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Supporting survivors of child abuse in Australia

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18 Jun

Supporting survivors of child abuse in Australia

launch-admin Jun 18, 2013 0 1347



Statistics from ASCA helpline show toll of abuse

on relationships and mental health


Australia, 18th June 2013: Reacting to a 300% spike in calls to the Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) 1300 professional support line, since the announcement of the Royal Commission in November last year, the peak national body has released the latest figures from its call centre to shed light on some of the challenges faced by Australian adult survivors of childhood trauma.


The research is based on statistics from over 3,500 recorded incoming calls to the ASCA helpline over the past four years.


Results show that of those who identified the impacts of their abuse, 78% reported that their relationships were affected, 68% said that they suffered from mental health problem and 61% reported multiple impacts.



Impacts of Abuse  (of callers who identified this)


Mental health


Involvement with criminal justice system










Physical health




    Family other than partner







                                                                                                                                                Source: ASCA


President of ASCA Dr Cathy Kezelman said: “The Royal Commission has brought the topic of child abuse to the front of the nation’s consciousness, but there is still a big gap in community appreciation of the substantial and often multiple effects on people who’ve suffered this type of trauma. This is why we are releasing this research from adult survivors of abuse who have reached out to our service for help.


“The findings show that living with impacts of child abuse can make everyday life very difficult and for some, dangerous. Many victims turn to drugs and alcohol, battle with suicide and their jobs and health – both physically and mentally – can suffer. This makes the provision of accessible, affordable and informed support services vital for survivors.”


The research also provides insight into the age at which survivors experience abuse.  Of those who indicated their age at the time of their abuse, the most common age bracket to be harmed by any form of abuse is between 6 – 10 years of age (62%), followed by 11 – 15 years (42%), under 5 years (28%) and over 16 years (7%). A staggering 46% reportedly suffered abuse across multiple age ranges.


Of survivors who revealed the types of abuse they experienced:

·         61% said they were sexually abused

·         29% reported being emotionally abused

·         27% were physically abused

·         5% reported suffering from neglect

·         22% reported multiple types of abuse


Dr Kezelman commented: “There are still many people in our society who are in the dark about the scale of abuse being perpetrated against children and the harm it causes. As a society we need to break the stigma and taboo, and make anyone and everyone feel they can come forward. To do so takes enormous courage. Often the first step is realising that you are not alone, and we want to encourage people to reach out to others for help. Whether you have a friend or sibling who’s has been harmed or if you have, there is help from organisations such as ASCA.”


With the Royal Commission increasing attention on the issue of child abuse, ASCA has ramped up its support services, thanks to funding provided from the Federal Government. ASCA has therefore been able to extend the hours of its 1300 call line to 9am-5pm Monday to Sunday from its original 4 hours a day Monday to Friday. ASCA has also been recruiting new counsellors for the line and will have two trained counsellors every day this month.


Dr Kezelman added: “When people seek help and support, the availability of well-trained trauma informed counsellors is crucial. The Royal Commission will stir deep emotions for many. ASCA works to ensure that any caller to its professional support line receives the support and information they need at that time, as well as referral options for ongoing care.


“The role for organisations like ASCA has grown enormously, and is likely to continue to do so as the Royal Commission starts in earnest. The increase in the number of calls to ASCA’s 1300 line since the Commission was announced is undoubtedly the tip of the iceberg.


“As a society we need to make sure that we are doing beyond our best to make survivors, supporters and even health professionals that are involved in this area feel they have somewhere to turn to.”


The ASCA professional support line can be reached on 1300 657 380.





About ASCA:  www.asca.org.au

ASCA is the national peak body which focuses exclusively on advancing the needs of the estimated four-five million Australian adults who are survivors of childhood trauma.  ASCA was formed in 1995 and provides a range of services: professional phone support, a referral database, workshops for survivors and their supporters, education and training programs for health care professionals and workers, newsletters for survivors and health professionals, advocacy, research and health promotion in the areas of complex trauma and trauma informed care and practice.  ASCA is also a founding member of the national Trauma Informed Care and Practice Advisory Working Group – advocating for a national agenda around trauma informed care and practice. ASCA is the key Australian organization providing hope, optimism and pathways to recovery for adults with complex needs who have experienced all forms of childhood trauma.

Info on ASCA’s Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery, can be found online here.


Childhood trauma:

As defined by ASCA, childhood trauma includes sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, witnessing and experiencing the impacts of family and community violence and a range of other adverse childhood events. 


Twitter: @ASCAORG

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AdultsSurvivingChildAbuseASCA


Media Contact:

Laura Douglas

laura@launchgroup.com.au or 02 9492 1002 / 0452 505 859