The Royal Commission

A chance for ALL our voices to be heard

I’m so happy that Julia Gillard is pressing on with the Royal Commission into child abuse. I’m so grateful for people like Detective Inspector Peter Fox who had the balls to go on television and talk about it when no-one else would. I’m grateful to all the people from all the different support groups that kept up the fight for all these years.

When I was asked to go public, I wasn’t sure about it. I was tired of seeing other kids in the industry falling to pieces after all they had been through. I knew I didn’t want any other kids to go through what I did. I was very fortunate that I was able to speak in magazines and on television about my abuse. I copped a lot of shit about it. Hell, people on the whirlpool forum are still bitching about me having gone on TV to talk about it. I’m glad I did it though. The last three years have changed me so much personally. Being able to talk about it, being able to let it go and not keep it inside anymore has changed my whole outlook on life. Sure, there were super hard days, there were days when I was so heavily criticized I wondered if I had done the right thing.

I was grateful I had started a discussion. I was happy that people were finally openly talking about abuse, even if they were bitching about me while doing it. The main point was, it was no longer a taboo subject.

My only sadness was when people commented that while it was great that I could talk about it, because I was given that platform where I could, what about all the other victims out there. The ones who weren’t famous enough to go on TV and talk about it. What about them? Would they ever be given that opportunity to speak? It’s true, it’s not fair that some people get the opportunity to be heard while other don’t.

Well, now they have. I’m so glad that EVERY victim of child abuse out there will be given the opportunity to tell their story. That we can all go forward, we can all add our piece. We can all seek a little bit of justice.

I hope that everyone uses this opportunity to be heard. I know it can be tough. It can be very scary to talk about your past. It can be horrific reliving it while talking about it. It can be soul baring. But it’s totally worth it. It might take a while for you to realize the difference the talking has made, but it will make a difference.

I urge all of you to take this opportunity to tell your story. Do it for yourself. Do it for the others before you, and do it for the others behind you. If we all stand up and talk about the past, hopefully the ones in the future won’t have to….


Cardinal Pell & the Royal Commission

Helping victims heal

Cardinal Pell wanted to know how dredging up the past and seeing cases of abuse in the media was going to help victims. Let me help you out on this one Cardinal.

Matt & I were just talking over the weekend about how much I’ve changed over the last 3 years. He said something switched inside me while I was teaching acting classes. I had a fire lit under me and I was so angry. So very, very angry. All these emotions I had suppressed for so long came to the surface. I had so much rage inside over the past. I was so hurt at all I had been through. I was angry at what happened and I think even angrier at the continued cover up.

I was terrified of speaking up, but I knew I had to do it. Somebody had to do it. Anybody. If nobody else would, then it had to be me. Then I started to talk to Steven at Woman’s Day. It was like a crack in a dam. Once I started talking, I couldn’t shut up. It was out now, I couldn’t take it back. I just grabbed my cojones and ran with it.

Then, I was asked to shut up again. I think that made me angrier. Then, over the last couple of years, I’ve been through a plethora of emotions. I went from anger, to slowly learning patience. I started to let go of the hate inside me. I learnt more patience as the first year rolled on. Then I’d get frustrated. Then I’d mellow again for a bit. I wanted things to move faster. We could see things stalling and we’d do an interview and things would start rolling again. After a while, especially while the Sandusky case was going on, I could see that things just take a while, and I really had to just sit back and wait. Watching that gave me faith that there would be an end, eventually. It also gave me hope.

Meanwhile, I was still getting letters from other victims. Some had great news of their abusers being arrested. Others wrote letters of solidarity. Some just wrote to say thanks. I started to see I had made a difference, and I started to relax.

Meanwhile, people could see me changing. I was no longer carrying this dark secret. I was no longer ashamed to be “Sarah Monahan”. I found my inner strength. I decided I wasn’t going to sit around waiting for the case to be done. I decided to start living my life. I was going to start doing all the things I wanted to do in life, not just things others wanted me to do. I joined the Guard. Then I applied for the deployment.

I was in the office for 8 months and only a couple people knew I used to be an actress in Australia. Then came that night I got the phone call. I was so happy. I came into work, and people couldn’t understand why I suddenly looked so happy. They said they’d never seen me smile like that before. They’d never seen me so ecstatically happy. I felt like a new person.

You’ll never understand how weird it is to try to explain to some Americans you’ve been working with for almost a year that you’re a former child star, that you’re in the middle of an investigation, and you’ve just had a guy arrested….. Sometimes it’s easier to say, Just Google it. Or watch the ACA video.

Now, there’s been more & more in the media about child abuse. People are finally talking about it. Here’s the thing Cardinal Pell, I’m happy when I see it. I may cry when I read people’s stories. I may empathize with them. I hurt a little for people who have been through traumatic abuse. But at the same time I’m so incredibly grateful that people are being heard. With each victim telling their tale, I feel like another small weight is lifted off my shoulders. I feel like there is hope that one day we’ll live in a world where victims won’t feel shame. That emotion will belong to the abusers.

With each story in the media, I feel bolder. I feel more powerful. I feel like I’m getting my strength back. I’m taking myself back. That we’re all reclaiming that small innocent child that we were. That even though we were ignored or hushed back then, that we’re finally allowed to shout from the rooftops now.

Yes, seeing all the abuse may be painful, but it’s going to be a good hurt.

For you and your church however, it may not be so nice. If you really care about the victims, and truly want healing, don’t be condescending and treat us like we need to be kept in the dark. That just makes you sound like the predator. Accept that we need to speak our piece. We need to talk about it. We need to hear other people stories, so we know we’re not the only ones going through this.

It’s like group therapy on a much bigger scale.


A Royal Commission!

We’ve come so far on our attitudes to child abuse

The last few days the papers have been full of stories on child abuse. It’s awful that it’s so prevalent, but I’m so happy to be seeing it in the papers. I’m so glad that we’re starting to talk about it. We’re starting to acknowledge that it exists. We’re no longer content to just sweep it under the carpet and think that if we just ignore it, that it will be like it never happened.

Thank You Prime Minister Julia Gillard

I saw this article when I got into work, and it said grown men were brought to tears. I watched the video of Prime Minister Julia Gillard talking about how they were going to open a Royal Commission. As she spoke of children being let down by adults who could have helped them but who chose to ignore it, or cover it up, I felt a warm streak down my cheek and realized I too was crying. Her words rang so true, for being abused it awful. To live your life knowing that others helped cover up the abuse it even more traumatic. It makes you never trust others. You can’t trust authority figures. You learn that everyone is out for themselves and will let others suffer for their own gain. I turned my back on the industry because I knew I’d never feel safe in a studio. How could I trust anyone who worked there? They’d always put their own paycheck ahead of someone else’s basic human rights.

But today, I feel like we’re finally moving in the right direction. I’m so proud of Julia Gillard and the Australian Government for stepping up and realizing that we can no longer ignore the issue. I’m grateful that they’ve heard our voices. They see our tears. That they want to try to make it right.I’m so proud that in less than 3 years since I went public, we’ve gone from an attitude of “How dare she talk about that so publicly?” to Lets listen to these kids and do something about it.

Hopefully now everyone will find their voice, find their strength. Find a way to heal. Let’s hope they look into all the corners. Not just the church, but everywhere that kids are being abused. – Yes, even TV studios.

From the bottom of my heart, Thank You Julia.


Bravehearts calls for Royal Commission into Sexual Assault

Bravehearts renews calls for
Royal Commission of Inquiry into child sexual assault

Bravehearts has received the full support of the National Child Protection Alliance in its reignited calls for Prime Minister Julia Gillard to hold a National Royal Commission into the sexual assault of Australian children.

A Royal Commission should examine all clandestine, cultural, illegal and systemic activities, policies, laws and practices which compound the actual and potential sexual assault of Australian children within all environments including churches, institutions, courts of law, government and non-government organisations.

Bravehearts Founder and Executive Director Hetty Johnston, said sweeping powers are needed to comprehensively investigate all allegations of child sexual assault and the wilful cover-up by people and practices that betray the duty of all adults to place the best interests and protection of children first.

“Our children deserve protection; they deserve decisive and immediate action from those with the power to protect them,” she said.

“Our politicians must step up to the plate. The evidence around the level of danger our children face is indisputable. The impetus to do this properly is with a Royal Commission that closely examines the issue, so that we can stop child sexual assault in our society. We are not content to continue to simply mop up the carnage, we need this to happen and it needs to happen now.”

Ms Johnston said an earlier call for a National Royal Commission in 2003 in the wake of the Peter Hollingworth Anglican Church debate almost succeeded. The Labor Party, then in Opposition and led by Simon Crean and Jenny Macklin supported the calls, as did The Greens. Since that time the threats against our children have expanded and the need for an Inquiry crucial.

It follows allegations this week by a senior New South Wales police officer who claimed the Catholic Church not only impeded inquiries into child sex offences but competent police officers were removed from investigations.

“Child sexual assault and the issues surrounding it are endemic, they are national and they demand a national response,” said Ms Johnston.

“The Catholic Church has a great deal to answer for but it would be wrong to suggest that it is the only institution with serious matters to explain and equally, it would be wrong to believe that these issues stop at the NSW border.

“There is no question a Federal Royal Commission is needed immediately. Child sexual assault is the largest crisis facing our children, not just in the Catholic Church, and not just in NSW or Victoria.”

Research shows that 1 in 5 Australian children will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. They are boys and girls, black and white, rich and poor and they live in every nook and cranny of our nation. This heinous attack is happening in various degrees of complicity in churches, in institutions and in all communities.

The outcomes for children and families in terms of mental health are catastrophic while the economic outcomes can be measured in the billions every year.

In October, Bravehearts launched its breakthrough 3 Piers to Prevention strategy – Educate, Empower, Protect – solid foundations to making Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child by 2020.

It will cost an average of $8 million per year for Bravehearts to deliver on its strategy to initially prevent 28,000 children (pa) from being sexually assaulted by 2020. Australian governments will need to support these initiatives for the targets to be achieved.

These actions will save an estimated $5.2 billion in costs associated with the ramifications of child sexual assault on survivors, their families and the community.


Witch Hunt or Fourth Estate?

Media Coverage of Child Abuse

This week I’ve noticed there’s a lot of coverage of child abuse cases. While the fact that so many kids are being abused makes me sad, I’m thrilled that it’s now making front page news. Over the last couple of years, it’s become more and more acceptable to talk about it, to cover it. To acknowledge that it happens.

We’ve come a long way in the last 2.5 years. When I went public with my story, people were furious. He wasn’t named, and I was told to name and shame or STFU. Then, he was named, and people were furious. Couldn’t win either way. At least he’s alive to defend himself…. (Looking forward to that!) The last few weeks, nobody seems to have any problem with Jimmy Savile being named, even though he’s dead and can’t refute the claims. I wonder if people are ok with it because we’ve come that far in the last couple years we now actually believe girls when they speak up, or if it’s because he’s just so obviously creepy there’s no doubt, or if it’s because he’s dead and doesn’t have to live with a possible tarnished rep.

No matter, I’m thrilled to see the media covering abuse. I’m so glad I was a part of that. I hope there’s lots more cases where people can use that medium to get justice, when they’re not being listened to in other avenues. I don’t think it needs to be just famous people either. Regular people should have the ability to be heard too. People might call it a media witch hunt, but if nobody will listen to you, or worse, it’s getting repeatedly swept under the carpet, the media can be an important tool. When you’ve been silenced for so long, seeing your words everywhere can be very powerful and healing.

Plus, I bet if a kid told their predator they were going to tell not only their parents, but the newspaper, it’d stop pretty quick….


How to catch a Predator

Why we need better tracking of Pedophiles

Jimmy Savile

There was an interesting article on today about Jimmy Savile. Most of it seemed to repeat a lot of my rant from yesterday. There was one particular paragraph that really stood out to me though:

Youngsters made several complaints to police over the years, none of which led to charges. The chief of London’s Metropolitan Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe, has apologised, saying police failed to piece together Savile’s “pattern of behaviour” from the disparate complaints.

How many different cases now have we heard of kids reporting something to the police, only to have it brushed over as not significant, or worse, buried on purpose, and then other kids going to the police, having the same thing happen, and then finally something explodes and somebody finally pays attention? Then, there’s no denying there was  a pattern of abuse. There was a definite MO. That maybe if somebody had listened the first time the kids spoke up, that other kids might not have been abused.

In the US, the system is screwed up. I know, I work in an Intel Office. I see first hand that an area may be covered by a Police Dept, a Sheriff Dept, a few different Federal agencies, and these guys don’t share very much information between themselves. Something could be reported to the Police, and the next time it gets reported to the Sheriff. Until it hits further up the chain, somebody may not connect all the dots…. But, that’s why they have Intel centers. Everyone sends in their reports, they get looked over, put into a map, sent up to analysts, and also re-distributed back down to the field, where boots on ground can also see what’s going on in their area.  It may be an analyst that sees a pattern, it may be someone like me putting it into the system, or it may be a cop reading my weekly paper that sees something of interest. They can see a pattern. We might notice the same name popping up again and again, even if it is for small stuff. Or it may not be a person, but it’s the same incident, over and over.

Now, I have no clue what kind of system England has, and I’m not going to pretend I do. I’ve never worked in a law enforcement setting in Australia either, but I do know each State has ONE Police Dept, and then there’s the Australia Federal Police, who are more like the FBI. So I’m sure there’s not quite as much red-tape on sharing information between different agencies. So how hard would it be for someone to set up some kind of database that tracks complaints on sex offenders? Not just on kids, but all sex offenders. It could be a completely internal system, that’s not shared with anyone else. But my suggestion would be that anytime a complaint is made, that the whole complaint and the name of the offender is put into the system. Then, anytime a new complaint is made, the system could be searched to see if that person is in there already. Even if you only have 2 complaints, if the MO is similar, and chances are good that the kids didn’t collude, you can assume there’s something going on. The person could be investigated further, not just dumped into a pile of “not enough evidence”. If you’ve got 2 people telling you about the one person, you’ve not got a pattern, and evidence.

Maybe there already is a system in place in Australia like this, and I just don’t know about it. But it seems like there’s lots of cases where multiple kids have been to the cops about a person, but nobody connected the dots till somebody went public….

Now, after the person has been convicted, they need to go on a public sex offender register. Then normal civilians can look at it and see if the nice neighbour offering to babysit their kids is a genuinely being nice, or if they’re just trying to access their kids….


Creating our own monsters

What happens when you make someone untouchable?

Tomorrow is Halloween in the US. Its a time when all the networks show scary movies. People dress up as ghouls and goblins and other frightening fare. The last couple years outfits like Priests with altar boys attached have started surfacing….

Hollywood makes lots of scary characters. Untouchable demons. Hideous creatures that terrify children. I was most afraid of Stephen Kings It. I couldn’t walk over a storm drain for years and had a fear of clowns. Years later, I watched It again. It was cheesy and no longer terrifying, but I could see what scared me. The undercurrent of predation on small children.

It talking to kids from the storm drain
Freddy Krueger. Wes Craven thought a child molester was scarier than a child killer...

A couple years ago, they remade the Freddy Krueger movies. We went to see it at the cinema right after I went public. I didn’t know that Wes Craven had changed Freddy from being a child molester to a pedophile. It was very weird watching it while going through all the hoopla. It was very emotional. Wes said when he originally wrote the films, Freddy was meant to be a pedophile, but the studio didn’t like it, as there was a series of high profile cases of molestation at the time. When they re-did it, he made it the way he wanted it, saying that a child molester was the worst thing he could think of.

But what happens when studios create real life monsters? Or when society lets people  develop into an untouchable persona?

People wonder how it can be that people like Jerry Sandusky or Jimmy Savile could have molested so many kids and gotten away with it for so long. The problem is,  as a society, we’ve created these monsters. We’ve allowed them to operate untouched. We’ve given them access to our kids and let them know it was OK for them to do it.

Jerry Sandusky. People knew he was raping young boys, but he was still untouchable.

Look at Sandusky. He was in football. He was built up to be this greater than life human. When someone stepped up to say maybe he wasn’t so great, they were hushed. They were told not to rock the legacy. Which just made him even more powerful. It gave him a power trip to know he could get away with it.

Jimmy Savile - seriously? This guy gives me the creeps just looking at him on the telly.

Jimmy Savile was some creepy looking dude with bad teeth. The studios built him up to be an icon. Along the way, as he was molesting girls, anyone who dared speak up was shut down. They were told he’s Jimmy Savile. That’s just part of his persona. Which just made him even more untouchable.

Roman Polanski. He raped a 13 year old girl and people still want to work with him.

Roman Polaski raped a young girl. Violently. He was

supposed to do time, but then fled the country. However, all these useless Hollyweird types keep insisting he should be forgiven because he’s an artiste.

There’s another guy called Victor Salva. He was sent to prison because he’d been busted filming himself during acts of oral sex and rape with a 12 year old boy, but he was allowed to work with kids again, making movies like Powder, for Disney. Yes, the same Disney that’s aimed at kids and has a whole spate of pedophile rumors swirling around them.

Victor Salva - Director and child molester.

Outside of Hollywood, society does the same thing. Instead of cutting someone down while the allegations are fresh and before a person becomes untouchable, we build people up to become nightmares. People won’t dare question a priest who spends extra time with kids. Boy Scout leaders are just doing their best for their troops. Soccer coaches are just paying extra attention to the gifted kids. If the pedo is also into charity, like Sandusky or Savile, they’re built into Sainthood. You can’t speak out because you’ll be responsible for that charity not getting any money. Which the pedo works out is another great tool to blackmail his victims into not talking.

We need to stop canonizing Pedophiles. We need to stop thinking it’s ok for someone to be touching kids because they do good things for other kids. They’re not helping kids. They’re using them as a cover to get to kids.

People were so scared of Jimmy Savile that the full story didn’t come out till after he was dead. Meanwhile, he’d become such a larger than life figure that he’s gotten a medal from the Queen. People knew he was raping young girls and they kept it quiet because they didn’t want to ruin his image.

Jerry Sandusky was raping children in the showers and in his basement. But he was helping kids become footballers.

Gary Glitter. Once a pop star to being arrested on child porn and molestation charges.

What the fuck is wrong with people? How about we start outing people before they get to that point where people are scared shitless to say anything against them. How about we not empower these predators?

Why don’t we stop watching films made by filthy scum like Roman Polanski? I don’t give a shit if he directs films. Give me a loud speaker and a crew and I’ll direct a film. I promise I won’t rape anyone while I do it.

What scares me the most in all these cases that are coming out is just how many people knew what was going on. So many people were aware of allegations, or had witnessed the abuse firsthand. So many people who were in positions where they could have said something. They could have put a stop to it. All these people were intimidated, and only contributed to making the pedophile and even bigger monster. They turned them into real life Freddy Kruegers.