Living with trauma stories from the royal commissions

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It’s hard to avoid stories about trauma and abuse in the Australian media right now.

Between the royal commission into institutional child sexual abuse and the royal commission into family violence, a stream of stories are being reported every day. I want to share my own feelings about this, and connect with others who may be feeling similarly.

I am heartbroken to hear so many stories of pain – and worse, how often people have had their stories denied and ignored.

I am heartened that these stories are coming into the light, and hopeful that we will start to see real, systemic change as a result.

I feel validated to realise how many of us have experienced trauma and silencing of that trauma – I feel less alone.

I feel triggered as almost every story reminds me of my own pain and all of its consequences over the years. My nightmares have increased.

I am saddened that many people’s trauma experiences will not fit into these royal commissions, and for them, the silence may continue. Neglect and emotional abuse. Sexual abuse outside of institutions or families. Bullying, racism, assault… the list is very long.

I am worried about those people who may want to speak up at a royal commission, but feel unable to do so because of fear or shame or other reasons. I especially worry about those consumers who have been told by mental health professionals that their memories of trauma are probably delusions. That actually makes me feel furious. I suspect that many of us in mental health systems may feel this way.

I am frustrated that, while uncovering the truth and addressing justice and prevention issues are critical, I have not heard much about the long term mental health consequences of this trauma. I have not heard much about how many of us end up in a health system that almost completely ignores trauma and abuse, often causes more trauma, and locates our problems in a medical context instead of a social context.

Every day the news reports about these commissions are tugging my heart in a million different directions. But I keep telling myself that there are thousands upon thousands of us out there who are probably feeling the same. Listening to our radios and watching our TVs and reading our papers … and sobbing for the terrible things that happen all too often in our world.

So, to those out there who are also feeling a daily flood of emotions about these stories …there is not really much else I can say, except that you and I, we are not alone.


1 Comment
  1. OMG! It was so self affirming to read your blog referring to the Royal Commission on Institutionalised violence. Every day, on the radio, the TV and in the papers the sexual abuse of others was in my face and it was incredibly distressing. It took me a while though, to realise what was triggering thesee thoughts, feelings and nighmares leaving me warn out.
    I agree with your blog – I have felt the same. In particular, mourning for those who’s stories are told but an awareness of all the stories that don’t ever get told and we continue to hold our stories in silence.
    I was very moved by the blog and continue to be very aware of a health system that finds it excrutiatingly difficult to hear our stories and act appropriately with care.

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