VICTIMS of child sexual abuse will take a step forward in their healing processes next month when the Children of Phoenix Reclaiming our City awareness walk will be held in Ballarat.
Children of Phoenix foundation chairwoman Professor Caroline Taylor said while there was still a veil of secrecy surrounding abuse today, the awareness walk against sexual abuse would go a long way towards the healing process.
Setting off from the Olympic Rings on Wendouree Parade at 1pm, Friday, September 6, school children and professionals will join survivors and the community to walk side-by-side on the day.
Forty balloons will be released in recognition of the 40 suicides as a result of clergy abuse in Ballarat.
Professor Taylor said sexual abuse continued to be prevalent in society and victims were more likely to be abused by someone they knew or were related to.
“We still have a situation where only one in 10 people will disclose and if they disclose, they will disclose years later,” she said.
“What we’re still seeing is people are fearful to disclose and part of it is they feel they won’t be believed or they won’t get support.
“If victims felt there was awareness and support, they would be more likely to disclose.”
Those who did not tell someone were less likely to seek counselling and could develop feelings of suicide, stigma and low self esteem, she said.
“Ballarat has been highlighted for its most unfortunate history of institutional abuse,” Professor Taylor said.
“Studies show family and community are part of the solution.”
Participants in the walk will have the opportunity to write positive affirmations on ribbons and attach them to a tree.
The event will be staged as part of Child Protection Week and has been supported by the Ballarat City Council.
Professor Taylor will also give a seminar on working with survivors of sexual abuse on at Ballarat Golf Club on Monday, September 2.