Home > Opinion > Value the One… Reflecting on working with UCA Redress
Forget-me-not flowers- A reminder of the survivors of abuse

Value the One… Reflecting on working with UCA Redress

In the almost one decade that I have been working for the Uniting Church, I have spoken to and met with dozens of survivors who were sexually abused in the context of the Church or its predecessor Churches and read hundreds of accounts of abuse.

Survivors of this type of abuse often experience complex trauma – which means that they come to us with a range of emotional states – deep anger, unrelenting sadness, and entrenched mistrust. Heightened flight, fright or freeze responses are common. All of these impact people’s everyday lives for decades following the abuse.

What I have come to understand from talking with survivors of abuse is that we must meet each person where they are – on their journey, on any particular day, at any particular hour. We must respect that triggers can be numerous, unknown to us, and devastating.

We must value the innate being of the individual, of that unique survivor, whose journey we perhaps cannot understand. We can, however, walk alongside them for a while, if invited, listen to and honour their story and their humanity and offer them a pathway to redress and an apology if they seek it.

 It is a privilege to serve survivors and the Church in this way.

When we work to respect each individual – to make time and space to really listen, to hear what is important for them to tell us about what happened to them as a child – I hear stories of childhoods taken away, of anger at the betrayal, of lifelong wounds at being let down by those who were supposed to care.

But I also hear the most incredible hope and resilience. I learn about strength in the presence of pain, courage in the face of fear, and energy to drive change so that it never happens again. It is a recurring theme in discussion with survivors – what have you done to make sure this never happens again?

We are the keepers of these stories – and we must never forget. The lessons we have learned must drive us to prioritise the safety of the children and other vulnerable people who come to us.


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