Survivors in Australia are waking up this week to a different world.
A world where those in positions of authority do not look the other way, shrug their shoulders and callously ignore the fact of the criminal child rape of children, the criminal coverup of those crimes and the ongoing re-abuse of the damaged adult survivors.
For decades or even longer parents, teachers, police, social workers, school principals, priests, bishops, cardinals, prosecutors, lawyers, judges, the media and, most of all, politicians have learnt or known of our suffering and did not care enough to do anything.*
Whether they thought it was not their place, or they would get in trouble for creating a scandal, or they would lose their job or social standing, or it could not be possible, or this issue was not allowed to be spoken about, or someone else would deal with it – they all left children to suffer horribly to save themselves discomfort.
And they got away with this dereliction of their duty of care, just as those who deliberately and cunningly plan and commit their crimes, and those who deliberately enable those crimes to continue, get away with their evil.
For so long we were silenced, no one spoke up for us and no one was held accountable.
Recently more and more survivors are speaking up and are being given more opportunities to do so.
But still we lack decisive, comprehensive action on this issue. The vast majority of these offenders and their protectors still slip through any protective measures with ease and are never stopped and never held accountable.
The criminals know they are still safe. And they act accordingly.
But they are not safe any longer.
Sitting in the hearing room of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in recent months I have been brought to tears many times as the realisation dawns that they are asking the right questions, they are determined to get the answers, and the information gathered will be used to develop truly effective recommendations. The tears are partly joy that the questions are being asked at last, and partly great sorrow at how much unnecessary suffering has been caused by not asking them earlier.
But this week there can no longer be any doubt.
As the smug paedophile protectors of the Catholic Church face the Commission for the first time, their facade of sincerity and their carefully crafted evasions, qualifications, diversions, excuses and misdirection are given the credibility they deserve. Absolutely none.
The CEO of the Untruth, Injustice and Denial of Healing Council, Frances Sullivan, sits smugly in the front row every day, and his lawyer offends most survivors in the room as soon as he opens his mouth. Church representatives, whether in front of TV cameras, in witness box or at bar table, make sure to say a lot of the right things, but we who understand them far better than we ever wanted, know they mean not a word of it. They still regard survivors speaking about our experiences as the problem to be dealt with. They don’t believe they have done anything deserving criticism. They still believe their way of doing things is just fine as it is, if only the biased media would focus on someone else for a change.
This week is the first time logic and brutal honesty has been applied in such strength and forensic detail to these experts in the low arts of obfuscation and mental reservation. And stripped of their protections of undue reverence and undeserved respect, they are revealed as less like moral leaders and much more like the immoral and often criminal cowards they truly are.
Hearing Justice Peter McClellan’s questions this week has brought me to the point where I can finally, for the first time in my life, relax and trust those in authority to do the job they were appointed to do.
I can see a possible future where campaigning for child protection and justice for survivors is not left to the survivors because those in power have neglected this issue so completely.
We are safe in Peter McClellan’s and Gail Furness’s hands, as we never were in the church’s.
We have been given what we asked for with this Royal Commission.
Fearless, committed, intelligent people who are not swayed by anyone’s claim of a special relationship with a supernatural being.
Let’s do all we can to help the Commission do its job.
Stay safe everyone.
* There are notable exceptions, individuals, who did put children first and did take action. But the numbers and power of those determined to silence us, preferably permanently, overwhelmed and stymied their efforts.