Features Australia

Touting for abuse

Is the Royal Commission into Child Abuse turning to telephone marketing?

23 August 2014

9:00 AM

23 August 2014

9:00 AM

For well over a year now, the Royal Commission on child sex abuse has been trundling its inquisitional way around the country like Judge Jeffreys and his assizes. Soon its origin will be lost in the mists of antiquity; if anyone has already forgotten, the Royal Commission is the most enduring legacy of Julia Gillard. Floundering in her own ineptitude in the closing days of her unlamented prime ministership, she thought it up as an attention-grabber, a way to cash in on the even by then rather weary saga of clerical and other child abuse which, as far as the ABC and the rest of the right-on media are concerned, age can never wither nor the years condemn.

No doubt they would like it to go on forever, but there is some indication that the commission is running out of victims. I infer this from a telephone call a friend received one Sunday from a “market researcher” asking, quite out of the blue, whether the friend knew, should he happen to be a victim of sexual abuse, how he would go about bringing a complaint before the commission – in order to “share (his) story” as the commission’s website puts it.

That sounds to me like touting for custom, as though not enough “survivors” (as they have come to be called, as if they’d got out of a plane crash) have already come forward. If there’d been an avalanche of claims you’d think the commission would have its work cut out dealing with them without looking for more.

The caller gave his name as “Troy” and said he represented a well known polling company. “I am calling to conduct a survey,” he said. “It will take a few minutes. Are you happy to proceed?” Instead of bundling Troy off the phone as an unrequired intruder into the sabbath calm my friend, who is kindly natured, agreed. “Have you heard about the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse?” asked Troy.

“I think so,” said my friend, repressing the temptation to add, “Who hasn’t, given the blare of publicity it’s received in the media?” – especially on the ABC(which, it should be remembered, was itself back in the hippy era endorsing child sex abuse by promoting paedophilia as a “lifestyle matter”, a legitimate sexual preference, at a time when the modish liberal demand, the gay marriage of the day, was for the age of consent to be lowered to eleven).

Troy produced another question. “What do you think is the function of the Royal Commission?” To this of course one answer is: “It’s a witch hunt set up for cynical political motives by a discredited prime minister and supported by the secularist Left as a means of bashing the Roman Catholic Church.” The Left loathes the Catholic Church as the most influential opponent of its gay-marriage-and-unlimited-abortion agenda.

Troy’s next question indicated that he too might he aware of this. “Can you name” (nudge nudge, wink wink) “any major institution that has been investigated by the commission?” My colleague had no intention of falling into that trap, so he said, “Oh, I think the Salvation Army,” which is like saying that the principal enemy in the Second World War was not Germany or Japan but Bulgaria.

Now began the subtle sales pitch. “Do you know how someone who might want to submit something to the Royal Commission would do so?”

“Go to the police, I suppose,” said my friend (the commission’s website helpfully suggests three pretty obvious ways: “call, write or email”). It struck my friend that it would be rather odd if someone who had a serious complaint to make were still sitting around wondering how to make it (“Should I ring them up? Maybe I should send a note”). But perhaps the commission wishes to reach out to people in two minds about whether they were really victims or not. People who’d been touched up by the gym master at school but neither psychologically nor physically damaged by it and had just got on with their lives.

The next question seemed to insinuate that my friend might actually know of an abuse case but was being coy about advising the survivor to report it. “If you know anyone who has been a victim of child sexual abuse,” said Troy, “do you know they (sic) can contact the Royal Commission, or not?” In other words, you’re not encouraging anyone to keep something back, are you? You’re not encouraging anyone not to share their story? The only answer to that was no.

Troy had kept to his few minutes and that was that, apart from Troy giving my friend the commission’s “contact details”, presumably in case he should bump into someone who was looking for them – “Oh by the way, did I ever tell you I was once sexually abused? You wouldn’t happen to know how to get in touch with that Royal Commission, would you?”

For anyone wavering about coming forward, the commission’s website has a section called “Are you ready to share your story?” “If you were sexually abused as a child in an Australian institution, like a school, church or sports club, you can tell your story to the Royal Commission. If you’re ready to share your story, we’re ready to listen,” it soothingly announces. What is missing here? Statistics suggest that “a school, church or sports club” is not where most abuse takes place. An American survey two years ago indicated that in more than 90 per cent of cases the abuser was a family member or someone known to the family (21 per cent alone were either stepfathers or boyfriends of the child’s mother). If the situation is similar in Australia, the family is the principal danger zone.

In that case why wasn’t the commission authorised to investigate the family? After all, many PC thinkers, especially feminists, disapprove of the family as a “repressive structure”, so why not use the abuse stick to beat it? Here one can only speculate on the unfathomable motives of the bien-pensant Left. My guess is that to track down the innumerable cases of abuse that have taken place within domestic walls, to haul all the wicked Uncle Ernies (as in The Who’s rock opera Tommy) into the dock and persuade all the Tommies to tell their story, is beyond the range of even as well-funded and well-staffed an entity as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It’s much easier to send out the signal that it’s the institutions that are unique founts of wickedness and let Troy’s fingers do the walking.

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  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Looks as though another ageing, had-been celebrity is about to be thrown off the Cliff, while the really big fish go in their merry way, files marked HANDS OFF. Sickening, isn’t it? If only one-tenth of what the alternative media are suggesting is true, you’re going to need a whole new Establishment, Britisher pals.
    Jack, Japan Alps

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Let’s not call it child abuse; it’s child rape.

  • Alan Whelan

    Just two things wrong with this column. First, it’s an attempt to minimise the destructive effects of child rape. Akehurst doesn’t think “survivors” is a reasonable term for people who’ve been sexually abused as children, and likens the Royal Commission into child abuse to an “inquisition”.
    Second, I thought this column was so disgraceful that I looked up Christopher Akehurst. I found that this column is both a rort and a lie. This article, claiming to be about a current survey, is actually an old post from Akehurst’s blog, dated 24 March 2013. That is, the survey Akehurst is writing about happened – if it ever did happen at all – at least 18 months ago.
    Dear Australian Spectator, if I wanted to pay good money to read 18-month old blog posts, I’d … Well, I wouldn’t. I don’t want to pay good money to read old blogs. I’ve been ripped off. Maybe the Spectator editor was ripped off too, or maybe you guyds in Australia don’t actually care about the quality or value of the stuff you dump into the Spectator.

    • Geoffrey Brent

      Three things wrong with it. The beginning, the middle, and the end.

  • simon sheldon

    This is disgraceful, just another attempt to head off the outing of the appalling behavior of senior Catholic Church officials. A pathetic attempt to frame this as a “lefty” witch hunt, you have simply reinforced the very reason for this Comission

  • Chris Collier

    Why is this sociopathic papist writing in the Spectator?

  • jane

    Shorter version: we don’t give a toss about CSA and the damage it causes. Abusers should have free rein and the victims should just STFU with their whining and be grateful for the attention they get from their abusers.

  • Maddy

    What the actual fuck is this trash you should be ashamed of yourselves fuck you

  • lmao this is repulsive

  • Ed

    Holy shit. This is actually the most inhumane piece of journalism I’ve ever come across. I feel not at all bad for the inconvenience your friend faced in answering the phone for a few minutes. If even one person contacted was genuinely in need of support or guidance in how to come forward about an issue that is so stigmatised and personal and difficult to talk about – worth it. No question.

    If your gripe is that sporting clubs have also overseen the rape of children – I agree. Let’s investigate them too. In the meantime, given the systemic abuse that occurred in churches and church-run educational institutions, by individuals who held themselves as moral arbiters and sought the communities trust – let’s take as long as we need to hold those individuals and any who shielded them accountable.

  • John Miller

    Astonishingly, achingly awful. Beyond bad. What a complete, utter scumbag you are.absolutely nothing of any merit whatsoever.

  • nick88

    Try growing a spine and then write a column

  • Lockstein13

    Alot of good this bureaucracy did to help the girls of Rotherham.

    Just more flaccid government distraction in lieu of EFFECTIVE governance.
    AS IF they helped.

  • Michael Khalsa

    Nasty piece. Stopped reading. What’s next an article mocking people who have raped? Spectator have not read you read you before. Probably won’t again. Employ smarter people to write for you. Click bait will only take you so far. Gurgle. Gurgle.

  • Birddoggy

    Yes, you’re quite right – only children of people who pull to the left side of politics have ever been abused. What an utterly repugnant, revolting individual you are. Shame on you, though I doubt you are capable of such a notion.

  • Dr Dog

    Jesus Akehurst, I just became aware of this article because it was referred to in The Guardian piece on what a jerk you are. They were right.

  • Raquel

    The photo alone worries me. Why does the woman in the photo have to have bare legs? Why does her top have to be pulled up with just a hint of gusset? Seriously! Why not a man with nothing on his lower half? Who chose this image ffs? Bleurch.

  • La Rationalista

    I can barely contain my rage about this article.

    It denigrates the experience of those who suffered rape as children at the hands
    of people who were paid to be their protectors and moral leaders.

    It frames the inquiry as a left wing feminist conspiracy in order to destroy its
    credibility (as if left wingers and feminists have no cause to complain when
    they see injustice).

    Let’s be completely clear about this: for decades paedophiles working as Catholic
    priests insinuated themselves into positions in which they could rape their
    young charges.

    But this was not the worst part of the affair. More disturbingly, the entire church hierarchy was fully aware of the rapes and consciously engaged in a cover up to protect the organisation’s reputation. Its priorities were 1) The Catholic church 2) The priests it employed. The rights of the children and young people irrevocably damaged by the priests’ crimes did not elicit sympathy, let alone justice.

    The author of this article is a blatant apologist for the Catholic church. He denigrates those people whose lives were, in many instances, ruined by paedophile priests. He does not understand that the Commission will not hear the testimony of thousands more victims who will never come forward because they are so damaged they can never talk about their humiliation and shame. He cannot countenance the simple fact that the Catholic church had and has a responsibility in this matter.

    Yes, there are paedophiles within families, sporting clubs and wherever else
    vulnerable young people are to be found. They should be brought to justice when their crimes are uncovered, not actively protected from prosecution.

    • SarahTX2

      Agreed. And I would add that most people won’t come forward with their story until after their parents have died. Because their family/church conflict is massive. One could suppose that Akehurst may well be one of these oldsters who someone is gallantly protecting and biding their time waiting for him to go so that the truth can be told. If such a person exists, I would say to him/her that time heals all wounds and time will heal your wound.

  • Jax

    Wow! Must be awesome to make wildly sensationalised statements like the below without feeling any need whatsoever to back up what you’re saying. Click bait, or you must think your readers are absolute morons…

    ‘ the ABC(which, it should be remembered, was itself back in the hippy era endorsing child sex abuse by promoting paedophilia as a “lifestyle matter”, a legitimate sexual preference, at a time when the modish liberal demand, the gay marriage of the day, was for the age of consent to be lowered to eleven

  • trase

    you sound guilty as hell, christopher. you repulsive piece of excrement.

  • SarahTX2

    “Tommy”? My God, how cranky and old are you, Mr. Akehurst? Are you seeking to be the leader of the generation that we’re hoping will die off sooner rather than later so that we can get on with the business of stopping the Catholic Church from raping children? Are you Uncle Ernie?

    Would it surprise you to know that not everyone over the age of 80 is still supportive of allowing fake celibate priests to have their sex fetishes with children? And hardly anyone under the age of 80 will appreciate your horrid column today. Good day to you, sir.

  • Lucille

    IMO the “touchy feely” nuns are yet to be revealed.

  • MG

    You have got to be joking. Disgraceful article. Shame on you. Do you have any idea how many people have suicided because of child sexual abuse in the catholic church? You are a dickhead d-grade journalist – yet another sign of how the columnists for this publication are lacking in morality and talent.

    This Commission has nothing to do with gay marriage, you moron. Look at the way Pell reacted to abuse allegations, that is a massive issue. The Catholic church has been in denial about this abuse for decades – they are finally starting to come around – now reactionary dimwits like you come on board. I hope a sexual abuse victim hasn’t read this and gone and self-harmed or something. You attention seeking d-grade nuff-nuff, shame on you. Shame on The Spectator.

    This is about ‘institutional abuse’ – its about the way institutions respond to allegations of child sexual abuse, not how families respond when someone is sexually abused. Its ultimately our institutions which will protect us from some of the nasty elements of human nature; this, I would think, is a more thoughtful and proper conservative approach to this matter.

    Stop feeling like a victim you vile, vile piece of work. Burn in hell.

    • MG

      And I might add many Catholic commentators have absolutely blasted the church for its treatment of abuse victims – thank goodness for them.

      Shame on you.

  • Cadence Jane Brown

    1) You’re sick. There is a distinction between an act of abuse within a family and systematic, institutional abuse by an organisation that gets tax-exempt status, is exempt from anti-discrimination law, tenders for public programs involving children, health and education, interferes in secular public policy in ways that harm women and attempt to remove women’s civil rights, then turns on its own parishioners when they speak up about the abuse, spending millions of dollars obfuscating, blockling, denying, filing vexatious lawsuits and bribing desperate whistleblowers with payouts linked to gag orders. As the other commenters have said, go fuck yourself, you sick, sad bastard. 2) Feminism isn’t “PC” which stands for “politically correct.” Lots of things are politically correct – not belching in public, helping old people across the street, and so on; since announcing one’s feminist principles is likely to harm one’s social, professional and political aspirations, and because the mere mention of it causes dickheads like you to write shit like this, it’s safe to say that feminism is not PC. Furthermore, feminism isn’t about hating anything (such as families) or anyone (men). On the contrary, it’s a positive sociopolitical critique of patriarchy – a sociopolitical system – which harms men. Since you’re a male in an organisation that denies science, believes in fairy stories, your livelihood is threatened by independent, rational, critical thought you have no right to comment on the subject because you, by definition, know nothing about it. Lastly, you’re a total idiot and you DO NOT speak for me, a feminist, or any feminist, or, in fact, any woman; I love my family, I don’t hate families in general, I love my (equal) male partner, and I love men (I like people in general – you’re a notable exception). Feminists are people, and people come from families, and feminists also love their families, and most feminists have their own families. So your argument is insane. You’re just pissed off that there are women who haven’t been brainwashed by your asinine, unscientific fundy crap who aren’t bimbos who take orders from men. I’m sorry that bothers you so much, but maybe it’s time for you to go find another target to beat with your stick besides the women you hate so much? 3) Your writing is atrocious, facile and full of cliches, your attempt to sound intelligent by using an archaic French phrase doesn’t make you sound intellectual, it makes you desperate, and your grammar is terrible – you shouldn’t but anything in a quote unless you’ve referenced it. Oh, and you misuse words. Go to hell or back to school – I don’t care, just fuck off and mind your own business and let those harmed by these corrupt institutions heal in peace.

  • Lucy Lester

    this column disgusts me.

  • Well Mr Akehurst…speaking as a survivor I say “go jump!”

  • Brian Cherrie

    What a trashy piece of rubbish, not worth the time to read.

  • Russ

    Is the only audience The Spectator has left paedophiles and their sympathisers?