By Bree Bailey | Contributor
Children who are survivors of sexual abuse face lifelong emotional and physical consequences that can be detrimental to their well-being if not handled carefully. For many years, children in Australia did not receive the help they desperately needed due to a flawed system which protected the perpetrators and ignored the children.
In 2012, the former prime minister began an inquiry which uncovered thousands of testimonies that had been pushed under the rug and ignored by the courts in an attempt to safeguard the institutions and public figures whom these accusations pointed toward. This inquiry lasted five years and finished last December, according to the New York Times.
The horrific truth was found that tens of thousands of children had been sexually abused through national institutions such as schools, churches, foster homes and sports clubs. According to BBC News, it was determined that over 15,000 people had reached out to the inquiry describing accusations against more than 4,000 institutions. At the conclusion, over 8,000 testimonies had been collected and it was discovered many of these victims were wrestling with severe issues as a result of their trauma.
After many shocking statics and gripping testimonies were unearthed, the prime minister of Australia Scott Morrison was moved to take action. On Monday, he gave a national apology to victims of child abuse. Hundreds of survivors and families gathered to witness as the prime minister's voice shook with emotion.
"Today, we finally acknowledge and confront the lost screams of our children," Morrison said. "We are sorry. Sorry you are not protected. Sorry you are not listened to. We are sorry for refusing to trust the words of children, for not believing you. As we say sorry, we also say we believe you."
Although many were grateful that recognition was finally happening, still some were angry at the government's lack of action. For thousands of victims who have already passed away-many through suicide-these actions were not taken soon enough.
"He kept saying 'sorry, sorry, sorry,'" Paul Auchettl, whose abuse by a Catholic brother started when he was 11, said.. "It's like he didn't know what else to say. We need somebody to outline a plan forward. It's not enough to say sorry."
The Catholic church had been connected to many of these accusations and they agreed to many suggestions from those involved in the inquiry. However, they refuse to change their policy on the confidentiality of the pope.
The government took action in forming a compensation plan which allots up to $150,000 to victims of sexual abuse, according to BBC News. All states and territories, and many institutions, have since signed on in agreement with this strategy. On top of this, Morrison committed to establishing a museum in honor of the victims' testimonies. Still, many survivors have been frustrated with the process of this compensation.
Although we can never truly compensate survivors for the trauma they have experienced we can help by sharing their stories and being a voice for those currently facing these horrors. Advocacy can also help prevent future cases such as these from happening. Organizations like Stop the Silence are working to expose and bring an end to child abuse globally. They fight the source and pursue healing for victims through advocacy, community outreach, education and training for service providers and policy makers. You can learn more at http://www.stopcsa.org and take your own steps to fight this globally prevalent issue.