Family Forum: Counselling

Counselling can help overcome historic sex abuse


More than 50 years ago, when I was 15 and in my first job after completing my Intermediate Certificate at High School, I was regularly sexually abused by my boss, a married man aged about 40.

I have never told anyone about this abuse.

I don’t feel it affected me adversely, but lately it has been on my mind and has made me think I should tell a family member. What do you think?


It is not uncommon as we age to reflect on early sexual experiences.

You are correct in identifying the behaviour as abusive, the behaviour is both abusive and illegal and carries heavy penalties for the offender, who would now be aged about 90 years if he is still alive.

It is likely to be useful for you to talk to someone about what you experienced. It is difficult to predict how family members or friends will respond, and potential responses may not be helpful (they may be dismissive for example).

The panel feels it is best for you to talk with a counsellor who specialises in this area. Uniting Communities has skilled counsellors for people who have experienced sexual abuse, (phone 8202 5190 or 1800 615 677). Relationships Australia South Australia also have skilled counsellors in this area also (phone 1300 364 277 or 1800 182 325 for country callers).

Alternatively, your GP can refer you to psychologist or specialist social worker. Fees may be reimbursed through Medicare, although some counsellors are charging a “gap”.

You may choose to discuss with the counsellor whether making a police report is advisable, this can potentially assist other victims who may have come forward.

If you chose not to speak with anyone about your experience it is very important that you do not feel any guilt or shame about what happened, you were a minor and the power difference between someone who was both your “boss” and an older adult is enormous.

He misused his power and in fact committed a crime, which in 2020 carries heavy penalties.

It is important that child, teenage and adult sex offenders are reported to the police. SAPOL Officers will treat all victims with respect. The more people report these offences, the greater the justice system’s ability to protect others.

For more information and costs about Relationships Australia South Australia counselling service, please visit here. Until June 30 all services that normally incur a fee are free. From July 1, we will be reintroducing fee waivers and reductions to eligible clients. Please discuss with our friendly client service officers. All services in Berri continue to be free of charge as usual.

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