DISCLAIMER/TRIGGER WARNING! This blog post discusses sexual abuse against children. This content may not be suitable for everyone. Reader discretion is advised.
The emergence of allegations made against celebrities and public figures involving the sexual abuse of children is becoming more prevalent throughout the years. The courage of victims in disclosing the details of the crimes made against them, has changed the perception of these notable individuals, and revealing a dark and disturbed insight into what really goes on behind the scenes.
In Australia we are not free from these heinous crimes occurring, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimating “that approximately 1,410,100 people living in Australia experienced sexual abuse before the age of 15” (ABS, 2017). Studies also show that in most cases of sexual abuse against children, the offender is “often related to the child or are a family friend” (CASA, 2019). These alarming statistics highlight the imperative need for changes to be made within our society to protect children from continuing to be subject to abuse.
The misuse of power by convicted criminals has proven to play a key role in the abuse of children. The recent conviction of Cardinal George Pell, in relation to the sexual abuse of children in 1996, and 1997, emphasises the exploitation of power that individuals can use to commit these crimes. A victim of Pell’s abuse reiterates this claim, as he describes his abuser as being “an extremely, presidentially powerful guy who had a lot of connections” (Davey, M 2019). Victims can often feel threatened or intimidated by their abuser, suppressing their feelings and not reporting it to the authorities. It is for these reasons that victims usually do not come forward, out of fear for how their abuser may react or not being believed by authorities.
The latest notable individual to be accused of sexually abusing children is the late Pop singer Michael Jackson. The documentary by Director Dan Reed, ‘Leaving Neverland’, documents claims made by two now men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, that Jackson sexually abused them as children. The documentary has sparked an international debate into whether or not the crimes that are being alleged by the two men are in fact true or not. The release of the documentary has reignited the discussion around child sex abuse and the common theme of victims coming forward later in their lives.
Victims often do not come forward for a number of reasons including:
- Fear of the consequences
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of Hopelessness and Helplessness
- Lack of Information
- Disbelief, or Dissociated
In a time where more victims are feeling more comfortable in disclosing their abuse, we as a society need to respond with empathy and direct them towards organisations that can assist with holding abusers responsible and start the process of healing.
If you or somebody you know needs support, check out some of the resources linked below:
- (2017). 4906.0 – Personal Safety, Australia, 2016. [online] Available at: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4906.0~2016~Main%20Features~Experience%20of%20Abuse%20before%20the%20age%20of%2015~27 [Accessed 21 Apr. 2019].
- CASA (2019). Fact Sheet: About the sexual abuse of children. [online] Available at: http://www.casa.org.au/casa_pdf.php?document=child_SA [Accessed 21 Apr. 2019].
- Davey, M. (2019). George Pell: cardinal found guilty of child sexual assault. [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/26/cardinal-george-pell-vatican-treasurer-found-guilty-of-child-sexual-assault [Accessed 21 Apr. 2019].
- Engel, B. (2017). Why Don’t Victims of Sexual Harassment Come Forward Sooner?. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/the-compassion-chronicles/201711/why-dont-victims-sexual-harassment-come-forward-sooner [Accessed 21 Apr. 2019].