The Kavanagh Sisters Podcast

The Kavanagh Sisters Podcast header image 1

Episode 34- Barbara Scanlon (Spokesperson) & Anna Kavanagh (Founder) Alliance of Birth Mothers Campaigning for Justice (ABC)

Trigger Warning' if you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse please remember the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre 24-hour Helpline is open 1800 77 8888

In today’s podcast (episode 34) we will be talking to Barbara Scanlon (Spokesperson) and Anna Kavanagh (Activist) of Alliance of Birth Mothers Campaigning for Justice.  ABC was established in June 2019 by birth mothers who have difficulties in their engagement with The Child and Family Agency (Tusla), the Gardai and the Family Law Courts. They are now seeking major reforms of Tusla, Family Law Courts and the Gardai.

Barbara and Anna talk opening and honestly about the ongoing difficulty the mothers they represent have, when it comes to anything to do with Tusla. They describe Tuslas complete incompetence and mismanagement of the children in their care. The increased powers that they have been given as a result of covid and how Government Minsters that have been approached by ABC fail to act on the behalf of these mothers regardless of the mounting evidence gathered.

We also discuss the growing difficulties experienced by women that no longer trust rape crisis and domestic violence centres since they have moved under the umbrella of Tusla and who also provides the majority of their funding.

The women speak about how time and time again they speak to mothers who are suicidal because social workers can come and take their children without their permission. The numerous times that mothers are forced by Tusla to hand over children to a parent that is abusing that child regardless of the evidence of that abuse.  They also speak about the rule of in-camera that silences these mothers and the coercion by social workers that make mothers sign their child into care with the threat that if they do not do this voluntarily the social worker will ensure that these mother will not see their child again until the child turns eighteen and no longer under care from Tusla.

This was a disturbing podcast but one that we feel needs to be heard. Tusla is growing in power and influence and they appear to be unaccountable to anyone. The women firmly believe that just like the scandals of the past involving mother and babies home Tusla’s incompetence and mistreatment of children will cost Ireland dearly as these children will never forgive us for turning a blind eye to what is happening.

Take care

Joyce, June and Paula

Episode 33 - Dr Lisa Cutbert - CEO - Prisoner Aid through Community Effort (PACE)

Trigger Warning' if you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse please remember the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre 24-hour Helpline is open 1800 77 8888

In today’s podcast (episode 33) we will be talking to Lisa Cuthbert, CEO of Prisoner Aid Through Community Effort (PACE).

Lisa has an extensive background in the criminal justice and social care field. As CEO of PACE since 1999, she has overseen the growth and development of PACE as the largest criminal justice not for profit service provider.

PACE was founded in 1969 by volunteers wishing to provide solutions to the problems of men released into homelessness. Lisa believes in working inclusively, with that in mind, PACE widened their supports to provide a three-pronged approach to working with people with convictions for harmful sexual behaviours classified as being – a high risk of re-offending.

The three approaches include (1) the Safer Lives treatment programme, (2) The Foothold Floating Support Service & (3) The Circles of Support & Accountability Programme (which is the first of its kind in Ireland).

Although PACE has a number of other services, our focus was on how they work with sex offenders and if the work they do is successful in terms of recidivism.

Knowing how few victims of sexual crimes receive any form of justice and the difficulty accessing affordable therapeutic services, we are aware that this interview could upset or anger a lot of people. Many victims, quite understandably, may not be happy with offenders receiving any supports at all. However, we believe that if we ever hope to eradicate sexual abuse from all our lives, we simply cannot continue to avoid, (no matter how distasteful it is to us) working with the perpetrators. We need to go to the cause of all this pain and suffering instead of endlessly picking up the pieces after them. The victim should always be the priority in terms of support and services, but it is all in vain if we do lot look this tiger in the eye.

Sexual abuse and the reasons for it are complex. There is no ‘one’ solution, we all must work together and do whatever we can to change our societies current position in terms of the delay in recognition of the magnitude and impact it has on our world.   

Take Care

Joyce, June and Paula 

Episode 32 - Noeline Blackwell - Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC)

Trigger Warning' if you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse please remember the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre 24-hour Helpline is open 1800 77 8888

In today’s podcast (episode 32) we will be talking to Noeline Blackwell, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC).

In 2012 Noleen was reported as being one of Irelands Ten Most Influential Women for her relentless defence of those with no legal resources. Noeline took up her position as CEO of the DRCC in 2016 and feels strongly about the need for victims to be protected and perpetrators held accountable through challenging and ultimately changing societies tolerance of sexual crimes. She believes that the centre’s holistic approach to sexual crimes through not only offering therapeutic services but offering education and awareness programmes is the best way forward to achieve a positive outcome for all of society.

The DRCC works to prevent the harm and heal the trauma of sexual violence by working with men and women who have experienced sexual assault, rape or childhood sexual abuse. Noeline believes that the centre’s holistic approach to sexual crimes through not only offering therapeutic services but offering education and awareness programmes is the best way forward to achieve a positive outcome for all of society.

The centre offers a range of services and education and training programmes, they also provide counselling through the National 24-hour service and advocate on behalf of survivors of sexual violence so they can gain access to law enforcement officials, medical personnel and the courts.

Take care

Joyce, June and Paula

For more details on the services provided by DRCC click on the link https://www.drcc.ie/get-help-and-information/faqs/

Episode 31 - Sophia Murphy - Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Trigger Warning' if you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse please remember the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre 24-hour Helpline is open 1800 77 8888

In today’s podcast (episode 31) we will be talking to Sophia Murphy, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

In July 2018 Sophia’s father, John Murphy, a 61-year-old former member of the Irish Defence Forces received a sentence of 18 years in prison.  Her father plead guilty to the sexual assault and rape of his eldest daughter Sophia from the ages of 3 to 15. He was already serving a 5-year sentence on a previous abuse case when Sophia’s case was heard.

In September 2019 she appeared on ‘The Late Late Show’ with Ryan Turbridy where she spoke about her own experience of abuse and urged other victims to come forward.  In October of the same year Sophia took part in ‘Finné a TG4 documentary series where she shared how she (as one reporter wrote) ‘triumphed over adversity and came to terms with her fathers’ conviction.

This is a powerful interview which some may find extremely triggering but is so worth the listen. Sophia’s courage and bravery of not only facing her demons but speaking openly about them will help so many survivors understand why speaking up can be so hard. It will also help them see, that who they are today does not warrant self-hatred but empathy, forgiveness, and self-love.

Sophia’s candid recollection brings with it a better understanding of the deep shame and guilt survivors have such difficulty letting go of. It will also help victims see how feelings of guilt and shame are gifted to them by their abuser and freedom will come with the understanding that those feelings were never theirs in the first place.

Take Care

Joyce, June and Paula

Episode 30 - Dr Marie Keenan Associate Professor

Dr Marie Keenan – Associate Professor

Lecturer at the School of Social Policy, Social Work & Social Justice,

University of College Dublin

Trigger Warning' if you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse please remember the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre 24-hour Helpline is open 1800 77 8888

In today’s podcast (episode 30) we will be talking to Dr, Marie Keenan, Associate Professor, Lecturer at the School of Social Policy, Social Work & Social Justice, University of College Dublin.

Dr Keenan speaks of how she, along with two other colleagues established the Granada Institute in Dublin in 1995. How they designed and delivered a treatment programme for clergy and laymen who had perpetrated sexual crimes against minors and what parameters they worked within. Marie speaks openly and honestly about the frustration she feels at the government’s inability to put in place appropriate workable solutions in response to sexual crime, including restorative justice going forward. 

Marie is one of the few people in Ireland working in Restorative Justice in relation to perpetrators and victims of sexual abuse. She explains the process involved for those that may be interested in confronting their abusers in a safe environment. She a fierce proponent of using restorative justice in the realms of sexual abuse or sexual violence cases and believes that a restorative approach will provide victims with a sense of justice that the majority of victims may never get going through our deeply flawed justice system.

Dr Keenan’s research credentials both academically and in her professional practice are extensive and impressive. She remains committed to providing workable solutions for victims of sexual crimes both in and out of our justice system and has no intention of stopping any day soon.

Take care

Joyce, June and Paula

For her full bio on Dr Marie Keenan  - click on the link below https://people.ucd.ie/marie.keenan

Poetry - Confusion by June Kavanagh

I have no power I have no say

You can do what you want I can’t run away
What are you’re doing? I don’t understand.
I thought we were playing
Was this part of a plan?

Do all daddies do this?
Am I really that bad?
Can’t you see I don’t want this?
Don’t you care that I’m sad?

You mustn’t know what you are doing
You’re making a mistake.
This couldn’t be on purpose
You wouldn’t make me shake.

Everything is different now
Forever and a day.
No matter what I tell myself
This won’t go away.

I have to give up now
What can I do?
I’m so very little
and I trusted you.

I don’t know what I am now
or how I’m going to be
I don’t think that I’m strong enough
Cause all I’ve got is me.

Poetry - Why Go Back? by June Kavanagh

 

Looking back now
I can hardly believe
It wasn’t just others
But me I deceived

I had to go back
to find me and save me
and rescue me from
all the pain that he gave me

Although it was hard
and it took a long time
The journey was worth it
to find what was mine

Sometimes I can’t believe it
when I see how far I’ve come
No more am I a victim
No longer on the run

I’ve found some inner peace now
I’ve healed a lot of pain
I’m still a work in progress
but no longer need to blame

I never thought I’d say this
I’ve grown to love my life
It’s not without its challenges
But I’m a happy mother, friend, sister and wife

Poetry - Shame by June Kavanagh

Shame took away my Voice
Shame took away my Choice
Shame dictated the life I Lived
Shame would not let me Forgive
 
Shame prevented me from standing strong
and saying what was done was wrong
The shame was never really mine
it belonged to the one who committed the crime
 
Shame doesn’t have a place in my life any longer
and without it I know, I am so much stronger
Now I can see all the harm shame was doing
without it, I am loving the life I am pursuing
 
Your life is just waiting for you to let go
of the shame that you hold cause’ they told you so
Please join our campaign and say ‘Count Me In!’
challenge yourself and together we’ll WIN
 
Don’t let the Shame stop you
from writing your letter
Think of how many lives
in this world could be better!

 

Poetry - My Body Image by June Kavanagh

 

I hated my body for the longest time
because it is what he used
Why did my dad take what was mine?
Leaving me sore and confused

I thought my body had let me down
I blamed it for my pain
The way I looked filled me with disgust
I couldn’t bear the shame!

Sex and sexuality
brought out in me such fear
even if I liked somebody
I couldn’t let them near

Weight was always an issue
I think it’s’ because he was fat
I later used food to comfort me
and ended up looking like that

For me, this was unforgivable
I felt I looked ugly like him
I couldn’t control my eating
I didn’t know where to begin

I didn’t always succeed
But I got better every day
The more I learned to love myself
The weight just fell away

Then one day I decided
I’ll have no more of this
I tried bringing in love from heaven above
determined to find my bliss!

Poetry - Secondary Victims by June Kavanagh

When an abuser is named

what we don’t realise
is all the other people
who now get victimised.

Its only human nature
Whenever we’re in pain
To look outside ourselves
For someone else to blame

Although without intention
this causes untold pain
Countless innocent families
are left with guilt and shame

Guilt by association
is how some families feel
mothers in particular
get the raw end of the deal

It’s assumed they let it happen
it’s believed they must have known
no benefit of doubt
or compassion ever shown

For mothers who are innocent
we must try to understand
How much they need to be believed
and offered a helping hand.

Vilifying mothers
will only make them weak
For improvement what we need is
to encourage them to speak

Because there are no answers
this crime is unexplainable
We gain no understanding
which makes closure unobtainable

The families of abusers
always seem to pay for the crime
the abuser may get a sentence
but the families do the time

It’s time we offered help to all
now we know what’s involved
Innocents are suffering
that must be resolved

This crime leaves many victims
and breaks many hearts
With far too many innocents
whose lives are torn apart

Think on this the next time
you hear a story on the news
There is more involved
than what you see in a story of abuse