The damage inflicted by childhood abuse is lifelong and catastrophic but support services for victims are "grossly inadequate", a royal commission has heard.
Shelly Braieoux??? told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse she still suffers decades after allegedly being abused in a religious organisation.
"Being a survivor of sexual abuse is like being in a lifelong invisible war," she said.
"If the scars of sexual abuse were visual I'm sure I would be in a wheelchair with missing limbs and horribly deformed with burns and scars."
The 45-year-old mother of four has ongoing physical and mental health problems including depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
"Even though we may have physically survived, we have been sentenced to a torturous life sentence full of unnumbered battles," she said.
"The damage is catastrophic. I was robbed of my innocence, my childhood, my adolescence, young adulthood and the years since."
The Mackay law student said survivors should feel fury rather than fear.
"Be angry about your abuse," she said. "We should not be ashamed of what happened to us - it is not our sin."
A 67-year-old man, given the pseudonym AOA, told the inquiry he remained full of anger 54 years after allegedly being abused by a teacher at his Tasmanian school.
"I continue to feel incredible rage towards the institution where I was abused," he said.
"I fear that my anger and the profound sense of injustice that underlies these emotions will shorten my life."
Susan Campbell, whose teenage daughter Eleanore Tibble committed suicide in 2000 after being accused of an affair with an Air Force Cadet instructor, told the commission: "Anger and determination is the only way I have stayed alive and fighting."
The commission is hearing evidence about the impact of childhood abuse on victims and their families.
University of Melbourne and Royal Women's Hospital professor of psychiatry Louise Newman said childhood trauma could have a significant effect on brain development, leaving people at higher risk of developing mental health problems.
Chief executive of advocacy group Blue Knot Foundation, Cathy Kezelman, said an inadequate response to disclosures of abuse magnifies the impact.
"Children often haven't been believed and often they have been punished and brutalised," she said. "We have a very compounded betrayal."
The commission heard mental health support services for complex trauma is lacking.
"The number of sessions afforded under mental health plans is just grossly inadequate," psychologist Margaret Cutajar said.
NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley told the inquiry medical resources were scarce but there were other models of care available to support survivors.
The hearing, before Justice Peter McClellan???, continues.
Blue Knot Helpline 1300 657 380
Lifeline 13 11 14.
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