Everyday thousands of children are being sexually abused. You can stop the abuse of at least one child by simply praying. You can possibly stop the abuse of thousands of children by forwarding the link in First Time Visitor? by email, Twitter or Facebook to every Christian you know. Save a child or lots of children!!!! Do Something, please!

3:15 PM prayer in brief:
Pray for God to stop 1 child from being molested today.
Pray for God to stop 1 child molestation happening now.
Pray for God to rescue 1 child from sexual slavery.
Pray for God to save 1 girl from genital circumcision.
Pray for God to stop 1 girl from becoming a child-bride.
If you have the faith pray for 100 children rather than one.
Give Thanks. There is more to this prayer here

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Family Highlights Personal Tragedy of Child Sexual Abuse as Royal Commission Wraps Up

A Non-Survivor's Story
By Candice Prosser, ABC News

David Gitsham died from stomach cancer in 2005. (ABC News: Candice Prosser)
Walking into the Gitshams' home, which is as pleasant and friendly as they are, it's easy to see the love they have for their boy.

Pictures of their late son David adorn every room, proudly showing his happy, infectious smile.

Like most parents Helen and Brian Gitsham have many happy memories of their son to share, but through it all is an undeniable sadness.

"There isn't a redemptive moment, it's just an awful story and sometimes you think, 'Oh, I just wish we had a nice, happy story to tell', but it's not, there's not a lot of redemptive moments in any of this," Mrs Gitsham said.

"A lot of people don't want to know because it's a nasty thing to happen to someone, it's nasty that it happened to someone so vulnerable and people really don't want to talk about it."

In the 1970s and 80s David Gitsham went to St Ann's Special School in Adelaide's southern suburbs, where paedophile school bus driver Brian Perkins preyed on vulnerable children.

When David's story became part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, his parents didn't want him to be referred to by a set of initials.

"Because they have a disability they are protected, their identity is protected, our identity was being protected, and they become faceless people of no interest to anybody because they don't have a personality, they don't have a vision of what a person looks like," Mrs Gitsham said.

Faceless and voiceless!

"These are people, real people with personalities and loves and to treat them as though they weren't human almost was an anathema."

Helen and Brian Gitsham did not want David to become a nameless victim during the royal commission.
(ABC News)

"I said, 'I want to speak David's name, if I'm going to give a statement, because he was a person, he's not an initial, and what more can you do to him, he has died.'

"In the end we could speak David's name and that's important because David was a very precious human being."

Inquiry looked at more than 50 case studies of abuse

In the context of a royal commission spanning years, which has heard of the enormity of systemic failings and atrocities, the Gitshams don't want the children at the centre of it all to become lost.

"This has been a huge inquiry and so ours is just one case in about 50-odd and we were case study number nine so there's been a whole lot since then," Mr Gitsham said.

"The significant thing for us is that the commission contacted us recently to ask whether they could include David's story in the final report, so we're aware that somewhere in that report will be David's story."

A collection of photos of David Gitsham. (Supplied: Helen and Brian Gitsham)

It's a harrowing story the Gitshams only fully discovered years after David began displaying distressing behavioural changes, because the abuse was covered up for so long.

"He then started to behave really unusually and there would be screaming at night time and, you know, we'd be sort of asleep and the next thing the lights would flash on and there'd be screaming," Mr Gitsham said.

They only learned later the significance of the light switches; Perkins had used the lights in the school woodwork shed to signal to another paedophile who would come and join in on the abuse.

David died of stomach cancer in 2005 and his parents believe the trauma he suffered contributed to his ill health.

"We think he internalised everything that had happened to him and therefore didn't talk about it and that's why we think he began having a lot of stomach problems," Mrs Gitsham said.

David remembered for 'just loving people'

The tragedy may be all that defines the Gitshams to outsiders, but to those who loved him, David's story is so much more than that.

His parents smile as they describe his affectionate, caring, "gregarious" personality and his love for the Adelaide Crows, jigsaw puzzles and people.

"He just loved people as they were, which was a gift," Mrs Gitsham said.

A plaque dedicated to
David John Gitsham.
(ABC News: Candice Prosser)

"If he knew we were having visitors he would sit on the fence and wait and they'd arrive and he'd jump up and throw his arms around them and say, 'hello', he loved other people and he was the best hugger you could possibly imagine.

"He was well loved by his sister and she's devastated, of course, we're all devastated … but I don't think we realised until after he died how much other people loved him too."

'They cannot be trusted to govern themselves'

The Gitshams hope the royal commission's final report will lead to significant cultural changes within institutions and greater accountability.

"They cannot be trusted to govern themselves, there needs to be an outside independent body that monitors this and calls them to account and audits the way in which they are responding to allegations of abuse that are reported to them," Mr Gitsham said.

"There was nowhere to go, you feel absolutely helpless, you just feel like giving up and I think probably a lot of people have given up over the years," Mrs Gitsham said.

"You're so vulnerable with these powerful institutions who can say all the right words but it doesn't necessarily mean it's followed by actions."

The Gitshams said a financial redress system wasn't the only solution, and it was important to ensure the heartbreak they have endured was never repeated.

The Gitshams' beloved boy is gone, but his memory will never be forgotten.

"It reminds me of a quote by Aeschylus, the Greek poet from 2,500 years ago," Mrs Gitsham said.

"'He who learns must suffer and even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart and in our despair and against our will comes wisdom through the awful grace of God', so no redemptive moment but maybe a bit of wisdom."

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