"They did not believe me" : Adult survivors' perspectives of child sexual abuse by personnel in Christian Institutions

Death, Jodi (2013) "They did not believe me" : Adult survivors' perspectives of child sexual abuse by personnel in Christian Institutions. Crime Justice and Research Centre, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


Executive Summary Child sexual abuse (CSA) in Christian Institutions continues to be of serious concern in public, criminal justice and institutional discourse. This study was conducted in conjunction with Project Kidsafe Foundation and sought the perspectives of Australian survivors of CSA by Personnel in Christian Institutions (PICIs). In total, 81 individual survivors responded to an online survey which asked them a range of questions about their current and childhood life circumstance; the nature, extent and location of abuse; grooming strategies utilised by perpetrators; their experiences of disclosure; and outcomes of official reporting to both criminal justice agencies and also official processes Christian institutions. Survey participants were given the option to further participate in a qualitative interview with the principal researcher. These interviews are not considered within this report. In summary, survey data examined here indicate that:

• Instances of abuse included a range of offences from touching outside of clothing to serious penetrative offences. • The onset of abuse occurred at a young age: between 6 and 10 years for most female participants, and 11 and 13 years for male participants. • In the majority of cases the abuse ceased because of actions by survivors, not by adults within families or the Christian institution. • Participants waited significant time before disclosing their abuse, with many waiting 20 years or more. • Where survivors disclosed to family members or PICIs, they were often met with disbelief and unhelpful responses aimed at minimising the harm. • Where an official report was made, it was most often made to police. In these cases 53% resulted in an official investigations. • The primary reasons for reporting were to protect others from the perpetrator and make the Christian institution accountable to an external agency. • Where reports to Christian institutions were made, most survivors were dissatisfied with outcomes, and a smaller majority was extremely dissatisfied. This report reflects the long-held understanding that responding to CSA is a complex and difficult task. If effective and meaningful responses are not made, however, trauma to the survivor is most often compounded and recovery delayed. This report demonstrates the need for further independent analysis and oversight of responses made to CSA by both criminal justice, religious and social institutions. Meaningful change will only be accessible, however, if family, community and institutional environments are safe places for survivors to disclose their experiences of abuse and begin to seek ways of healing. There is much to be learnt from survivors that have already made this journey.

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ID Code: 59565
Item Type: Report
Refereed: No
Keywords: Child Sexual Abuse, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Christian Leadership, Violence, Violence Management
ISBN: 978­0987467836
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Crime & Justice Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 The author.
Deposited On: 02 May 2013 03:58
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2013 16:23

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