Table of contents
Case study 07: Parramatta Training school for Girls.
Impact of violence and abuse.
Implications and legislative policies.
The Royal commission inquiries into the institutional responses associated with the allegations and incidents associated with child sexual abuse and misconduct and related matters (Royal Commission of Australia, 2014). These matters are approached through public hearings, private sessions, as well as primary research (Wright et al., 2017). This document will present a succinct analysis of a case of child sexual abuse at the Parramatta Training School for Girls and the Institution of Girls in Hay, Australia and present a victim impact report with the perspective of mental health dynamics and psychological theories to present an evidence-based analysis. Disturbing language has been used at certain places in this report to present quotes from the case.
(Royal Commission of Australia, 2014)
The Paramatta Girls Industrial School was opened by the NSW Government in Sydney in 1877 that was later renamed as the Paramatta Training school for girls and provided out of home care for the girls who were "Uncontrollable", "neglected" or "juvenile offenders. Multiple reports about rioting by the students regarding poor conditions there were reported with incidences of physical sexual abuse that resulted in the government taking action and developing the maximum-security annex, the Hay institution. The girls in the institution were committed for a varied amount of time from six months to three years and were free to leave at the age of 18. Multiple reports regarding poor conduct were retrieved, below the age of 17 years that reported physical, sexual, and psychological misconduct in the institutions.
The child sexual abuse was reported at the Parramatta Girls and the Hay institution in New South Wales. 16 women presented evidence at the public hearing and contacted the Royal Commission with the reports of abuse. The acknowledgement of the case resulted in the retrieval of cases that spanned or more than two decades of 1950-1974 in which about 30,000 girls passed from the institution. The despair in the victims was not only limited to harsh conditions of these out of home care facilities, but also with psychological abuse along with physical misconduct. Reports associated with calling women “liars, sluts, and nobodies”. The reports of physical asexual abuse were reported against the staff members and other girls in the institution with multiple reports of rapes and assaults. Two names highlighted were of the Deputy Superintendent Gordon Gilford and Superintendent Percival Mayhew. Other perpetrators had either resigned or were dismissed by institutions after the inquiries. Many inmates confessed that did not report abuse due to multiple reasons, these included fear of getting ridiculed, shame and distress associated with the sexual misconduct in the society, and due limited opportunities for expression or consideration of their experiences.
A significant impact was observed on the former inmates concerning the physical and sexual abuse at both the institutions. The impact is multimodal and also affects the families of the individuals. Multiple witnesses provided evidence that once they were out of the Paramatta Girls and Hay institution, they had limited skills and even restricted job opportunities (Royal Commission of Australia, 2014). Many women became homeless and several resorted into prostitution and crime to support their basic needs. According to the report by the Royal Commission (2014), nine witnesses received a disability or other form of pension while most had no means of financial support. All the witnesses in congruence accepted the severe impact of abuse on their mental health and acknowledged the psychological trauma, depression, stress-related disorders, flashbacks, and severe trust issues (Sullivan, 2017). The former inmates of these institutions also accepted to have considered or attempted suicide. Further, the acceptance in the society for these girls once out of the institution was also limited and highly dispersed (Davis, 2018).
The impact of such living conditions and harsh abusive environments is likely to have had a significant impact on the mental health of the inmates along with increased chances of transgenerational trauma and severe mental health problems like anxiety and depression (Kaufman et al., 2019). The primary impact of psychological abuse in the institutions directly attacked the very virtue of the identity of the inmates. The report by the Royal commission identifies that “Inmates resorted to sticking pins into their bodies to show they were tough, to offset the pain of the abuse or to kill themselves.” (Royal Commission of Australia, 2014). Physical, psychological and sexual abuse can be related to the mental health of the former inmates through the application of multifactor psychological theory (Sanjeevi et al., 2018). The multi-factor psychological theory of child sexual abuse identifies a multifactorial relationship with the variables in relationships that are associated with sexual violence and abuse. The psychological impacts of sexual abuse can impair the trust of individuals. This occurs as the sense of the environment as a "safe place" is diminished and thus can impact the close relationships and affect the dynamics of personal as well as social well-being (Kaufman et al., 2019).
The behaviour of the authorities in these centres can directly be associated with the power dynamics and aimed to demolish the sense of identity and self-esteem in the victims (Henschel & Grant, 2019). Use of terms like “you are nobody” and “no one would listen to you slut” exert a direct implication on how the abusers used the power to ensure that victims did not have the courage to report the misconduct and normalize it (Meyer et al., 2017). A significant impact is also seen on the self-esteem of the individuals when the victims start considering themselves as the very cause of abuse. This is also associated with the dynamics of victim blaming that was pronounced through name calling and poor environment of these institutions. Impact on self-esteem also results in an increase in suicidality in individuals (Gómez & Freyd, 2017). The mental health of the victims is also affected as they struggle with coping with stress and develop impulsive and angered feelings. This is also associated with increased criminal tendencies in the victims and also induces self-harm. These mental health issues are directly associated with the trauma induced by sexual abuse and childhood trauma (Gewirtz-Meydan, 2017). The impact can be chronic with victims of childhood abuse developing mental illnesses as they are at a higher risk of developing anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, and dissociative disorders. Personality disorders may also develop in individuals with increased vulnerability for self-harm. Substance use problems are also common in the survivors of childhood sexual abuse as they are often identified with coping mechanisms (Gewirtz-Meydan, 2017)
The primary legislation that is associated with the Parramatta Training School for Girls and the Institution of Girls in Hay is the child welfare cat and out of home care established by the Government of Australia. The institutions were working under the child welfare act if 1939 that was replaced in the year 1987 (Steele et al., 2020). The act was discontinued as it had several lacunae. The part eleven of the act allowed the institutions to punish the inmates in specific situations where disobedience was observed. These punishments were inclusive of the corporal punishment that included up to three strokes on hand. Isolated detention was also permitted under this act in which the girls aged 14-16 years were kept in detention for up to 24 hours and girls with age 16 and above could be kept for 48 hours in isolated detention (Royal Commission of Australia, 2014). Invasive examinations and undignified conditions of the institutions along with illegal punishments were directly against the policies. The compensation was not sufficed as state compensation for the passers was not ensured (Steele et al., 2020).
This document presents a victim impact report associated the child-hood sexual misconduct reported in the Parramatta Training School for Girls and the Institution of Girls in Hay. The document summarizes the key findings of the case study with a brief background of how sexual misconduct and abuse prevailed for more than two decades in the institution. The impact of these incidents on the mental wellbeing of the individuals has also been assessed using the witness provides and psychological theories. A detailed summary of how the mental health of the victims can be impacted through such incidences and how the abusers used the power dynamics for the manipulation have been stated. The document also explores the impact of abuse on increased tendencies of criminality and suicidality in the victims with modalities of social exclusion and community ex-communication. The report has also summarized the legal implications that were associated with the Parramatta Training School for Girls and the Institution of Girls in Hay and how they were exploited in the case scenario.
Davis, F. (2018). “I Fought. I Screamed. I Bit”: The assertion of rights within historic abuse inquiry transcripts. Journal of Australian Studies, 42(2), 217-230. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14443058.2018.1447501
Gewirtz-Meydan, A. (2020). The relationship between child sexual abuse, self-concept and psychopathology: The moderating role of social support and perceived parental quality. Children and Youth Services Review, 104938. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740919314239
Gómez, J. M., & Freyd, J. J. (2017). High betrayal child sexual abuse and hallucinations: A test of an indirect effect of dissociation. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 26(5), 507-518. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10538712.2017.1310776
Henschel, M. M., & Grant, B. J. (2019). Exposing school employee sexual abuse and misconduct: Shedding light on a sensitive issue. Journal of child sexual abuse, 28(1), 26-45. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10538712.2018.1483459
Kaufman, M. R., Tsang, S. W., Sabri, B., Budhathoki, C., & Campbell, J. (2019). Health and academic consequences of sexual victimisation experiences among students in a university setting. Psychology & Sexuality, 10(1), 56-68. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19419899.2018.1552184
Meyer, D., Cohn, A., Robinson, B., Muse, F., & Hughes, R. (2017). Persistent complications of child sexual abuse: Sexually compulsive behaviours, attachment, and emotions. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 26(2), 140-157. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10538712.2016.1269144
Royal Commission of Australia (2014). Case study 07: Parramatta Training school for Girls. Retrieved from: https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/case-studies/case-study-07-parramatta-training-school-girls
Sanjeevi, J., Houlihan, D., Bergstrom, K. A., Langley, M. M., & Judkins, J. (2018). A review of child sexual abuse: Impact, risk, and resilience in the context of culture. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 27(6), 622-641. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10538712.2018.1486934
Steele, L., Djuric, B., Hibberd, L., & Yeh, F. (2020). Parramatta female factory precinct as a site of conscience: Using institutional pasts to shape just legal futures. UNSWLJ, 43, 521. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/swales43§ion=24
Sullivan, C. (2017). Aboriginal inmate experiences of Parramatta girls home. Australian Aboriginal Studies, (2), 84. https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=249655939924084;res=IELAPA
Wright, K., Swain, S., & McPhillips, K. (2017). The Australian royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect, 74, 1-9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213417303678
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