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Opinion: Some good will come from the horror of the Royal Commission

Lisa Flynn | Shine Lawyers Written by:
Lisa Flynn
National Special Counsel - Abuse Law

Opinion piece by Lisa Flynn, as published in the Sydney Morning Herald

For far too long victims of child abuse have lived with the shame and the fear and the worry  that no one would believe them. But this was happening on a bigger scale than anyone had thought.

We also know the courage and bravery it takes to come forward to authorities and report it. My team at Shine Lawyers has helped hundreds of people seek justice in crimes against them, including helping them give evidence to the royal commission.

Now that this is being discussed so openly and armed with these statistics showing the magnitude of the abuse it cannot be underestimated how empowering the knowledge will be that the offending was clearly out of control. It is absolutely never a child’s fault when they are abused, but the way abuse has worked is that a child is made to feel it is their fault, they are made to feel too afraid to say anything. That terrible burden is then carried with them, many will carry it for a lifetime.

This evidence at the commission will give a voice to so many. We hope that survivors of abuse know that now is the time; the nation is listening and there are people who want to understand and to help. Speak to your family, your loved ones, a trusted doctor or other professional, you will be heard.

The truth is only a small percentage ever bring themselves to speak publicly of their experience. It has also never been more clear that the Catholic Church and other religious institutions failed miserably those in their care. We have heard so much evidence but still the Catholic Church remains recalcitrant.

Much of this abuse happened under the watch of Cardinal George Pell who remains in the Vatican. Allowing Cardinal Pell to stay in Rome in the top job means the Catholic Church has no chance of proving that it is an organisation that has learnt from the past and has committed to changing the culture that allowed such horrific abuse to happen.

Many clients that we have represented or continue to represent would have liked to see Cardinal Pell accept that there were failings under his administration and step down from his position. He has chosen not to do this. Many now live in hope that the Pope will act, where Australian Catholic leaders have not, to ask this man to leave his high-ranking office.

This will be symbolic of the fight to be heard and will have reverberating positive effects on many survivors of abuse within the Catholic Church and beyond.

We want to send this message to survivors: the abuse was clearly inescapable. Share your stories with your families, and with authorities if you want to, but take this opportunity to bring yourself into the light.

Written by Lisa Flynn on . Last modified: March 12, 2018.

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