Surviving Sexual Abuse: The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

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In this last regular episode of the first half of our 2020-2021 season, Breann Fallon talks to Dr. Kathleen McPhillips about her work on the Catholic Church and the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2013-2017). In her research, Dr. McPhillips utilised Erving Goffman’s work on stigma, and in this episode, she speaks on the process of stigmatisation of survivors by the institutions in which they experienced abuse, both at the time and during their process of disclosure. The conversation turns to the impact of this abuse on the survivor’s religious experience, a topic she has written on in her article “Soul Murder” (2018). In discussing the impact on faith, Dr. McPhillips highlights the impact of the commission’s findings on the broader religious community, where many experienced the shaking of faith foundations due to the central position of religious institutions in the creation of their worldview. The episode ends with Dr. McPhillips sharing her critically important pilot podcast series, The Survivor Story Podcast, which explores the experiences of 5 survivors of church-based institutional child sexual abuse in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese.

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