Historical child abuse in Australia refers to instances of child abuse that occurred in the past. It is an important topic to understand due to the widespread abuse across various official institutions, including schools and religious organisations. The significance of the Royal Commission Sexual Abuse is to provide justice for survivors while holding institutions and perpetrators accountable, as well as to prevent future abuse. 

Australia has undergone inquiries, legal actions, and policy changes to address these issues, aiming to uncover the truth, support survivors, and ensure the safety of children moving forward. There are many long-lasting effects that come as a result of child abuse, including serious mental health issues, such as PTSD. 

Understanding PTSD and Historical Child Abuse 

Many survivors of historical child abuse struggle with mental health issues, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. There are a variety of symptoms associated with PTSD, but some of the most common include intrusive memories, avoidance, emotional numbing, changes in arousal and reactivity levels, and negative changes in thoughts and mood. 

Intrusive memories can include distressing nightmares and flashbacks, while negative changes in thoughts and mood can be accompanied by detachment and difficulty with positive emotions. With that detachment can come emotional numbing, where the survivor experiences a limited range of emotions. With avoidance, survivors may avoid a range of people or emotions to limit triggers. Changes in arousal and reactivity levels can include problems with concentration, sleep issues, irritability, and heightened startle response. 

Many of the symptoms present in PTSD are also symptoms of other mental health issues, which can make diagnosis a challenge. When you choose a mental health professional to work with, it’s important to find someone who specialises in childhood sexual abuse. 

Legal Considerations 

When you reach out to institutional sexual abuse lawyers they will highlight your legal options in pursuing justice. In addition to the sexual abuse compensation scheme, you can also pursue criminal charges or a civil lawsuit. 

A civil lawsuit is likely to pay out the largest monetary reward, but the process can be gruelling and not everyone is in a position to undertake this. Criminal charges are another complicated matter, especially when dealing with historical abuse. 

As a result of the royal commission, each state has independently reviewed their laws when it comes to historical abuse claims. That has also removed the statute of limitations, however, each state has applied this differently. Institutional sexual abuse lawyers can help you navigate the legal process and determine which legal consideration is right for you. 

Rights of Survivors 

Every survivor has the right to pursue compensation and justice in the interest of finding closure for the trauma they experienced, whether it’s through the compensation scheme or pursuing criminal charges. Only the survivor can determine which path is right for them, but legal guidance is important. In some states, you can still apply for compensation if you have already settled in a civil suit. It’s important that you know your rights in every case. 

For survivors who are on a healing journey, securing some form of justice is an important part of the process. Recognising and acknowledging the abuse that took place is also a significant step in the healing journey, and it’s one that many survivors struggle with. 

Psychological Impact and Healing 

The psychological toll of PTSD due to historical child abuse can have a deep impact on the emotional well-being and daily functioning of survivors. Triggers can evoke intense emotional responses that force them to re-experience the abuse they experienced and lead to avoidance of people, places or situations that serve as reminders of the trauma. 

There is an array of therapeutic options for survivors to pursue healing, including support groups and counselling, trauma-informed therapy like EMDR and CBT, expressive art therapies, mindfulness, and meditation. 

In addition to the National Redress Scheme and other legal considerations, survivors can also draw on crisis helplines, survivor organisations, and online support communities. The key to healing your whole self is accepting any psychological assistance available to you, as well as pursuing your legal options. 

Support Systems 

Australia has several helplines and organisations dedicated to providing survivors of child sex abuse with support. They can help you heal and cope with the challenges you have been experiencing as a result of your childhood experiences. 

  • Blue Knot Foundation provides educational material, workshops, and counselling. 
  • Bravehearts can provide support through advocacy, education, and counselling to adult survivors. 
  •  1800RESPECT offers a variety of counselling services for survivors, as well as their families. 
  • CLAN was created for care leavers by care leavers.

Final Thoughts 

If you are the victim of historical child sexual abuse and you believe you are eligible for the sexual abuse compensation scheme, reach out to AJB Stevens before you file your sexual abuse claims. As sexual abuse lawyers in Sydney, we can provide you with the legal advice and emotional support necessary to navigate the claims process and ensure you receive some justice.