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Campaign urges victims to speak out against child abuse



The World Today Archive - Monday, 17 July , 2000  00:00:00

Reporter: John Thompson

COMPERE: A powerful new campaign to highlight the prevalence and lifelong affects of abuse in early childhood has been launched in Sydney this morning by the widow of Rugby League legend Peter Jackson who died from a drug overdose three years ago.

Siobhan Jackson broke down as she launched the advertising campaign which is to be running on radio and television. She's urged victims of early child abuse, particularly men who mask their feelings and the emotional scars, not to be scared and to seek counselling and to speak out.

John Thompson has our report which begins with the voice of Siobhan Jackson.

SIOBHAN JACKSON: Think of the Dad who never got to see his daughter's first soccer goal, or his little boy's face as he came up the driveway with his blue ribbon after winning the cross country. Think of the life you don't get to live if you don't become a survivor of childhood abuse.

JOHN THOMPSON: Siobhan Jackson, unfortunately her husband was not a survivor. Peter Jackson was well respected, well loved, a larrikin and a family man and a consummate football player. He earned the highest honour by representing his country. But in 1997 his life came crashing down. He was drinking too much and he was hooked on heroin. He ended up overdosing and dying.

Through it all he harboured a secret. He'd been abused as a child by his football coach.

SIOBHAN JACKSON: Three days before Peter died he wrote a letter. I'd like to share parts of this letter with you. 'He told me it wasn't unnatural and that everyone did it. I knew it wasn't right, but I felt obliged due to the privileges. The sexual assaults continued as did the privileges. I was totally confused and felt powerless to stop these assaults. I tried to forget the abuse. I had it deep down somewhere in my body. I used to pretend it didn't happen. For the next 12 years I have used drugs and alcohol. I told no one. I was too ashamed and too guilty to utter a word.

In 1992 I finally told my wife about what happened. I felt like a load had lifted off my shoulders. But still the drug and alcohol abuse continued. It led to bouts of depression and low self-esteem. During mid-1996 there was a lot of publicity surrounding the Wood Royal Commission, and the activities of some paedophiles. This triggered memories of what happened to me and I fell into a deep state of depression. I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and went on anti-depressant drugs. From then until now I have only existed, not lived.

JOHN THOMPSON: Today Siobhan took part in the launch of an advertising campaign by the group Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse. It features Peter's daughter Lucy.


LUCY JACKSON: My Dad is a rugby league legend, having played for Queensland and Australia. But few people know he carried a terrible injury throughout his career. He was abused as a child.

UNIDENTIFIED: In 1997 footballer Peter Jackson died of a drug overdose. He and the family he left behind are just a few of the many victims of child abuse.


JOHN THOMPSON: The founder of ASCA, Liz Mullinar says men who are victims particularly must be encouraged to speak out.

LIZ MULLINAR: I think men particularly the shame, as I mentioned before, is extraordinary. Because if you're 15 and you're sexually abused by a man what does society think of you? What would anyone here think if they heard or read in the newspaper that a 15 year-old had been sexually abused? You'd all think, 'Oh, well, he's old enough to say no.' And they don't realise that is not a possibility.

I've heard that so many times and I think Peter's letter points out how powerless he felt even though he was a 15 year-old boy.

JOHN THOMPSON: The campaign emphasises that the victims of this sort of abuse cannot ignore it. With figures indicating that 80 per cent of prisoners, 70 per cent of drug users and 70 per cent of child abusers having themselves been assaulted as children.

SIOBHAN JACKSON: I hope a victim will identify with Peter and realise that being sexually abused is nothing to be ashamed of. I hope a paedophile will acknowledge the lifelong destroying pain caused by their actions and seek help. And I hope a child caught in an abusive situation will have the strength and courage to say no, and to tell someone, and to help break the silence. Thank you for your message, Peter.

COMPERE: Siobhan Jackson, launching that special campaign today. And our report by John Thompson.



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