Victim says he felt ashamed about being abused as a child

PUBLIC awareness of child sexual abuse has transformed in the years since Robbie Gambley saw the man who abused him as a Bonalbo schoolkid brought before a court and convicted.

The Royal Commission into Child Abuse began in 2012 and since then the harrowing stories of thousands of victims have been heard in public.

The hope is that healing might now be possible.

>>Today is Blue Knot Day, the national awareness day for adult survivors of child abuse

"It's brought it into the public eye more," said Mr Gambley, who admitted he felt ashamed when he first came forward in 2006.

"When I first went to the police I was so terrified. I thought people would spit at me in the street, I was so ashamed of myself," he said.

"Now people come up and give me a hug, put their hands on my shoulder; that just means the world to me.

STRONG: Robert Gambley
STRONG: Robert Gambley The Northern Star

"It's just changed my life completely."

Deeply moved by the experience of facing his own trauma, Mr Gambley has become a beacon for other victims of child abuse who have yet to come forward.

Mr Gambley said despite the publicity surrounding the Royal Commission, thousands of stories remain hidden.

"People are still reluctant to deal with it," he said.

"The statistics are that one in three women have been sexually abused or assaulted in their childhood.

"They did put the percentage for men at about one in five, but men notoriously will not come forward (so) they think it's about equal with women now."

One man who Mr Gambley knew when they were children in Bonalbo turned up to a victims workshop in Lismore.

"I burst into tears when I saw him, and he burst into tears," Mr Gambley said.

Mr Gambley said while it was a big step to attend the workshop, the man had never told his wife that he had been abused as a child.

"I just want him to get help and get well, especially with his wife to have some peace and to have a complete and wholesome relationship," Mr Gambley said.

Each year around Blue Knot week Mr Gambley hosts a service in Casino to bring together survivors of child abuse and their families.

This year, the service will be held at Saint Mark's Anglican Church on Sunday, November 16 from 9am.

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