'Someone finally listened'


A message from a survivor reads: "Please be kind to children. Don't tell lies. Always tell the truth if the children are hurt like me."Image copyright
ROYAL COMMISSION INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Harrowing stories from survivors shaped a landmark Australian inquiry into child sexual abuse.

The royal commission held more than 8,000 private sessions with victims and gathered about 1,300 written accounts.

After revealing their experiences, survivors were invited to write about the process of coming forward.

More than 1,000 anonymous contributions were released in a book on Thursday to mark the official end of the five-year inquiry.

The book, titled “Message to Australia”, was described by one commission lawyer as “too heavy to lift”.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, set up in 2013, investigated allegations of sexual and physical abuse across dozens of institutions in Australia, including schools, sports clubs and religious organisations.

A message from a survivor reads: "No child should have had to be abused by anyone. Whether it was in the past or it be in the future. IT HAS TO STOP NOW. THE PAIN WILL NEVER EVER GO AWAY OR THE MEMORIES."Image copyright
ROYAL COMMISSION INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

The book contains notes, many of them handwritten, speaking about some of the trauma and suffering experienced by victims.

But the dominant themes are of relief and gratitude from survivors who describe feeling like the process had given them a voice.

Over and over, the messages express thanks to the commissioners for listening to stories of abuse with empathy and without judgement.

A message from a survivor reads: "At long last for the first time in 26 years, I had a feeling of empowerment by telling my story to the commissioner who allowed me to have a voice."Image copyright
ROYAL COMMISSION INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

A message from a survivor reads: "I am 60 years old and I have never before had the opportunity to be able to tell, in a safe, private environment. Without any judgement being placed."Image copyright
ROYAL COMMISSION INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Many messages detail how the process inspired new feelings of validation, empowerment and freedom. Others say the experience helped them heal.

For many, it was the first time they had told their story, the commissioners said.

On Thursday, commission chair Justice Peter McClellan thanked the survivors for telling their stories.

“The survivors are remarkable people with a common concern to do what they can to ensure that other children are not abused,” he said.

“They deserve our nation’s thanks.”

A message from a survivor reads: "I felt sick all morning before my private session, but they were so caring and compassionate which helped me to feel safe and not so uneasy."Image copyright
ROYAL COMMISSION INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

The book will be held in the National Library of Australia as well as state and territory libraries.

The royal commission held hearings both in private and public and made 44 separate reports to the government.

The inquiry’s final report will be handed to Australia’s governor-general on Friday.

Read the Message to Australia in full



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