Anyone affected by child sexual abuse at schools, churches or sporting groups is urged to attend today’s Royal Commission public forum in Bathurst.
This will be the only public forum in the region for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The forum is open to individuals, community groups and service providers and will give people the chance to find out more about the commission's work or register to share their story with a Royal Commission officer.
"The issue of child sexual abuse may be a confronting topic for many people," Relationships Australia Bathurst branch manager Leona Bishop said.
This is not the first time Bathurst has been the focus of child sexual abuse allegations
Strike Force Belle was established in 2008 to investigate allegations of a paedophile ring at St Stanislaus' College and All Saints' College in the 1970s and 1980s.
To date, the strike force has laid more than 300 charges against 11 former priests and school staff.
Ms Bishop said speaking privately or publicly at the Royal Commission can be empowering and helpful, it can also be distressing.
"It can re-traumatise survivors, that is why the need for support and referrals," she said.
"Those affected often report a sense of relief that finally have been heard them and believed them.
"Victims were often silenced as children and not believed.
“Often if they did disclose, they were punished for making these allegations against respected members of the community."
Victims of child sexual abuse can suffer long after the incident with relationship issues and families, mental health issues, substance abuse, high suicide rate and loss of intimacy.
Ms Bishop said the loss of innocence at an early age can lead to a loss of dignity, shame, humiliation and sometimes can also feel responsible for the abuse.
Relationships Australia has been providing community-based support services to those affected by the Royal Commission since its inception in January, 2013.
The Royal Commission's public forum will be held at Bathurst City Community Club today from 5.30pm-7.30pm.
Children under the age of 16 who want to attend should be accompanied by an adult.
For more information about the forum, contact email@example.com.
Established in January, 2013, the Royal Commission has already held more than 30 community forums across Australia
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