TWO out of three child abuse survivors who contacted a helpline were harmed by a member of their immediate family, with just 2 per cent hurt by a stranger, research shows.
A further one in four victims was harmed by a member of their extended family, one in eight by a family friend and one in 10 by a member of a religious group.
Teachers were responsible for 5 per cent of child abuse, the research found. It is estimated between four and five million Australian adults are survivors of childhood trauma.
Support group Adults Surviving Child Abuse has released the research to coincide with Blue Knot Day today, an annual event uniting Australians in support of adult survivors of childhood trauma.
Three quarters of the 2800 people who called the ASCA helpline said the child abuse they had suffered had affected their mental health.
Sixteen per cent said it had left them grappling with suicide and one in 10 had had problems with alcohol and 9 per cent with drugs.
ASCA president Dr Cathy Kezelman said supporting adult survivors of child abuse had been largely ignored by Australian society.
The research highlighted there were harsh impacts for survivors of childhood trauma. The finding that only 2 per cent of child abuse related to strangers, underlined misconceptions about the problem.
The research shows children had more to fear from their own family members, friends and relatives than from strangers. “If anything, this research reinforces the need to break the taboo surrounding childhood abuse, and raise awareness for everyone in the community about child protection and the needs of adult survivors,” Dr Kezelman said.
“By creating open and accepting communities, we can bring hope and optimism to those affected and assist survivors to reach out for the help they need to work through the impacts of their abuse and reclaim their lives.”
Mental Health and Ageing Minister Mark Butler today will launch new guidelines for responding to complex trauma associated with child abuse victims.