The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

News Reports Index

1993 Jan-May

The Press
Christchurch, New Zealand.
Thursday March 11 1993.

Mothers of abuse victims to air feelings on radio
by Anna Dunbar

Mothers of sexually abused children- are also victims, slays a Christchurch woman who will host a radio special on the issue this weekend.

Ms Kolleen O'Donoghue did research on support systems for mothers of victims as part of a Christchurch Polytechnic course in 1991.

The five women Ms O'Donoghue interviewed for the report "It Ruins Lives", all said they wanted the opportunity to be heard and acknowledged.

Mothers were also victims when a child was sexually abused, Ms O'Donoghue said.

The issue needed to be brought into the open not only to help victims but also to help others to help them, she said.

"Often families and friends want to help but don't know how to. Often the mother herself does not know what she needs."

The title of the radio programme, "942 Million Emotions", is taken from a quote from one of the two mothers interviewed for the special.

Ms O'Donoghue said that when the woman was asked what she needed after she learnt of the abuse of her daughter, she said, "When you are in that state you are frozen because there are 942 million emotions happening, I couldn't even think what I needed".

The women, who have changed their names to protect their identities, talk of the emotions experienced, ranging from guilt to anger at the abused child.

She said the more this issue was talked about the more the shame was broken down.

"The shame is a big issue. We have to learn not to feel shame for being a victim."

Ms O'Donoghue said she hoped that the programme would help mothers to take strength from the knowledge that they were not alone.

She said the children received counselling and were helped by society, but often the mothers and other family members* did not receive help.

The 45-minute "Women on Air" radio special, on Plains 96.9 FM, at 10am on Saturday, will be followed by an open-line talkback. The talkback telephone number is 340-0969.

Two therapists will join Ms O'Donoghue for the talkback. Child Helpline and the Support Network for Mothers of Sexually Abused Children will have extra staff on their telephone lines over the weekend.