Australia 'Still so taboo': Abuse survivor makes podcast to heal family pain

20:30  12 july  2018
20:30  12 july  2018 Source:   theage.com.au

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After a lifetime of repression and denial, the 25-year-old childhood sexual abuse survivor has created the podcast Silent Waves in an attempt to address and heal the traumas that haunt her family . "It's still so taboo , but it's happening, it's happening behind closed doors," Raquel said.

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Abuse survivor Raquel O'Brien has confronted her trauma in her podcast 'Silent Waves'.© Supplied Abuse survivor Raquel O'Brien has confronted her trauma in her podcast 'Silent Waves'.

Raquel O'Brien is ready to talk.

After a lifetime of repression and denial, the 25-year-old childhood sexual abuse survivor has created the podcast Silent Waves in an attempt to address and heal the traumas that haunt her family.

In one-on-one interviews with her mother and brothers, including ex-AFL star Heritier Lumumba –formerly Harry O'Brien, who sensationally walked away from his career citing health issues in 2016 after calling out a racist culture at Collingwood – Raquel finally exposes the truth behind the family's high-achieving facade.

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Making the seven-part series in partnership with Melbourne's Nearly podcast network, and revealing the abuse she suffered at the hands of her older cousin and devastation wrought on the wider family by her unstable, criminal father was a daunting but ultimately cathartic task for Raquel.

"I'm feeling so liberated. I don't feel so emotionally suppressed anymore," she said.

Raquel as a child with her family.© Supplied Raquel as a child with her family.

"And for my family, it has been the first time they're all hearing each other's perspectives so it's been even more healing for them."

Nearly executive producer Courtney Carthy said what Raquel and editor/producer Georgina Savage had created together was "incredible".

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"Not just an incredible podcast, something simply incredible," he said.

Since its launch at the beginning of July, Raquel has been contacted by many survivors of abuse thanking her for telling her story.

"I can't believe the response I've had; private messages saying 'thank you' and 'now I feel like I can share my story with someone'," she said.

"To have people hear echoes in their own experiences was always the intention."

Particularly important was taking on the less-visible subject of familial sexual abuse and societal reluctance to acknowledge family dysfunction, so the family's narrative is interspersed with comment from professionals in the field.

"It's still so taboo, but it's happening, it's happening behind closed doors," Raquel said.

"That's something I touch on how incredibly complicated it is to unpack when it's a family member. It's torture."

Currently studying sociology at Swinburne, Raquel credits making Silent Waves with setting her life back on course.

"Before the podcast, I was aimless with no direction, I felt so ashamed," she said.

"I want to be a strong voice in this conversation because I feel like I've processed just about everything and now I'm just ready to talk."

Centre Against Sexual Assault: 1800 806 292. National sexual assault helpline 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732.

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