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Blue Knot Foundation Blog

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Articles

11

The need to respond proactively to trauma and violence in our society, as well as globally, has never been more urgent. From threats of terrorism, civil wars, genocide to those of domestic violence and child abuse we need to understand the impacts of trauma and address them. Repeated traumas reap havoc on individuals, families and societies, even after the overt threats have abated. Repercussions are cumulative, compounded and insidious.

Last week we saw communities unite against the ever-too present reality of violence against women. White Ribbon Day is a public expression of solidarity and collective action championing the need for respectful relationships and attitudinal change. Such movements help mobilise the collective support of the nation, which is often needed to garner the political will to mobilise a government response.

However the challenge is far more complex. Many women affected by domestic and family violence have children who, rather than simply being an addendum to the violence or passively witnessing it, experience violence directly or live in fear in their home, robbed of a sense of safety or protection. The longer the violence continues, the more likely it is to impact children’s attitudes and their sense of relationships and the world.

An estimated 30-60 per cent of families affected by domestic and family violence experience harm from other forms of child abuse. More than half (55 per cent) of Australian children who have experienced physical abuse are also exposed to domestic violence, while an estimated 40 per cent who have experienced sexual abuse are also exposed to domestic violence.

Family violence has potentially profound effects across the life cycle of an individual - from infancy, through childhood and adolescence, and even through to adulthood. Such trauma has long-term implications on self-esteem, relationships, physical and mental health, daily functioning. When those affected become parents, and have not had the right support to work through their issues, it often impacts the next generation. 

The focus on domestic and family violence is much needed and, in addition, at a time dominated by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse we need to extend the focus on the trauma children experience in abusive and violent families, neighbourhoods, institutions and communities. 

In a recent report commissioned by ASCA, an individual who has been abused or otherwise traumatised in childhood is at significantly higher risk of impaired social, emotional and cognitive wellbeing as an adult. They are also at a higher risk of adopting coping behaviours, such as alcohol and substance abuse, overeating and smoking, the harmful repercussions of which compound the propensity to mental illness, attempted suicide and suicide. Therefore we must offer the right support to the people across the life cycle who have experienced abuse or trauma in childhood so they get the opportunity to be safe, healthy and connected with their communities. 

These scourges thrive on secrecy, silence and the complicit hands-off bystander response, which has characterised our society until now. Compounding these factors is the appalling lack of accessible affordable specialist services. Lack of such services means that victims are not provided with the opportunities they need to rebuild their lives. Trauma is a public health issue of significant proportions and we need to respond in a coordinated informed and integrated way.

Our growing understanding of brain plasticity has established that possibilities for recovery are real. Critical to recovery are the positive relational experiences, which are central to wellbeing and a better future. Victims of all ages need to be and feel safe, and have opportunities to discuss, process and make sense of their experiences. Such support needs to come from the community, including from family and friends but also professionally.

The recent response by Minister Ley to the recommendations of the national mental health commission acknowledged the need for systems’ reform to address the severe and complex needs of many Australians who have previously not had their needs met – many of whom experienced child abuse or other forms of trauma. The recommendations of the Redress report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse are for ongoing counselling and psychological care as and when and for as long as required for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

By addressing childhood trauma and abuse in adults, Australia can save an estimated $9.1 billion annually. It is time for a coordinated government response to the scourge of violence and abuse impacted on our children, which without the right interventions continues to play out, often for a lifetime. 

Help and support is available from the ASCA professional support line on 1300 657 380, 9am- 5pm Monday-Sunday.

The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line – 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.


Click here to read this article published in Women's Agenda>>

Comments

lyn
# lyn
Friday, 11 December 2015 12:18 PM
Referring to the third last paragraph, I am living proof that it sometimes takes a lifetime for people to "get over it" so to speak. I am 43 and have dug myself into a hole through lack of self esteem and self hatred. Most of my years i have spent on drugs and alcohol trying to escape the inescapable. I need help, but i don't know where to turn. Who can i trust? Life is so difficult when you don't know who you can trust. My childhood was very lively, shall we say, but one certain incident occurred and i was called a liar. The adults that knew at the time, if only the situation was addressed right then and there, i think my situation now might be very different. You have no idea how i wish it was brought to the surface all those years ago. It may well have saved my self esteem and i could've moved on in life. Instead its been eating away at me from the inside for all these years, trying to push it down with drugs and alcohol . Answers would be so good. Dr Cathy , you seem like you know a fair bit in this area. Maybe you could help?
Anonymous User
# Anonymous User
Friday, 11 December 2015 12:18 PM
Hi Lyn, thank you for your comment. We are so sorry to hear of your struggles and of how your experiences have impacted and continue to impact you. We do know however that it is possible to find a path to recovery – the stories of many survivors tell us that as does the research.

We feel a good start to finding a way forward would be to call our Blue Knot Helpline and speak with one of our counsellors. They are all experienced and skilled with supporting people who have experienced diverse traumas in childhood and in working with you to identify and access possible avenues to help you find a way forward. Our line can be accessed by calling 1300 657 380 9-5 Monday to Sunday AEST. Sometimes the counsellors will be on another call. If you leave a message, and your number and area code they will call you back as soon as possible.
Maud
Friday, 11 December 2015 12:18 PM
Finyall! This is just what I was looking for.

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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

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The information and resources on this site are provided for general education and as information and/or a guide only. They do not replace, and should not be used as a substitute for, counselling, therapy or other services, and should at no time be regarded or treated as professional advice of any kind. Personal needs and circumstances should always be carefully and thoroughly considered to determine the optimal approach in each individual case.