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Napier church fence tied with ribbons to raise awareness of child sexual abuse

NZ Loud Fence Movement

Title: Napier church fence tied with ribbons to raise awareness of child sexual abuse
Author: Shannon Johnstone
Publisher: Hawke’s Bay Today
Date: 26OCT2020

A tide of ribbons will be a permanent fixture on the St Patrick’s Church Napier fence as part of the Loud Fence movement.

The Loud Fence movement began in Australia in 2015, at St Alipius Boys’ School in Ballarat, a site of abuse, and the movement aims to raise awareness of clerical and religious child sexual abuse.

There have been Loud Fence events in New Zealand before but this is the first that has been created by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Aotearoa.

SNAP Aotearoa national leader and abuse survivor Dr Christopher Evan Longhurst said the movement began as a protest but is now “an acknowledgment of the wrongdoing”, a healing process for survivors and an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue to safeguard children for the future.

It is also a non-partisan, non-political and non-religious movement.

Napier is Longhurst’s hometown and he felt it was important to get the support of the local community.

“Hawke’s Bay was the place of horrendous clerical child sexual abuse in the local Catholic community.

“So, this Loud Fence is also an opportunity for them [survivors] to understand that they’re not alone. The shame is not ours and there is only dignity in surviving that kind of abuse.”

It is also a time to remember the survivors who took their own lives, and Longhurst tied a ribbon with the name of a classmate who took his own life.

“We call ourselves survivors because not all of us survived, some of us took our own lives,” Longhurst said.

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