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Resources for Survivors

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Going to court

Useful advice about going to court when you are the victim

It is your decision to lay charges if you are the victim. It is important to know that once that decision is made, all further decisions about the case will be in other hands. This is because in legal terms the case is not your case - it now belongs to the State.

Before deciding to proceed, find out everything you can about the whole process. This includes making a statement, the arrest procedure, bail conditions, the committal hearing, the trial and the support services available to help you.

Request information about the court process and read it carefully. Victims Services has an excellent website called Justice Journey to help victims and other witnesses through the NSW court system.

https://www.victimsservices.justice.nsw.gov.au/Pages/vss/vs_justicejourney/vs_justice-journey.aspx

Ask as many questions as you like. The more information you have the better prepared you will be. Write down everything you can remember about the crime. When you are preparing to make a Statement take your notes with you to help you remember everything you need to include in your Statement. 

If you can’t work with the police officer/s assigned to your case, speak to the officer in charge and ask for someone else.

Make sure that you are informed about each stage in the process before it happens.

In sexual assault cases, if you don’t wish to face the accused in Court, ask to use the CCTV room. If you have a support person with you, they can stay in the CCTV room while you give your evidence and are cross examined. 

Having a support person with you during the whole process is your right if you want it.

If you ever feel you need to be protected from the accused, find out what can be done and request it. 

Find out the name of the lawyer, in the prosecution's department, who is handling your case. Contact them whenever you need to. Recognise that there will be times when they don’t have any additional information for you. 

Keep a diary of everything that happens. Make sure this includes the names of all lawyers and contact people involved, in case you need to contact them again. This will become a written account of what you’ve been told. 

If you need a break when you are testifying in court, ask for one. That is your right.

If you need a glass of water or a break, you are entitled to ask the Magistrate or Judge.

Remember if you make a mistake when you are being cross examined, don't worry. Once Defence has completed cross examination, the Prosecutor can ask further questions and ask you to clarify anything. 

Being a witness

PREPARING FOR COURT

Ask the police for a copy of your statement before your day in court. Don't wait to receive it on the day of your court appearance. Read your statement as often as you can and especially the day before court. Remember your statement is what you will be tested on in court. 

Think about the event/s about which you will be giving evidence. What happened first and what happened next? Try to remember details like dates, times, descriptions, actions and exact words used. Read the statement you gave to the police. If you don’t have a copy, you can ask the police officer involved in the case or the lawyer for a copy. Bring any statements, notes or documents you have about the case with you to court. 

Arrange a meeting place at Court with the police officer in charge or your court support person. Try to arrive at Court on time so that you won't be flustered. It is important to keep as calm as you can under the circumstances. 

THE DAY IN COURT

When you get to the court, go to the court office or inquiry counter and ask where you should wait. Don’t discuss your evidence with any other witnesses. Be prepared to wait. If you require special care or feel threatened in any way tell the police officer or lawyer. Courts usually sit from 9.30 am to 4.00 pm. 

IN THE COURTROOM

You will be told by the police officer in charge the court number where the case will be heard. 

A court officer will call your name when it is your turn to give evidence. The court officer will ask you whether you wish to swear an oath on the Bible or make an affirmation (a promise to the court that you will tell the truth). You will then be taken into the Court room and shown to the witness box at the front of the courtroom. 

The Crown Prosecutor will ask you questions about what happened. The Defence Lawyer will cross-examine you on your statement and your evidence given. Remember, if you make a mistake when you are being cross-examined or wish to clarify what you've said, don't worry. The Crown Prosecutor questions you again after you've been cross-examined. This is an opportunity to clarify or fix the mistake if the Crown Prosecutor thinks it’s important. The Judge or Magistrate may also ask you questions about your evidence. Judges sit in the District Court and Supreme Courts and are addressed as 'Your Honour'. Magistrates sit in the Local Court and are also addressed as 'Your Honour'. 

GIVING EVIDENCE

Consider each question before you answer. Don't rush. If you don’t understand a question, say so and ask for it to be repeated. Take your time so you can give a complete answer. If you are not sure about an answer, say so. Speak clearly. Keep focused. Keep your answers short and to the point. 

Remember, if you need a break, ask the Judge / Magistrate. If you need a glass of water, ask for one. 

For support when going through the court process in NSW contact Victims and Witnesses of Crimes Support (VWCCS) through their website at www.vwccs.org.au. 


My Story – by Lindy

My Story By Lindy


My Story - May 2018 Newsletter Blue Knot

Just So You Know

 

Just so you know
I'm doing OK
Though not so much in the usual way.
There are things that I do
That help me keep calm
Like counting my steps as I walk round the farm.


Just so you know
I'm doing just fine
If I hang out the washing just so on the line.
It's important to use the right coloured pegs
When I hang out the shirt with the blue
Round the edge. 

Just so you know
I'm doing just great
If I always leave early
And don't arrive late.
The car must start
The lights must be green
And my clothes must be pressed. 
With a really straight seam.

Just so you know
I'm doing quite well
Though the story of you 
Will take courage to tell.
I will tell a little
And see how I go
Though I'm fairly certain
It will be quite slow.

Just so you know
I'm living my life
Despite what you did
Despite all that strife.
It's not been easy
At times it's been tough
There's much that I do
That is bluster and bluff.

Just so you know
There are times that I laugh
It's when I forget
That you're in my past.
I throw back my head
And I let it all rip
I don't even stop
When my nose starts to drip.

Just so you know
I oft' times feel good
Though it's taken awhile
I'm not out of the woods.
But if I don't try
If I give up the fight
I'll have let you win
And that doesn't feel right.

 

By Lindy

 


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Putting the Pieces of the Self Together One Moment at a Time

Putting the Pieces of the Self Together One Moment at a Time

Fundraising

In Australia, 5 million adults (1 in 4) are living with the long-term impacts of childhood trauma and abuse. One such man is Ballarat child abuse survivor and advocate Peter Blenkiron, who has described himself as a damaged man, working full time to find healing from the abuse suffered at the hands of a St Patrick’s College Christian Brother when he was 11 years old.


Following two hugely successful runs in 2016 and 2017, including at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, the ‘Putting the Pieces of the Self Together One Moment at a Time’ exhibition, with support from Creative Victoria, will open in Melbourne on 30 June, and run until 21 July at The Dax Centre.


Curated by Blenkiron’s childhood friend and fellow advocate Vanessa Beetham, the exhibition serves to raise awareness of the impacts of childhood trauma, including mental health issues, suicide and premature death.


“Capturing his journey of healing through the lens of a smartphone, Peter’s photographic diary ‘Putting the Pieces of the Self Together One Moment at a Time’ offers a rare insight into the inner world of a child abuse survivor as he slowly learns to re-inhabit his body and mind’, said Vanessa.


The story of one, is the story of many. Included in the exhibition is a monumental artwork by Archibald Prize finalist 2016, Daniel Butterworth, featuring 30 portraits of child abuse survivors and advocates. It is a symbolic representation of the countless numbers of children abused in the Ballarat district. The participants share a vision of societies working effectively together to reverse the destructive ripple effect linked to childhood trauma.


On Friday 6 July , a fundraising event will also be held as part of the exhibition, which will be opened by Martin Foley MP, Minister for Creative Industries, Minister for Mental Health with guest speakers including Dr Judy Courtin, author of ‘Sexual Assault and the Catholic Church: Are Victims Finding Justice?’.


The fundraising event is open to the public and complimentary tickets can be booked online here.

All funds raised on the evening will help support Blue Knot Foundation and The Dax Centre, which works closely with artists and communities to increase understanding of mental illness and psychological trauma.


 ‘Putting the Pieces of the Self Together One Moment at a Time’, 30 June - 21 July 2018, The Dax Centre, 30 Royal Parade, Melbourne. Tel: 03 9035 6258 

Email: info@daxcentre.org


A short film by film maker Andrew Sully and curator/producer Vanessa Beetham recount's Peter's personal story can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/239158731


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My Story - by Christina

Someday The Sun Will Shine Through

My Story by Christine - May 2018 Blue Knot Newsletter

 

One of my brothers died last year.

Prior to his death, he had been one of those people who chose to have no contact with his family. His life ended in a bare room in one of those miserable supported accommodation facilities.

Given his long absence and then death, I can only presume his reasons for making the choices he did. What I do know is that we grew up in a house that overflowed with anger, resentment, violence, and scant encouragement.

As a child, I was a scared little thing who discovered the (false) protection of withdrawing within myself and physically hiding. The oft-used comforter of food also became part of my limited repertoire for coping.

As a teenager, I was socially inept, struggled to connect with others and punished myself for my alleged awfulness by hitting myself on the head repeatedly. I still wear long-sleeved shirts to cover a few small scars wrought by a razor blade that paradoxically gave relief.

My brother was introverted and lacked confidence, and I really did not get the chance to know him at all.

Ours was a home in which you could be dragged out of bed and beaten with a thong, picked up while you were walking to school and taken back home to be punched and told how useless you were, have doors banged against you, and be smacked in the face in front of others and then beaten when they left.

You would await another brother’s homecoming from the pub to see if he would fall sleep or create havoc. This drunken brother has never been held to account for his many infractions, including trying to push our mother out of a window.

When I think of the claim that children are resilient – a platitude surely invented to excuse a multitude of sins – I think of unwell and lonely adults in places such as homeless shelters, prisons and psychiatric hospitals. I also think of all those people who do their best to function but who still struggle. My heightened flight response, fear of people in positions of authority, and anxiety sometimes still causes me difficulties.

My brother’s passing certainly reignited old hurts.

I have found some peace in recent years, however, courtesy of a private psychologist, yoga, meditation, a naturopath (seen due to gastrointestinal issues), and a wish to not let my whole life be dictated by the direness of its first decades.

When I think of my brother I think of the lyrics of a song by the band Free, from their Heartbreaker Album, 1972:

Throw down your gun, you might shoot yourself
Or is that what you're tryin' to do?
Put up a fight you believe to be right
And someday the sun will shine through

You've always got something to hide
Something you just can't tell
And the only time that you're satisfied
Is with your feet in the wishing well

But I know what you're wishing for
Love in a peaceful world.

When I think of adult survivors of childhood trauma in general, I think of this quote from The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by the psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk:

We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body. This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present. Trauma results in a fundamental reorganization (sic) of the way mind and brain manage perceptions. It changes not only how we think and what we think about, but also our very capacity to think.

 


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Save the Date - Blue Knot Day 2018

Save the date!


Blue Knot Day – Monday 29 October 2018

Blue Knot Day 2018Blue Knot Foundation’s annual awareness event, Blue Knot Day, will be held on Monday 29 October 2018, with events and activities happening throughout Blue Knot Week, Monday 29 October – Sunday 4 November.

Blue Knot Day is Blue Knot Foundation's national awareness day celebrated in October every year. On this day, we ask all Australians to unite in support of the 5 million Australian adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse.

If you would like to organise a Blue Knot Day event in your community, volunteer your time or find out more about Blue Knot Day, please contact Fundraising Manager, Cath James on cjames@blueknot.org.au or 0466 788 371 or visit https://www.blueknot.org.au/BlueKnotDay for further information.

Grill'd restaurant supporting survivors

This month Blue Knot Foundation was selected as a charity recipient in Grill’d restaurant’s Local Matters community program, raising funds and awareness for local community services.

Each month Grill’d restaurants select three local community groups to support, with information about each group displayed on three separate jars in the restaurant.

“We are delighted to support Blue Knot Foundation through the Grill’d Local Matters program”, said Rebecca, Store Manager, Grill’d Neutral Bay. “The work of Blue Knot Foundation has obviously hit a chord with our customers, with the organisation receiving so much support throughout the month”.

Thank you so much to Grill’d, Neutral Bay and all the customers who supported Blue Knot Foundation.

Beyond the Blue Hair…

Blue Knot Foundation supporter Kirsty Pratt has been dying her hair blue for years in support of survivors, during her campaign to remove the Civil Litigation Limitations Period in Western Australia. Now that the legislation has passed, Kirsty is fundraising to support more survivors through the ‘BEYOND THE BLUE HAIR’ fundraiser, where she will be dying her hair back to its natural colour!

To support ‘BEYOND THE BLUE HAIR’, visit Kirsty’s fundraising page at:

 https://give.everydayhero.com/au/beyond-the-blue-hair-1

Our congratulations and thanks to you Kirsty.

 

 


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Partners

Health Direct

 

Head to Health

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 AM
0425 812 197 or ckezelman@blueknot.org.au

For media enquiries, please contact: 
Jo Scard
0457 725 953 or jo@fiftyacres.com

 

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