This booklet has been written from the gathered wisdom of many survivors of child sexual
abuse, counsellors and research. It aims to share with you stories and knowledge about child
sexual abuse, and most importantly what has helped in the journey of surviving and thriving.
It is dedicated to all women who have experienced child sexual abuse.
The term survivor is used throughout this booklet in acknowledgement that victims of child
sexual abuse face many challenges and find their own ways to survive and grow.
The title Sharing the Un-shareable reflects survivors experience of the freedom to speak about
things they felt could never be shared, and is a quote from one survivor (Kate), sharing her
experience of speaking with other survivors.
‘Sharing the Un-shareable’ was compiled by Raelene Boxwell and Julie Blyth from the NSW
Health Education Centre against Violence. Updates for Queensland compiled by North
Queensland’s Combined Women’s Services Inc. A big thank you to Vicki, Heidi, Mandi and
Therese from Heartfelt House and to Donna Roese for compiling resources.
Many survivors shared their stories and journeys, in particular, those from Heartfelt House
in Alstonville and the Jacaranda Project in Northern Sydney. A very big thank you to Di, Kali,
Heather, Lorraine, Mia, Jan, Angela, Heather, Zoe, Liza, Sandra, Jacqueline, Julie, Vicki, Shirley,
Jacqui, Jennifer and Jacinta.
Thank you to our artists; Leannne Tobin, Jacqueline King, Jan McMullen and the Artfelt Exhibition
Contributors: Lesley Brown, Suzanne Chamberlain, Wendy Lageman and Francoise Suaver, and
to Ashley Wells for design and layout. Thank you also to all those who took the time to read and
edit this booklet.
We acknowledge all First Nations people on whose land and sea we live and work; we honour
their Elders past, present and emerging. We particularly recognise the unique experiences
of colonisation for First Nations Women and the contribution their voices make within the
community, toward reconciliation.
Reading this Booklet
If you are a survivor reading this booklet, read and use what is relevant to you. Everyone’s story
is unique, but you may draw strength from knowing you are not alone, and that there are many
paths to recovery.
This booklet starts with some information and facts about child sexual abuse. It then moves
on to Women’s Stories, and the power of speaking out.
Understanding the impact of child sexual abuse in later life follows, then some shared wisdom
about what helps in the journey of recovery.
Dealing with particular issues looks at some of the complex things that can happen after child
sexual abuse like different forms of self harm, dissociation, fragmented memories, and issues in
relationships with family, partners and children.
There’s a chapter for family and friends, then other resources and links to services you might
We hope you will find in this booklet some stepping stones to assist you in your journey.