It had to decide whether some form of contact was in the best interests of the child."The court is effectively the umpire and hears all of the evidence," she says.But, as often happens with abused children, he found it hard to speak when interviewed by police or DHS staff.But in an interview with a psychologist, who prepared a confidential report for DHS, he said his father hurt him by "playing with (his) doodle".According to Frida Briggs, emeritus professor of child development at the University of South Australia, who sat in on the case, the girl, now aged nine, remains with the father.The mother lost custody after refusing to allow the father access.As happens with many abuse victims, he self-mutilates, using a compass or nail to slice his chest and arms. Recently, the flashbacks and nightmares have set in.
Every bit of literature points to the need to take seriously what a child in a sexual abuse case is saying." The report, written when Nathan, now 13, was a child, warned that abused children could end up suicidal. Shortly before we spoke with him in his Western District home, he had tried to cut his wrists. She sees it as an echo of his toddler years when he would get up in his cot and rock so violently against his pillow that skin flaked from his forehead.
There is a difficulty getting evidence admissible in court, something the Law Reform Commission says should be addressed by allowing what children tell trusted adults to be taken seriously.
As Chief Justice Bryant says, the Family Court was not set up to try allegations of sex abuse.
A quarter of the cases before the court involve child abuse claims, and yet the court has no independent power to investigate such allegations.
It relies on a view that says sex abuse claims are "subservient" to the "best interests of the child".
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Like most parents who have to face their worst fears, the source was closer to home. His son, however, would, as a teenager, become suicidal.