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
Monday - Sunday
between 9am - 5pm AEDT
or via email helpline@blueknot.org.au


Do you live with disability?  Have you experienced abuse, neglect, violence or exploitation? 

For support for Disability Royal Commission or general support contact our National Counselling & Referral Service

1800 421 468
9am - 6pm AEST Mon- Fri
9am - 5pm AEST Sat, Sun & public holidays

Nov-Dec 2020Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via eMail Share on LinkedIn

From the Editor

Without question the year, 2020 has challenged us all, and even more so for many people living with the impacts of complex trauma. Without warning we have had to adapt to a new world around us, and tap into our inner resources and the support of others to get us through extraordinary times.  As we head into the holiday season, our feelings and emotions can be amplified and expectations from family and friends can add to the pressure.  For survivors, this time of year can be especially difficult. For some, when others get together or go away, feels of isolation and loss can predominate. It is important to remember that we all have a right to what we do and don’t want to do over the holiday period. 

In this combined November-December edition of the newsletter we speak about self-care and ways to look after yourself during this period.  We have also developed a new fact sheet outlining the different kinds of coping strategies, their purpose and building constructive coping strategies.  We have also included a link to an easy to follow, guided grounding exercise which was one of our most popular videos during Blue Knot Day this year. 

Importantly if you feel that you need support, contact the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 AEST. We will be open right through the holiday period as will the National Counselling and Referral Service (Disability) on 1800 421 468.

Finally, we would also like to thank you for your continued support this year.  Your kind messages of support through social media, email and over the phone mean a lot to us and reinforce the effect of the work that we do.  In these challenging times, the community around you can be very helpful.  We are in this together and your support means a lot to us and the people we support.  Thank you.

Warm regards

The Blue Knot Team

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New Fact Sheet

Coping Strategies


Coping strategies are behaviors, thoughts, and emotions that people use to reduce the pain and stress of trauma. Coping strategies are often automatic and effective in the short term but can also be harmful and become risky over time. They can also cause challenges both for the person and the people around them.  This fact sheet explains the different types of coping strategies and how to identify when they become harmful.

Download the fact sheet here

Download the PLAIN ENGLISH fact sheet here


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Restoring Hope are looking for men to share their story

Guided Grounding Exercise


When we are feeling unsafe in our bodies, we can become hypo-aroused or hyper-aroused, grounding techniques can be one way of returning to the present moment and re-connecting with your body in a safe way by bringing ourselves back inside our ‘window of tolerance”. There are many different techniques which can include greater movement, breathing and re-orienting. In today’s video Natajsa will take us through a seated grounding exercise.  If at any stage this does not feel comfortable for you please take a break.

View the grounding exercise here


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Dozens of child abuse claims remain from organisations refusing to sign on to national redress scheme

*Trigger warning: child sexual abuse

At least 60 child sexual abuse claims have been made against one of the key “holdout” organisations named and shamed by the federal government for failing to sign on to the National Redress Scheme.


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Sanctions for failure to join National Redress Scheme Welcomed

Blue Knot Foundation welcomes the legislation being introduced to parliament to strip charities not signing up to National Redress Scheme of their charity status, said Dr Cathy Kezelman AM in response to the Federal Government’s legislation to strip organisations which do not sign up to the National Redress Scheme of their charitable status.

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Women with disability are being turned away by family violence services in Australia

Women with disability are more likely to suffer domestic and sexual abuse than non-disabled women. Many women’s shelters and domestic support services are physically inaccessible or don't have enough funding or support to accept women with complex needs.

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Disability royal commission to hear 'confronting stories' from carers and Indigenous people living with disability

The chair of the disability royal commission has warned Australia needs to be careful not to repeat "errors of the past" when it comes to First Nations children with disability being removed from their families.

Read more

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Mental Health in Australia Inquiry Report

The final report into Mental Health has been released by the Australian Government. The report discusses some key influences on people’s mental health, examines the effect of mental health on people’s ability to participate and prosper in the community and workplace, and implications more generally for our economy and productivity.

Read more

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'Least worst option' as sex assault survivors win right to speak

Survivors of rape and sexual assault will be able to publicly identify themselves under legal reforms that passed Victorian Parliament.

Holiday Self-Care

Obviously 2020 has been a very different year for us all.  With the COVID-19 pandemic all of us have lived through a time of great uncertainty. Many of us have faced the unpredictable with little support and even though most the country is doing relatively well, and a vaccine is on the horizon, summer will still look and feel very different this year. For some plans have gone out the window and possible travel to see friends and loved ones, not a certainty. For others the economic and health realities are harsh and ongoing. 

It is with this backdrop that we enter the summer holiday season. Holidays, when some people gather, or when others are more alone can be a challenging time of the year. Expectations from family members and arrangements can cause emotions to run high and interpersonal pressures to increase. 

For adult survivors of complex trauma, this time of year can be especially difficult, challenges of feeling isolated and powerless, divided complex families, and the pressure of expectations imposed. And all of this compounded by a time of social distancing, lockdowns, quarantine, masks and the threat of illness. As we all face the pressures of COVID-19 and those to meet other people’s demands it can be helpful to keep in mind that we all have the right to decide, COVID-19 restrictions considered:

what we want to do and don’t want to do
who we want to see and who we don’t want to see
what makes us feel safe

The summer season will pass by once again, as it does year by year. So this year more than ever it is time to do what you can to look after yourself, to keep safe, and if you need support, to reach out to someone you trust. The Blue Knot Helpline will operate right through the summer. You can call 1300 657 380 between 9am-5pm Monday to Sunday.

Self Care and saying 'no'

It is important to know that you have the right to say ‘no’ to anything that does not feel good or helpful for you.  It is your choice. This can be a challenge for many survivors and hard to achieve, especially when demands are coming thick and fast. At this time of the year it can be more difficult to say ‘no’, as there can be more expectations  and we often don’t want to upset people.

It’s important to know and respect our personal limits around being with family, especially with complex families, and around socialising. If we notice that we are feeling vulnerable, it is okay to not go to a particular gathering, or to go for a limited time and have an early exit strategy - create a “Plan B” and use it to break away early when needed.  Other people’s feelings are their responsibility, while self-care is our own. Saying “no” to things that are too stressful or overwhelming, is healthy self-care and good planning.

Some of us can find ourselves alone at a time when others are meeting up. It can also be difficult to feel alone, knowing that other people are together.  If you are able it can help to try and think about what makes you feel safe and nurtured – e.g. spending time outside, in nature or by water. Everyone is different. Maybe you could reach out to a trusted friend or family member if you can think of someone you’d like to speak to or see – if that’s what you’d like to do. The choice is yours. 

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We have a National Redress Scheme for institutional child sexual abuse survivors – but what about survivors of child sexual abuse in the home?

By Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, President Blue Knot Foundation – National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse alerted Australia to endemic child sexual abuse in institutions. As a community we were horrified, as survivor after survivor came forward and courageously spoke of their betrayal and often systematic violation within more than 4,000 of our mainstream institutions. Although it was substantial inquiry its terms of reference were restricted to institutional child sexual abuse alone.he reality is that majority of survivors were sexually abused by family members, friends and neighbours – and have largely been ignored. This needs to change.

In the last financial year, a majority (55%) of the more than 10,000 people supported by the Blue Knot Helpline reported that that their trauma occurred at home; 46% were harmed by parents and 6% by siblings. Almost all (96%) of child sexual abuse survivors stated that they knew their perpetrator at the time of the abuse. Of these, 70% of the perpetrators were immediate family members, 11% extended family and only 4% strangers. 

Child sexual abuse is a crime. And it is common. 

It 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. This can be particularly challenging when a caregiver – on whom the child depends for care and nurture – is abusing them.

But a child is never to blame for being sexually abused.  Many perpetrators groom their victims, and often the child’s family and community as well, often choosing a child who is especially vulnerable and for whom they have easy access. Threats, fear and manipulation are often used to silence the child and maintain secrecy. The child, and often the adult they become is left terrified, confused, helpless and powerless.

And that’s one of the challenges. We often do not see the compounded effects of child abuse until many years later, once the survivor has become an adult. Child sexual abuse can cause long-lasting impacts – some victims take their lives, many struggle with safety and self-esteem issues, and most experience deep shame and self-blame. They can become isolated and withdrawn and find it difficult to trust. Many survivors struggle to manage often strong emotions and can be readily triggered, reactivating prior trauma. 

Others struggle with their relationships – including intimacy and are unable to complete their education or consistently hold down a job. Survivors often have poorer mental and physical health than others, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders or other mental health issues. Survivors often use different coping strategies to try and manage their distress such as substance misuse, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, avoidance and overworking. Many of these survival strategies can become less constructive over time and hurt not only survivors but their families and communities as well. 

The good news is that, with the right support, people who have been sexually abused can and often do ‘recover.’ As the brain can change throughout life, we can now be optimistic about possibilities for recovery, honouring courage and holding a sense of hope and optimism. Just as children are abused in relationships of harm, so people can heal in relationships of support. As a community, we must provide supportive platforms for survivors to share their stories.

The Royal Commission showed us the importance for survivors of being listened to, heard, validated and believed. The same applies to survivors sexually abused in the home, family and neighbourhood. With lockdowns, social distancing, quarantine this year, and an increase in violence in the home, the demand for our Helpline service has increased by more than 60%. 

As a society it is time for us to honour the experiences of all survivors of child sexual abuse and their strengths for having survived as well as to support them on their journey of recovery. There is no one way to heal from child sexual abuse, but it is very hard to heal from it alone. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to support survivors to heal.     


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Looking at the Australian Social Security System through a Trauma-Informed Lens

The Cashless Debit Card Symposium was held at both the University of Melbourne and the Alfred Deakin Institute on Thursday, the 1st of February 2018. This article published through The Power to Persuade draws from presentations made on the day. In this piece, Katherine Curchin  from Australia National University uses a trauma-informed lens to assess the effectiveness of the Cashless Debit Card to address the social issues it was introduced to address.

Read More 

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Self-Care Resource
Sounds True – help to live a more genuine and meaningful life

The Sounds True website is a gateway to a curated selection of resources to help with stress relief, mindfulness, relationships, calming music, self-guided courses. A wide range of authors available and the topics are provided, many at low cost, some free and in any format that you may prefer – CD, audio downloads, books, video.

Visit the website here


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Christmas Closure


The administration office for Blue Knot Foundation will be closed for the holiday season from 5pm Wednesday 23 December 2020, returning Monday 4 January, 2021.

Our Blue Knot Helpline will operate every day through the holiday period   If you need someone to talk to please call our support line on: 

1300 657 380
Monday to Sunday 9am to 5pm
or email helpline@blueknot.org.au

If you live with disability and have experienced abuse, neglect, violence or exploitation, or need support for Disability Royal Commission contact our National Counselling & Referral Service (Disability) on 

1800 421 468
9am - 6pm AEDT Mon- Fri
9am - 5pm AEDT Sat, Sun & public holidays

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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.