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Older Australian survivors of abuse breaking their silence

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3 Dec

Older Australian survivors of abuse breaking their silence

launch-admin Dec 3, 2014 0 1275

·       ASCA launches the 1in4 Facebook campaign today

·       Research from the ASCA Professional Support Line revealed an increasing number of Australians aged 40+ are reporting experiences of prior childhood trauma and abuse

·       Anybody affected by childhood trauma can find help and counselling support on 1300 657 380

Australia, 17 November 2014: Today, Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA), has launched their 1in4 Facebook campaign, in support of the one in four Australian adults who are affected by childhood abuse and trauma – an estimated five million Australian adults[1]. The campaign is aimed to increase community awareness to show that someone you know could be suffering in silence.

Marking this campaign, ASCA today released new research from their 1300 Professional Support Line showing the confronting statistics of adults living with the effects of prior childhood abuse in Australia. The research revealed the most common age a child is abused is between ages 6-10 years old (20%) and the majority of callers seeking help were aged between 40-49 years old (30%).

The research found that 13% of abuse occurred between the ages of 11-15 years and 6% of abuse occurred under five years of age. A further 7% reported that the abuse was still ongoing at the time of the call; and 53% disclosed abuse at multiple ages.

Age at which abuse/trauma occurred








16 years and older


Ongoing abuse


Multiple ages


Source: Adults Surviving Child Abuse

The recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s interim report found it takes survivors an average of 22 years to tell someone about their abuse[2].

Age of Caller Coming Forward


















Source: Adults Surviving Child Abuse

President of ASCA, Dr Cathy Kezelman, emphasised the importance of public awareness and said that more needs to be done at a community level in order to de-stigmatise the issue of childhood abuse and trauma.

“With the majority of people coming forward to tell their stories at an older age, it suggests that seeking counselling support can in fact take even longer, sometimes 30, 40 or even 50 years. The personal and public cost of silence in the face of trauma can be devastating,” she said.

“The 1in4 Facebook campaign highlights the prevalence of adults living undetected with the long-term impacts of childhood trauma and seeks support through donations. This campaign is raising funds to deliver workshops to survivors, families and friends around the country proven to support recovery. We believe this campaign will not only raise community awareness around the long-term impacts of abuse but also encourage family and friends to support those who may need help. It is about enhancing a safe and open discussion, and building pathways to recovery.”

In the last year, ASCA counsellors are aware of an increasing number of older Australians calling the line for support, some in their 70’s and even in their 80’s telling their story for the first time.

Dr Kezelman, believes this is because many older Australian survivors of childhood abuse and trauma have felt empowered to tell their story as a result of the overwhelming response of the Royal Commission.

“We are seeing more and more Australians coming forward to talk about what has happened to them, most notably older people, largely due to the Royal Commission putting a spotlight on the issue. This, along with high profile cases such as the conviction of Rolf Harris and Robert Hughes, has helped people feel courageous enough to speak out and seek help,” Dr Kezelman said.

It is not only survivors of institutional child sexual abuse who are sharing their story with the ASCA counsellors but those who have experienced all forms of childhood trauma, including in the home, where abuse is far more common. Previous ASCA research showed 65% of abuse occurred in the home, 10% within institutions and 6% in care[3].

Dr Kezelman added: “Many of the older callers reported never telling people of their abuse before due to the fear of speaking up and not being believed. They often report carrying a lifetime burden and have felt that it was so long ago, that it’s too late to heal. While recovery is often a long journey, research has shown recovery can and is possible at any age, which is why services, such as ASCA’s 1300 Professional Support Line, are so crucial.”

Other key findings from the research include:

·       One in four Australians are survivors of complex childhood trauma and abuse

·       The majority of perpetrators of childhood trauma are male (72%). When sexual abuse alone is examined the data shows that 91.8% of perpetrators were male

·       78% of callers to the ASCA professional support line are survivors, 10% are supporters of survivors such as family and friends, and 7% are health care professionals.


Help and support is available from the ASCA professional support line on 1300 657 380, 9am- 5pm Monday-Sunday.

– ENDS –

Media Contact: Louise Proctor louise@launchgroup.com.au 02 9492 1003 / 0452 574 244

About ASCA: www.asca.org.au

ASCA is the leading national organisation supporting the estimated five million Australian adults who are survivors of childhood trauma, including abuse. ASCA provides hope, optimism and pathways to recovery for adults.

At the forefront of pioneering trauma informed policy, practice and research, ASCA has been instrumental in supporting the work of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and people engaging with it. This includes the training of key workers and practitioners.

In 2012 ASCA released Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery, a global first in setting the standards for clinical and organisational practice. ASCA is a founding member of the national Trauma Informed Care and Practice Advisory Working Group.

Formed in 1995, ASCA provides a range of services including professional phone support with trauma informed counsellors, a referral database, advocacy, research, workshops for survivors and their supporters, along with education, training and professional development for workers, organisations and health care professionals.

About ASCA’s 1in4 Campaign: www.1in4.com.au

ASCA’s 1in4 Campaign is to raise awareness around the one in four Australian adults who are survivors of childhood abuse and trauma. It consists of a Facebook campaign with a social awareness video, which demonstrates that many people are living in silence with the long-term impacts of abuse.

It also seeks donations to support ASCA’s program for recovery with the delivery of nation wide workshops to survivors and their family, friends and loved ones. The campaign is designed for the wider Australian community to help de-stigmatise the issue, create a platform for a safe and open discussion and offer practical support. The campaign was created for ASCA by creative agency Matterhorn.

[1] Estimated from a range of key resources

[2] Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Interim Report Volume One, June 2014. Accessed via http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/about-us/our-reports/interim-report-volume-1-final-020714_lr_web

[3] Research from Adults Surviving Child Abuse’s Blue Knot Day media release, 27th October 2014


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