Act for Kids is urging the Victorian Government to listen to the voices of sexual abuse survivors and change the laws which don’t allow the identity of living and deceased survivors to be shared publicly.
This follows the #LetHerSpeak campaign which supported Chrissie Foster’s legal fight to remove a gag order on the identity of her late daughter Emma, who was a survivor of child sexual abuse.
“For too long now, the shame has lain with survivors and not the perpetrators of abuse. If we continue to silence survivors, including legally preventing them from sharing their stories, sexual abuse will continue to be unchecked,” Doctor Katrina Lines, Act for Kids Chief Executive Officer explained.
Sexual abuse remains a crime with one of the lowest rates of reporting, investigations and prosecution in Australia.
“Sadly, we know many cases of child sexual abuse go unreported leaving survivors suffering in silence, which is why it’s important to empower them to seek help, share their stories and speak out,” Dr Lines said.
Act for Kids is encouraging the Victorian Government and all governments to remove the legal barriers placed on survivors because it implies they have in some way done the wrong thing.
“The gag laws in place reinforce the stigma around child sexual abuse and the shame often felt by survivors because their identities are to be kept a secret.”
Act for Kids echoes the thoughts of Chrissie Foster, the Australian of The Year Grace Tame and members of the #LetHerSpeak campaign that the shame should always lie with the perpetrators.
Act for Kids’ own protective behaviours program teaches children from a young age to always speak up and seek help and to keep asking until someone listens.
“We must do better at empowering survivors to have their voices heard. Removing legal barriers, such as gag orders for survivors is a positive step in the right direction,” Dr Lines said.
Act for kids encourages everyone to learn the signs of sexual abuse.
Signs of sexual abuse:
- kissing, holding or fondling a child in a sexual way
- exposing genitals to a child
- talking in a sexual way that’s not appropriate for the child’s age
- making obscene phone calls, text messages or remarks
- persistently intruding on a child’s privacy
- penetrating a child’s vagina or anus by penis, finger or other object
- having sex with a child under 16 years of age
- showing pornographic films, magazines or photographs to a child
- having a child pose or behave in a sexual way
- forcing a child or young person to watch a sexual act
- forcing a child or young person to have sex with another child
- oral sex
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