Breaking Free – July 2023

Silenced, Not Silent: Breaking Through the Heavy Layers that Hide Our Truth

woman writing in journal

We have had a Royal Commission supporting survivors to speak out and expose institutional responses that hid child abuse. This was empowering and enlightening for many of us. There are, sadly, still thousands, maybe millions of us who experienced childhood sexual abuse in our families or family networks who do not have safe, compassionate pathways, and sensitive under-standing in order to stand in their truth and be heard.

Here is a 3-chapter series that uncovers social and personal blocks, hidden control and paradoxes that have silenced so many. Through dual voices of lived experience and trauma-informed wisdom we are guided to remove blinkers and see how the world around us thwarts us, our foundational relationships block us and the travesties in our inner, private spaces hijack us. So much so that, often, we are not even able to tell ourselves the story of what happened to us.

We are taken, gently, through progressively deeper and more personal layers of silencing mechanisms that hid one woman’s truth of early childhood abuse from her until her mid-life. She finds it surprising that she still needs to grapple with these silencing influences as a 60+ year old and begins with these pleas:

“Please, please don’t refer to ‘my silence’ or my ‘speaking out’
as if they are simple choices. I have been silenced, not silent.
My relationship with the truth was forbidden and
warped by powerful systems of pretence, secrecy and re-framing,
passed down through generations of our public institutions
and our most private institution, that of the family.

Before you can be open to any part of my story, you need to understand my silence.”

As more survivors, professionals and onlookers come to understand the systems of silencing and cover-up, we will glimpse not only the factors that contribute to the alarming incidence of child sexual abuse in family environments, but also the crucial steps in prevention and healing. When we all start to focus NOT on what is ‘wrong with us’ but ‘what happened to us’, as a trauma-informed approach requires, then each and every one of us can be part of the process of clearing our societies of this scourge.

Read Silenced, But Not Silent

Blue Knot Helpline Client Survey

Have you contacted the Blue Knot Helpline recently? We invite you to share your feedback.

Helpline Survey

We are reaching out to our Blue Knot Community, and in particular those that have utilised our Blue Knot Helpline for counselling and support.

We are conducting a short survey, and if you have contacted our Helpline at any time since 2020 we would greatly appreciate you sharing your feedback with us.

The survey includes 15 short questions, including both Yes/No and scaling questions, as well as spaces for your written feedback. Please note that not all questions are mandatory, so feel free to answer only those that you feel comfortable with.

Should you need to, you can take a break from the survey by minimising the window and completing it at a later time.

We place great importance on your privacy and guarantee all responses will be treated with confidentiality and anonymity. The feedback gathered from the survey will be used solely to inform how we can improve our service to you and others across the community.

We thank you in advance for taking the time to share your thoughts. Please click the button below to start the survey.

Start Survey

The Tree

Thoughts from a Trauma Survivor

I see myself like a tree. This tree grew on the side of a cliff on the outskirts of Alaska. In ground not rich in nutrients and slanted so that half of it’s roots were exposed (unstable upbringing with caregivers suffering severe mental health issues and drug use). The winds were Arctic, constant and pummelling the young tree from one direction repeatedly (physical abuse/sexual abuse). The tree adapted by growing at an extreme angle. The lack of nutrients made it spindly and slightly stunted. Six months of the year it spent in darkness (social isolation/safe houses/systemic failures) and the tree dared not put too much energy into growing and developing lush foliage or blossoms as it needed to conserve what it had for the branches. Pests ravaged into its bark causing little pieces to peel back (emotional/psychological abuse).

Two human explorers came and discovered it…
The first said, “Wow!!,… it’s diseased! That’s not normal to be growing at that angle!… and it’s bark peeling off… what a mess… it’s dying… there’s something very wrong with that tree!”
(Disordered/symptomology of adaptations to harsh environment/the tree is ill/the fault is within the tree/victim/value-less).

The second actually looked around at the wind, poor soil, lack of sun & pests the little tree had still actively burrowing under it’s bark and said, “No… it’s actually a miracle! It’s survived somehow by adapting its lean against this freezing wind, somehow clinging onto this crazy cliff… and, with what sun? This soil barely holds on to moisture!?!”
(He sees it as normal adaptation to abnormally harsh conditions/the tree itself isn’t disordered/survivor/of value).

He continued, “Let’s take it home to our sunny country and give it some shelter from the wind. I’ll put it in some nutrient rich compost with good PH levels. Let’s treat these pests too.”
(Nurture/hope because of understanding/empowering the tree).

The little tree always had a bit of a lean from its time spent against the harsh winds and elements in Alaska, but the following years it’s leaves bushed out and the top half began to straighten up, stretching majestically towards the warm Australian sun. Some researchers even learnt a thing or two from it to grow other trees even more resilient and prevent disease. Because of the nurture received by the explorers, it grew into one of the tallest trees they’d ever seen.

Written by Joey Elkins.
(The first child at age 12 to convict a pedophile by a jury of his peers in Adelaide, SA.).

National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse

In Conversation: Healing and Recovery in Indigenous Communities

Professor Helen Milroy from Perth Children’s Hospital and the University of Western Australia, Dr Graham Gee from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Fiona Cornforth, National Centre Board Member and CEO of the Healing Foundation will explore how to create and restore safety with First Nations Communities in the context of the trauma and impact of child sexual abuse.

In this webinar, Professor Milroy, Dr Gee and Fiona will discuss what cultural safety means at a practical level and explore how we can develop an understanding of the deep knowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities hold and live as an important part of the healing journey.

Date: Monday 28 August 2023
Time: 11am-12pm AEST
Where: Online

Please note this webinar will be recorded.

Target audience: Anyone who works with First Nations children, young people and families experiencing child sexual abuse, community members, government, policy makers and researchers.

Workers who completed the National Centre’s Learning and Development Survey highlighted a critical need for them to build their knowledge, skills and understand about how to work in culturally appropriate ways with victims and survivors. The conversation highlights the importance of dispelling myths and misconceptions surrounding child sexual abuse, emphasising that it is a widespread issue across Australia, as evidenced by the Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS).

Featuring a live Q&A session with the speakers, all are welcome at this important and timely event.

Find out More

In the News

Gaye was sexually abused as a young child, years later she’s sharing her insights to help others