Victoria is the southern-most state in mainland Australia, and includes the city of Melbourne. It is the most densely populated state in the country. There is good reason to assume that the statistics below are likely reflected in most western societies.
Detective Superintendent Rod Jouning, head of the Victoria Police sexual and family violence division, said the true rate of child sex abuse by family members and others known to the victim was horrifying. He said Victoria Police's campaign to tackle family violence had encouraged unprecedented reporting of partner on partner violence, but too many child sex abuse victims were still not coming forward.
|More and more sex assaults involve children - 60% increase in sex abuse of |
children under 10 years of age in past 5 years. 90% increase in parental sex abuse!
I know it says 5 years, but by my count it is four.
The new data, obtained exclusively by The Saturday Age, show that children were the victims in almost three-quarters of sex assault cases and a third of rape cases in Victoria last year. Girls aged 10 to 14 are the most likely to be abused.
Senior police fear the rate of child sexual abuse will match the family violence crisis – which has largely focused on abusive relationships between adults. The crime statistics reveal large increases in offences against children under 10, and sexual assaults by parents.
Other revelations uncovered during interviews with police and support services include:
- More children in primary schools – some as young as five – are being counselled after instigating troubling sexualised behaviour against fellow students;
- Increases in men approaching youths online, pretending to be their age and getting them to exchange explicit images, before extorting them for sex; and
- Men committing sexual offences against girls after arranged marriages.
The focus on institutional child sexual assault, including the royal commission, and media attention on infrequent cases involving teachers, community leaders or celebrities also obscured the true picture of offending, he said.
Detective Superintendent Jouning said being sexually assaulted by a family member was no different to someone being abused by a teacher, priest or scout leader. "In fact it's probably worse."
A woman who was abused by her father, mother, and a worker on their farm has spoken publicly for the first time about her ordeal, to urge others to come forward and stop living with their secrets.
|Kate - Child sex abuse - victimized by her own family|
She approached police three times before they believed she had been abused, but said her ordeal was worth it because she had been able to break free of the control her abusers had over her.
"I've had some silly people say 'Oh just forget about it'," she said. "You're not talking about it for nothing, you're talking about it because it's haunting you, and you need to do something.
"I thought that I must feel guilty, and that's why I shook when I went to the police station, but it wasn't guilt, it was intimidation."
The state government will next week unveil the Dandenong multi-disciplinary centre to tackle sex abuse, which will combine police, Department of Human Services, Centre Against Sexual Assault and Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine staff in the same building for the first time. The Dandenong centre will be the largest in Victoria and the only site with a VIFM presence.
Three centres are already operating with three more expected to open in the next 12 months. While the centres are expected to greatly improve the response to victims they also drive huge increases in reporting.
At the Barwon centre, which opened in 2012, DHS, CASA and police staff said they had all noticed an increase in reporting.
DHS team manager Catherine Porter said more victims were coming through the door because the centre was less intimidating than some DHS offices and police stations.
Barwon CASA counselling and support services coordinator John Blomfield said he was sure the rate of recidivism among sex offenders was higher than reported.
He said an increase in reporting would bring more offenders before police, and paint a clearer picture of their prospects of rehabilitation.
"Where do they go or what do they do?," Mr Blomfield said.
"It's nice to think they don't go on and reoffend, but you'd have to convince me."
Detective Superintendent Jouning said he was concerned that an increase in sex offending could also be driven by the accessibility of more "deviant" pornography, such as rape, bestiality, incest and child exploitation material. He said this material could blur the lines of consent. I have mentioned a few times that I think the growth in the 'culture of rape' that is occurring in many countries is largely due to the easy access of pornography to adolescent boys. It appears Jouning is somewhat in agreement with me.
"Unless there's screaming and they're yelling 'no', they're not enjoying it. You get that kind of warped thinking. It becomes normalised."
|Detective Superintendent Rod Jouning|
CASE STUDY A
After her mother died, victim A was sent to boarding school. Her father remarried, and her stepmother and her two sons moved into their home. The girl would visit her father's house on weekends, and on the first visit she met her stepmother and stepbrothers.
Her father was a heavy drinker. On one visit, her father started touching her breasts and genitals. The abuse progressed to rape. She believed her stepmother was aware of the abuse, but did not intervene. She stopped going home and became a ward of the state.
When she reported the abuse as an adult, her mental health had suffered and she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and other personality disorders. After she reported the abuse, one of her stepbrothers also came forward. He detailed years of sexual abuse committed upon him by his stepfather in Victoria and interstate. Their tormentor was extradited to Victoria, found guilty in two trials, and sentenced to a significant jail term.
CASE STUDY B
Victim B played sport in a boys' team coached by his brother-in-law. The man was married to the victim's older sister. He often stayed with other members of the team at the coach's house. The coach allegedly gave them alcohol.
During one sleepover, the coach allegedly started touching the boy's genitals, and forced him to masturbate him. The coach allegedly progressed to raping the boy.
The victim left home at 16 and ceased contact with the coach, who his mother had trusted to care for him. He found himself in trouble with police, and eventually reported his abuse. He believes he offended because of an inability to deal with the trauma of his alleged sexual abuse.
After the report, the victim's older brother spoke to police and alleged that he had been abused in an almost identical fashion by the coach. The accused was charged and committed to stand trial later this year.
*Recent cases reported to Victoria Police.
Can you see the extraordinary need for prayer. Despite programs coming online, despite police being better trained and more sympathetic with victims, despite the high profile child sex abuse has received in the past few years - it is still increasing and increasing frighteningly fast. While many people work tirelessly against CSA, we need God to intervene and for that, we need to pray.
Please pray my 3:15 PM prayer above, or something like it. The children need your prayers.