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Byron Shire
April 1, 2023

Where the law fails children

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Name withheld

Thank you, Mandy, (Soapbox, 16 September) for shining a light on an all-too-common issue that affects every community around the world.

As the parents of two young children who were abused in all-too-common circumstances (by the partner of a dear family friend) we feel the heavy weight of trauma, sadness, and secrecy around child sexual abuse.

We are the quiet keepers of our children’s stories, so many of our friends in the community do not know. We fiercely protect our children’s privacy, as stigmas abound around the impact of abuse. It will be their story to tell, if and when they choose to. Our family’s trauma is ongoing, deeply private – and at times, still very painful. But our children are thankfully safe, happy and thriving – and we are so very lucky to have such strong personal and professional support.

As the Royal Commission highlighted, current laws regarding child sexual abuse investigation are also woeful. After enduring the agonising process of reporting to police, we were advised that very little could be done, as the man (of course) refuted our child’s disclosure. Without forensic evidence, priors, a witness, or a confession, a conviction is nigh impossible.

The investigating officer believed our child, told us what we were going through was unimaginably painful, but any further action would be stymied by a staggeringly insufficient legal process – which probably wouldn’t have led to any meaningful rehabilitation, anyway.

Over a year after my eldest child’s initial disclosures, both of our children continue to reveal further heartbreaking details to us in their own time. We keep these recorded in the unlikely event someone else comes forward about this man, or he decides to make a confession.

The traumatic impact of this man’s monstrous actions on our family has been profound. His deeds, and the denial from both him (and his partner), are unforgivable. Yet we do not think of him as a monster. Like all offenders, he needs help, and the current support services for people at risk of offending are limited and not widely known. And because such people are deemed inhuman ‘monsters’, it’s also very unlikely that those experiencing these impulses will seek the help they need, and their deep shame can then further drive their harmful behaviour.

We agree that it’s time to shine a light into one of humanity’s darkest corners.

We extend our love, support and solidarity to those who are also steering their own ships through such silent grief and healing.

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