If you have experienced childhood trauma, you can speak with a Blue Knot Helpline trauma counsellor including for support and applications around national redress

1300 657 380
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or via email helpline@blueknot.org.au

 

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Blue Knot Foundation Blog

Check out our recent blog posts to stay up to date with our work, latest research and articles curated by the Blue Knot Foundation Marketing & Communications team. Should you have any suggestions or contributions please contact us via email: marketing@blueknot.org.au.

Articles

23

Tarja Malone, the national helpline manager for the Blue Knot Foundation, says people there is no shame in seeking help for vicarious trauma.

Anyone whose job revolves around caring for others is at risk of vicarious trauma and, as the drought drags on, a
free workshop has been organised to help the regional helpers.

The Murrumbidgee Local Health District has helped to organise a series of free workshops in a bid to help rural
workers who are supporting others experiencing drought-related distress and trauma. Many of these workers
could need additional help for their own wellbeing, as they many not have mental health training.

The Wagga workshop will be held on Monday, May 27, presented by the Blue Knot Foundation.

Tarja Malone, the national helpline manager for the foundation, said anyone whose role was to support other
people was at risk of being affected by vicarious trauma.

She said social workers, emergency personnel and health workers were among those who might be affected.
"Oftentimes we don't believe how hearing stories can have an impact," Ms Malone said.

"It's not a sign of weakness to need help. If we are working in the trauma space, it is important not to ignore it.
"A worker who isn't managing their own vicarious trauma may not be able to help others effectively."

Ms Malone said the affects of vicarious trauma varied between individuals and could have an impact that varied
from low to high.

For people concerned that they themselves, or someone they care about, is being affected by vicarious trauma, Ms
Malone said there were some things to look out for.

"There might be changes in relationships - people might be behaving differently in relationships with family,
friends and colleagues," she said.

A worker who isn't managing their own vicarious trauma may not be able to help others effectively.
Tarja Malone, Blue Knott Foundation

"Someone with VT might be avoiding certain conversations or certain people or there might be a change in
someone's belief system or world views.

"Their thoughts might change and there might be changes in their body and brain function they might be edgy,
they might develop depression,

"There might may be sleeping problems, alcohol and drug use, avoiding people, places or situations."
For more details on the workshops, contact Larah

You can read the full article here.


[Read the rest of this article...]

01

 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, a month in which we focus on the needs of victims of sexual violence of all ages. While all sexual violence is abhorrent and often profoundly damaging this article speaks to the needs of adults who were sexually abused as children.

Just over a year ago, after five years of operation, our nation’s ground-breaking Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse closed its doors. It lifted the lid on the scourge of child sexual abuse within our churches, charities, schools and sporting bodies. And its recommendations mapped out a plan for systemic change within our institutions many of which are currently being enacted. The Commission conducted a forensic examination of the systemic failures which allowed and enabled the protection of perpetrators, institutions and hierarchical cover-ups.

In addition, it also provided a platform to give survivors a voice – a voice long denied, dismissed and minimised. A voice which showed us as a community, just how damaging the crime of sexual abuse perpetrated by people in positions of power, trust and care often is, over time. It also showed us the importance of listening, hearing and believing, what was often seemingly ‘unbelievable’.

More than 4,000 survivors from 1,691 religious institutions revealed that they were sexually abused as children to the Royal Commission. These crimes were perpetrated by priests, ministers, teachers, youth leaders and others. Many children suffered under the care of religious leaders and institutions, whose responses to discovering this abuse, were painfully inadequate.

However, the terms of reference of the Commission, although broad in Commission terms, were narrow for the tens of thousands of Australian survivors who missed out. These are people who were sexually abused within the apparently sacrosanct haven of the home and family. Just as institutional child sexual abuse was, and in some cases still is, treated with secrecy, stigma and cover-up, the home and family has traditionally been seen as a private space – what goes on behind closed doors stays behind them and what happens within the family is family business.

But this needs to change. And it needs to change now. That’s because the vast majority of child sexual abuse is perpetrated within those sacred walls. And the damage reaped is often monumental not just for individuals and their families but for the very fabric of our society.

Children depend on their caregivers for their very survival. For this reason, they need to attach and bond to them, even when they are being abused by them. And many abused children remain loyal to their abusing caregivers for the same reason. Emotionally and physically dependent children whose brains are still developing at the time they are abused are unable to process the enormity of the betrayal of being sexually abused by a family member. This can leave the child feeling confused and unsafe, and unable to focus on learning and exploring to meet their developmental needs. This is because they are preoccupied with trying to be and feel safe in their inherently unsafe world. Additionally, within a family setting, a perpetrator often has ready access to a child. No-one asks questions; no-one sees. This leaves the child particularly vulnerable as they are trapped and can’t escape. The prevailing power imbalance of the abusing parent, caregiver or other family member over a child means the child feels helpless and powerless, living in fear, awaiting the next assault.

Child sexual abuse is a betrayal of trust and an abuse of power. The perpetrator often tricks the child into believing that the abuse is an act of love, and that they are responsible. But a child is never to blame for being sexually abused. Often threats, fear and manipulation are used to maintain the child’s silence, protect their secrecy and keep the child a victim. Within the family, a child can fear that speaking out will break the family up or cause another member to be harmed, if that is what their perpetrator has led them to believe.

Child sexual abuse doesn’t only impact the victim. It decimates families, polarising them into those who believe the victim and support them, and those who don’t. Or those who are trying to preserve the external image of the family and its place within the community, despite the crimes being committed within.

The Royal Commission showed us the importance of being listened to, heard, validated and believed. It is time for us as a society and a community to listen to survivors of child sexual abuse within the family. We must embrace them so they know and believe that they are not to blame. We must help erode the shame they often feel and to reach out and show them that they are not alone. There is hope and there is help and we must show survivors that with the right support, they can find a path to healing. 

The orignal article written by Dr. Cathy Kezelman AM was published here



 

[Read the rest of this article...]

24


Having a basic understanding of current research about how memory works will help health and legal practitioners to better understand and support the many people who experience traumatic memory, writes Pam Stavropoulos, head of research at Blue Knot Foundation – the National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma.

In the article below, Stavropoulos says the inclusion of updated information on the nature of memory in tertiary, vocational and professional development training is urgently overdue and will correct misconceptions and improve service provision.


Pam Stavropoulos writes:

The nature of memory, particularly the relationship between memory and trauma, is topical and often contentious. Increased awareness of child sexual abuse following the Royal Commission, and of sexual assault highlighted by the #MeToo movement, raises questions about the veracity of memory.

Current research on the nature and processes of memory allows greater understanding to enhance the informed practice of health, legal and justice practitioners to achieve more constructive health and justice outcomes.

Neuroscientific and other research confirm that memory is not a single entity.

As highlighted by Peter Levine in his book, Trauma and Memory: Brain and body in a search for the living past, complex neural networks are associated with different types of memory which are stored in different areas of the brain. The two main types of memory are explicit (conscious) and implicit (largely non-conscious) memory.

Most references to `memory’ describe explicit memory, including in measures used by psychologists regarding memory retention. Explicit memories, that is of facts, information, and consciously recollected experience, are generally verbally accessible.

This contrasts with implicit memories which are often situationally accessible and elicited by environmental prompts such as a fragrance, sight or sound. Implicit memory, Levine has written, is also organised around emotions, skills and/or procedures which the body does automatically. Implicit memory enables us to recall how to ride a bike, while the memory of the day we learnt to ride is explicit memory.

As Levine has highlighted, academic and clinical psychologists as well as psychotherapists emphasise conscious memory in a culture which privileges thought, cognition and reason over unconscious processes.

Trauma and memory

A traumatic experience so overwhelming that it can’t be processed impedes the functioning of the hippocampus – the part of the brain which is central to encoding memory and conscious recall.

Traumatic experience is `split off’ into fragments of implicit memory and stored in the body. These implicit memories can be `triggered’, often many years later, by events which stimulate the senses or which are reminders of prior trauma.

In trauma, in which memories are implicit, ‘forgetting’ or lack of conscious recollection can serve survival purposes. This is especially for children who must attach to caregivers on whom they are dependent to survive.  The younger the child and the more severe the trauma, the more likely the trauma will not be consciously recalled. This allows the child to maintain the vital attachment bond.

Traumatic amnesia and the subsequent recovery of conscious recollection occurs with diverse types of trauma (for example, war, the Holocaust, and natural disasters) as well as that of child sexual abuse. From the 1990s, the veracity of recovered memory has been challenged in the media and by cognitive psychologists only in relation to child sexual abuse.

While neither explicit nor implicit memory is infallible, studies show that `recovered’ memory is no more or less reliable or unreliable than continuous, explicit memory.  

In their critique of `false memory’ regarding delayed recall of child sexual abuse, many psychology textbooks show little awareness  that traumatic  memory is implicit, that it differs from explicit memory, and that both types of memory may be unreliable. Many also fail to distinguish between explicit and implicit memory, which accounts for their inaccurate depiction of traumatic memory. Numerous cases in various parts of the world have demonstrated that recovered memories have been corroborated by independent evidence, admissions of guilt by perpetrators, or findings of guilt by courts.

Any consideration of memory must also include the social context in which memory is generated. This is particularly pertinent in relation to child sexual abuse and sexual assault regarding the dynamics of power, dependence, secrecy and the potential repercussions of disclosure. For example, disclosure has the obvious risks of not being believed or of being stigmatised.

Basic understanding of current research in relation to memory will enable health and legal practitioners to better understand and assist the many people who experience traumatic memory.

Inclusion of updated information on the nature of memory, particularly the difference between explicit and implicit memory, in tertiary, vocational and professional development training will correct misconceptions and is urgently overdue.

It will also enhance service provision which fosters recovery from the impacts of trauma, and enable safe, less destabilising interactions within legal and justice processes.

You can read the original article here.

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18
For many the Easter holiday season is a time to relax, take a break from our hectic life and connect in with family, friends and our faith-based commu...

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12
Trigger warning: sexual abuse, sexual assault, child abuse. The announcement of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abu...

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27
Cardinal George Pell was last year convicted of sexually abusing two choirboys in 1996, but the Victorian County Court has not allowed media outlets t...

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27
Cardinal George Pell was last year convicted of sexually abusing two choirboys in 1996, but the Victorian County Court has not allowed media outlets t...

[Read the rest of this article...]

08

The Power Threat Meaning Framework is a radically new approach to understanding distress and unusual experiences without using psychiatric diagnosis. Very few people are offered this information, or encouraged to make a choice about how they understand their distress.

They are not told that the dominant explanation — in other words, that they are suffering from ‘mental illnesses’ which need to be diagnosed and medicated — is only one viewpoint, which not all professionals agree with.

The Framework was produced jointly with users of services who have decided to leave the medical viewpoint behind, and as a result, have been able to take up lives that are fulfilling and meaningful, even if they still have difficulties.

One of the main aims of the Framework is to offer everyone a way of creating new, more hopeful narratives or stories about their lives and the problems they may have faced or still be facing, instead of seeing themselves as blameworthy, weak, flawed, or ‘mentally ill’.

This can suggest new ways forward, sometimes working alongside professionals and sometimes through self help or peer support.

The workshops will explain how the key questions in the Framework can be used to explore these stories. Attendees from all backgrounds are welcome.

**This article was written by guest author, Dr. Lucy Johnstone, lead author of the Power Threat Meaning Framework and has been republished here. The observations made are those of the author.**

You can register for Power Threat Meaning Framework workshops in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane here.

[Read the rest of this article...]

21
The delay in institutions joining the national redress scheme is a further betrayal and compounds the trauma endured Adult survivors of child sexua...

[Read the rest of this article...]

17
Blue Knot Foundation is delighted to congratulate Chrissie Foster and Justice Peter McClellan AM who were jointly awarded the Australian Human Rights ...

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Testimonials

“Blue Knot Foundation has a key role to play in the building of community capacity in care provision to those who have experienced childhood abuse and trauma in any environment.”

NIALL MULLIGAN Manager, Lifeline Northern Rivers

“I think Blue Knot Foundation is a fantastic support organisation for people who have experienced childhood trauma/abuse, for their families/close friends and for professionals who would like to learn how to more effectively work with these people.”

Psychologist Melbourne

“It's such a beautiful thing that you are doing. Helping people to get through this.”

ANONYMOUS

“It was only last September when I discovered the Blue Knot Foundation website and I will never forget the feeling of support and empathy that I received when I finally made the first phone call to Blue Knot Helpline, which was also the first time I had ever spoken about my abuse.”

STEVEN

"At last there is some sound education and empathetic support for individuals and partners impacted by such gross boundary violations.”

TAMARA

Contact Us

Phone: 02 8920 3611
Email: admin@blueknot.org.au
PO Box 597 Milsons Point NSW 1565
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm AEST

Blue Knot Helpline
Phone: 1300 657 380
Email: helpline@blueknot.org.au 
Hours: Mon-Sun, 9am-5pm AEST

For media comment, please contact:
Dr Cathy Kezelman
+61 425 812 197
+61 2 8920 3611
or ckezelman@blueknot.org.au


For media enquiries, please contact: 
Jackie Hanafie
+61 3 9005 7353
+61 412 652 439
 or jackie@fiftyacres.com