“Redress”, as defined by Australia’s National Redress Scheme website, means “acknowledging harm done.” For many survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions worldwide, this acknowledgement is the most important part of recovery. Although many survivors will require – and are certainly entitled to – financial restitution to help rebuild their shattered lives, the simple and all too rare act of an official apology is an important step towards healing the wounds.
However, for many survivors, that apology will never come. One of the primary hallmarks of a coercive, totalist group or abusive person is that they never apologize – any injury is always someone else’s fault – most often the victim is blamed. Abusers are gifted at laying the blame on the shoulders of those they have abused.
Fortunately, in Australia at least, abusive institutions will now have a harder time hiding their crimes; already over 2000 cases of abuse brought to light by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have been referred to authorities, and thousands of survivors of abuse will be given the financial aid needed to help them access counseling and other services. With this restitution will come the acknowledgement that they were, indeed, innocent victims, and deserve an apology not only from the abusive institution, but from the society which failed to protect them. Those institutions that do apologize will show that they are willing to change, adapt, and learn from past mistakes; those organizations that refuse to accept responsibility will be shown as unwilling to address their mistakes, and, in their unwillingness, can be named and shamed in the public eye.
We hope that more countries will follow Australia’s bold example; in redress for wrongs done, we can both heal the wounds of survivors, and prevent future abuse.
What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Do you have a story about redress from abuse that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!