August 2017 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via eMail Share on LinkedIn

From the Editor

Blue Knot Day 16th October, 2017 - preparations are well under way. In this issue you can read how to become involved, lend support, raise money and start conversations. Now is the time to start planning, thinking, and discussing with your workmates and friends about your possible contribution.

In this issue we announce dates for the free one day educational workshops, these are specifically designed for adults who have experienced childhood trauma and/or abuse. These fill up quickly so be sure to book in soon.

Our feature article details some of the key recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for sweeping reforms to legislation and policy in the criminal justice system.

We include a story from one of our Blue Knot community Julia Steele, who recently updated her Will to include a bequest to the Blue Knot Foundation. She writes of her experience and her pleasure in visiting the charities she chose for her Will, including Blue Knot Foundation.

Are there more people running marathons these days? It feels like it! We meet another determined runner: Yvie who is raising money for Blue Knot Day. Yvie shares part of her recovery journey including the determination to raise awareness and help others who have similar experiences – “we all deserve to be heard and supported” – Hear! Hear! We agree.

Creative writer Michelle shares her beautiful poem A MOMENT TO SHINE. She explains that it was only as she developed her creative writing skills that the pieces of her life story started to emerge. 

Susie hopes that sharing her story “will help cancel out indifference and silence”. She explains how she has been working to manage flashbacks, triggers and body memories throughout 16 years of therapy. We appreciate her openness in sharing this in her story.

I provide a short review of a website, THE ART OF HEALING.  Blue Knot Helpline Counsellors have found some interesting reading and helpful resources on this website. 

Finally the News section will provide all the stories that we have been following this month.  As always if you have comments about what you have read in this issue, contributions for the My Story section or suggestions for future issues, please contact me at
 newsletter@blueknot.org.au


Warm regards
Jane Macnaught | Editor



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Sweeping Reforms Welcomed

Recommended changes to criminal justice system – Royal Commission Criminal Justice Report

By Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, President, Blue Knot Foundation

Royal Commission Justice Report

Blue Knot Foundation welcomes the 85 recommendations for sweeping legislative and policy reform, provided by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse around the criminal justice system. Their broad-based implementation is set to increase the effectiveness of responses to institutional child sexual abuse, from police, court, judicial and prosecution responses to optimising justice, for the complainant and the accused, enhancing criminal justice responses for victims, and extending much-needed support for victims in the process. This includes reforms set to tackle delays, sentences and appeals, and grooming offences. 

It also recommends new offences including ‘failure to report’ and ‘failure to protect’.Crimes of child sexual abuse have lower reporting rates, higher attrition rates, lower charging and prosecution rates and lower conviction rates. Counterintuitively although more complainants are coming forward more defendants are being acquitted since the Royal Commission was established. Hopefully these recommendations will be proactively implemented to help address the significant deficiencies in the system. 

Currently the victim often does not have a central role in the criminal justice system. They become witnesses asked to relive the trauma of their crime. This is often highly re-traumatising, exposing and humiliating. Many feel robbed of the opportunity to share their feelings about the crime and how it has affected them.  

Read full article: Sweeping Reforms Welcomed



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Royal Commission Seeks To Return Items

A message from the Royal Commission Office

Arranging the return of items provided during a private session

Royal Commission Seeks To Return ItemsThe Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has received a number of items from people who have attended private sessions. These include written documents, school yearbooks, photos, artwork, keepsakes, works of fiction or non-fiction, DVDs and CDs.

If someone you know or represent has given us any items, please ask them to contact us on 1800 099 340 or at contact@childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au to arrange for their return. If we are not contacted by 29 September 2017, we will assume that the items are no longer required.
 
Before the Royal Commission finishes on 15 December 2017, we will scan any suitable unclaimed items to create electronic records to include in the Royal Commission’s historical archive. Electronic records have the same legal status as originals. We will then securely dispose of the originals along with any other items unable to be scanned.
 

Arranging access to private session audio recordings

The Royal Commission has offered survivors and their legal representatives, access to the audio recording of their private session. When the Royal Commission concludes, this access may no longer be available.
 
If someone you know or represent requires access to their audio recording, please advise them to email the Royal Commission at contact@childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au before 29 September 2017.
 
As you will be aware, it is important that survivors have the opportunity to access their private session records. I thank you for your support in this matter.
 
If you would like any further information on any of the above items, please phone us on 1800 099 340 or email at contact@childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au


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My Story by Michelle

My Story by Michelle: A Moment To Shine“For 45 years I always (as well as others) dumped the reason for my challenges under the issue of 'childhood abandonment'. However when I started creating pieces of writing and poetry I unknowingly disclosed many signs of multiple traumas and some of the pieces started to come together. At the age of 55, I attended one of the Blue Knot Foundation educational survivor workshops (on the persistent encouragement from a wise long-term friend). I started to gain some insight into my challenges, and myself, and also some awareness about memory and trauma.
 
Whilst getting to know a new friend in my life, I mentioned that I had been to a Blue Knot Foundation workshop, and explained what the workshop was about. My friend said she would be interested as well and ‘the penny dropped’ for both of us. Our connection then progressed with new insight, appreciation, strength and courage. So Blue Knot Foundation influenced our friendship in a highly significant way.

Read full article: My Story by Michelle - A Moment To Shine



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BLUE KNOT DAY 2017

GET INVOLVED NOW!

Preparations are well underway for Blue Knot Foundation’s national awareness and fundraising day, Blue Knot Day, which this year will be held on Monday 16 October. On this day and throughout the week of 16-22 October, we will ask all Australians to unite in support of the 5 million Australian adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. 


Blue Knot Foundation's symbol for Blue Knot Day and our symbol all year round is the tangled knot, symbolising the complexity of childhood trauma. Blue Knot Foundation works to help untangle this knot. The ‘blue’ is representative of the clear blue sky of the possibilities of recovery.

There are a number of other ways you can 'Unite in Support of Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma' and help improve the lives of the five million (1 in 4) Australian adults who are survivors of childhood trauma, including abuse, including:

 

Hold an event in your community

Manly marketsBlue Knot Day events can include a workplace morning tea, a community barbecue, trivia night, fun run, faith-based event or you can approach us with your own ideas!

 

“The Blue Knot Day theme this year, ‘Unite in Support of Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma’, is really about getting a groundswell of support behind us, that crosses community and corporate. We are encouraging widespread community support and we need volunteers to register as soon as possible to help start conversations in their own communities, through the workplace, by booking a local market stall or space at a local shopping centres, or organising a BBQ or a trivia night for example”, said Cath.

 “We have received a great response so far, with many volunteers or ‘Blue Knot Day Ambassadors’ wanting to be involved again after getting something positive out of being involved last year. We want to build on this momentum and to do this we need to communicate with more people. This requires support from volunteers at a grassroots level, in their own communities”.

“We are reliant on ‘Blue Knot Day Ambassadors’: volunteers who help us garner support, share information and start conversations. Volunteers are the absolute backbone of Blue Knot Day and we encourage anyone who is thinking of helping out to get in touch now”. 

If you want to fundraise at your Blue Knot Day or event find out more here.

Blue Knot Foundation provides Fundraising Guidelines (if you choose to fundraise), support, guidance and advice to assist with formulating all Blue Knot Day community events. Complete the form online to organise your event or volunteer on this page.


Make a donation online to support Blue Knot Day

Donate today and help untangle the knot of childhood trauma and abuse. A recurring donation enables Blue Knot Foundation to continue its vital work long-term. 

Blue Knot Day donations will be directed to the provision of professional support, information and resources to empower adult survivors of childhood trauma to recover. 

For example, a donation of $50 will cover the cost of 20 newsletters, $100 maintains Blue Knot Foundation's online services for 1 day and $500 supports a day's development of Blue Knot Foundation's programs.

 

Purchase Blue Knot Day merchandise

Purchase Blue Knots or Friendship Bracelets for yourself, family, friends and colleagues. Sell them at your event in support of Blue Knot Foundation and wear them with pride this Blue Knot Day, and unite in support of the 5 million Australian adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Blue Knot Foundation Pin and Friendship Bracelet Visit Blue Knot Foundation's ONLINE SHOP 
Purchase your Blue Knot Day merchandise
Bracelets are available in packs of 5 for $25 
Blue Knots pins 5 for $20
Wear your Blue Knot pin or Friendship Bracelet in support of Blue Knot Day 
Encourage others to do the same!

 

GET #UNITED!

This year the theme of ‘Unite in Support of Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma’ will also act as the backdrop for an Australia-wide social media campaign, featuring the hashtag #UNITE. Everyone will be invited to participate in this campaign that runs through the month of October.

“This Blue Knot Day we are encouraging people to show their support by capturing an image of what ‘Unite’ means to them, with the hashtag #UNITE featured in the image or image description”, said Fundraising Manager, Cath James. “Isolation, stigma and shame can be a tremendously challenging part of the recovery journey for adult survivors of childhood trauma. We were overwhelmed with such positive feedback last year, when the iconic Sydney Opera House was illuminated blue for Blue Knot Day, as it was so public and visible. So we decided to build on that theme, to provide a platform for anyone, anywhere to show their support, to show people they care. This is about uniting and being visible in our strength of support”. 

Full details of #UNITE will be promoted on Blue Knot Foundation social media channels in the run up to Blue Knot Day.



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Announcing Survivor Workshops

A big thank you to everyone who generously donated to our end of financial year fundraising appeal in June. The funds raised have allowed us to schedule a total of eight workshops for survivors in cities and towns around Australia in 2017/2018 – one in each State and Territory. 

We have spaces available in the following workshops: 

Sydney – 21 October 2017 - FULL; waitlist training@blueknot.org.au
Melbourne – 28 October 2017 - FULL; waitlist training@blueknot.org.au
Brisbane – 4 November 2017
Adelaide – 10 February 2018
Darwin – 17 March 2018
Townsville – 21 April 2018
Canberra – 28 April 2018
Perth– 5 May 2018
Launceston – 19 May 2018


Survivor workshopsWe received a fantastic response from the community, raising $49,074 to keep our survivor workshops going. Blue Knot Foundation hopes to raise more funds to continue to provide these much needed workshops in coming years. 

Blue Knot Foundation’s one day educational workshops are specifically designed for adults who have experienced childhood trauma and/or abuse. They provide information to help survivors feel safe, learn about caring for themselves as well as how to seek effective support. 
Here’s what a couple of prior attendees said about their workshop experience:

“The great care taken to nurture participants and promote safety and inclusion, the respect and awareness of the facilitator combined to create a therapeutic and educational space was very beneficial. It was very well done.” Anonymous, Coffs Harbour. 

“I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. I was worried that it could be quite personal and challenging and was relieved that the environment was so safe and informative and positive. Thank you so much for a very meaningful day.” Anonymous, Sydney. 

Survivor workshops are free to attend but spaces do fill quickly. For more information and to book your place, please click on the link here or email training@blueknot.org.au or 02 8920 3611.


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My Story – by Susie

The Consequences

Trigger Warning

Warning: This article may contain content that could disturb some readers. If reading this story causes you distress and you need support, please call the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 (9am-5pm AEST, 7 days). Calls that cannot be answered directly will be returned as soon as possible, so please leave a message with your phone number, and state of residence.


“I just hope my story helps to cancel out indifference and silence.
I know how difficult it is to go through healing, not just mentally, but emotionally, and the paralyzing inability to define what is necessary for thorough healing. I have been blessed with sixteen years of therapy, and eventually learned to quickly address triggers, flashbacks, and body memories so that I can experience relief. I did not always feel this way about embracing the painful symptoms, but through being willing to trust, relief became a reward to strive for. Honesty, trust, counselling, and a great support system has energized me and fed the thriver within me. And now I want to do all that I can to encourage every survivor and perpetrator to seek professional help.” 

Susie Quickened
The Consequences

Triggers, Flashbacks, and Body Memories

I was told that one in four Australians suffer from child abuse. This makes me very sad. Here in America, the statistics, are close to the same. The horrors of just one traumatic experience of abuse, regardless of the type, can cause a lifetime of consequences. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder should never be laughed at, but rather taken very seriously.

Trauma, whether recent, or years ago, can cause serious consequences if left untreated by psychological professionals. This fact cannot be emphasized enough. I encourage anyone who has experienced emotional distress, trauma, and abuse, to seek counselling.

Read full article: The Consequences



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Marathon Support From Yvie

“I was blown away by the support that the organisation provides. It made me feel less vulnerable, that people like me were heard and recognised, so I started reading and signed up for the newsletter”

On Sunday 15th October, 2017, Blue Knot Foundation supporter and childhood trauma survivor, Yvonne Tuohy, will run a half marathon in the Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival, to support Blue Knot Foundation and raise awareness of the impacts of childhood trauma. 

“I am trying to put as much energy into healing and into surviving – my experience and struggle with trauma has been my own ‘call to action’ and I am determined to raise awareness and help others going through similar experience. This is why I am running for Blue Knot Foundation. Taking part in this marathon the day before Blue Knot Day seems like the perfect opportunity to raise funds and create extra much needed additional awareness”. 

Read full article: Marathon Support From Yvie

Yvie Marathon Support


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That Other Taboo Subject: Death

By Julie Steele

I’m not yet in my twilight years, but turning seventy has focused my mind, especially as my partner and I are about to embark on an overseas trip. What if something happens to us while we are away? 

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been discussing our Wills. After ensuring our family and friends are taken care of, our minds turned to which charities should we bequeath part of our estate. 

Top of my list was Blue Knot Foundation. As an adult survivor myself, I have observed this organisation from its genesis, and watched it grow into the important and vibrant not-for-profit it is today.

Writing my Will was an interesting journey. It raised many questions about the importance of relationships with family and friends. Do I leave more to those members who are less well off? Or less to those members who have not bothered to keep in touch? Should that portion of my Will be shared equally amongst all members? 

Read full article: That Other Taboo Subject: Death



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SELF CARE RESOURCES

In this section, we will review self care/help resources our Blue Knot Helpline counselling team collects to share with people who call the Helpline. We are delighted to share these ideas with our Breaking Free readers. What is helpful for one person may not be right for someone else so please experiment, explore and find what suits you.

Website suggestion from Blue Knot Helpline

The Art Of Healing Trauma

By Breaking Free editor Jane Macnaught

The Art Of Healing Trauma websiteThis month I am introducing a website that the Blue Knot Helpline counselling team have in their resources kit to share with callers from time to time: “The Art of Healing Trauma”.

This site has many creative ideas and resources that are presented as tips and tools, simple explanations and useful and beautiful illustrations.

Whilst it focuses on PTSD or single incident trauma many of the ideas are also useful for those of us who have experienced complex trauma. 

“The Art of Healing” Facebook page has 5.4k likes, with posts including a good range of articles, memes and plenty of community discussion in the comments section.

The site also includes Peter Levine’s 2 Step Self-Holding Exercise by Heidi Hanson.
The exercise describes hand positions which help promote internal balance, and could create an ‘escape’, when experiencing hyperarousal, immobility, nervousness and/or overwhelm etc. The goal of this exercise is to calm the nervous system, develop greater body awareness, and to provide your body with an experience of what ‘normal’ feels like. Link provided for full explanation.  

The Art of Healing TraumaHeidi is a creative writer, who has written many forms of poetry on this website including a series of haikus - a traditional form of Japanese poetry, the poem “Wolf Fur. A Poem To Soothe Anxiety”. This poem can be read to help calm yourself down.  


* The Art Of Healing Trauma website has been created by Heidi Hanson, an artist with a degree in psychology. Heidi created this website to share her ideas and the self-therapy exercises she created to support her own recovery from PTSD. As she states in her disclaimer the therapeutic exercises presented are based on personal experiences and have not been scientifically validated. The ideas put forward should be used under the supervision of a health professional. It is important to also note that the website refers to PTSD (single incident trauma) and many of our readers experience complex trauma (as occurs with childhood abuse and other traumas). Despite these differences many of the resources, ideas and concepts presented on this website are based on therapeutic practices used in counselling rooms across Australia and could be useful provided sensible precautions are employed.

Blue Knot Foundation makes every effort to provide readers of its website and newsletters with information which is accurate and helpful. It is not however a substitute for counselling or professional advice. While all attempts have been made to verify all information provided, Blue Knot Foundation cannot guarantee and does not assume any responsibility for currency, errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the information provided.


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The Royal Commission published its final recommendations on Criminal Justice

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released 85 recommendations to reform the Australian criminal justice system to provide a fairer response to victims of institutional child sexual abuse. It has published four fact sheets in relation to the report.
 
The link below will take you to the criminal justice page on our website, which has links to the report (in three volumes) and the fact sheets.

http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/policy-and-research/our-policy-work/criminal-justice



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IN THE NEWS

Proposed legislative changes recommended by Royal Commission will optimise justice processes for victims

The 85 reforms to the criminal justice system proposed by the child sex abuse royal commission will help to address the woeful conviction rate of accused paedophiles, victim advocates and legal experts say.

While much attention has been given to the commission’s recommendation that it be made a criminal offence for a clergy member to keep child abuse revealed during confession a secret, Sydney law school associate professor Arlie Loughnan said the proposed changes to rules around evidence and procedure would have a greater impact on convictions.

Read full article at
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/aug/16/abuse-inquiry-reforms-would-put-more-paedophiles-in-jail-experts-say


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Recommendations to criminal justice system prioritise role of victims

The report recommended making failure to report child sexual abuse in institutions a criminal offence.

This recommendation extended to information given in religious confessions, with the report stating clergy should not be able to refuse to report because the information was received during confession.

Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council said that while the church and the TJHC had consistently argued that these reporting provisions should not apply to the confessional, the royal commission has now made a different determination based on information and evidence it has heard over the past four years.

Read full article at
https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2017/08/royal-commission-recommendations-focus-religious-confessions/


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Zero tolerance to revelations of institutional child sexual abuse, including the confessional

Priests who fail to tell police about suspected child sexual abuse should face criminal charges, even when they learn of abuse during a confidential religious confession, Australia’s most powerful investigative authority recommended on Monday.

Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse — the nation’s highest form of inquiry — recommended that all states and territories in Australia introduce legislation that would make it a criminal offense for people to fail to report child sexual abuse in an institutional setting. Clergy who find out about sexual abuse during a religious confession would not be exempt from the law.

Read full article at
https://www.apnews.com/2350cb94b43
74c70a7185cbf74674a70/Australian-inquiry:-Priests-should-report-abuse-confessions


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Disclaimer - Blue Knot Foundation makes every effort to provide readers of its website and newsletters with information which is accurate and helpful. It is not however a substitute for counselling or professional advice. While all attempts have been made to verify all information provided, Blue Knot Foundation cannot guarantee and does not assume any responsibility for currency, errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the information provided.