Accolade for the AFP

16 Jun

Australian Federal Police this week busted a paedophile ring, seizing images of child sexual abuse including rape, bondage and torture. Watching the AFP spokesman at the press conference held to announce the seizures, I couldn’t help but wonder, how do they do it?

How do the men and women of the AFP deal with viewing images that are any reasonable person’s worst nightmare, as part of their daily routine?

I’ve experienced a fair bit of secondary post traumatic stress as a consequence of working with adult survivors of child sexual abuse. You have to be able to go there, you don’t flinch, you don’t turn away, you’re the listener who shares the journey. Looking into the dark side takes its toll: it’s powerful, it’s scary, and you underestimate it at your peril.

I’ve never had to look at anything like the horrors the AFP uncover. How do they feel when they go home at night, their minds crowded with images of rape and torture of the young? How do they manage to have any faith in human nature, after seeing first hand what human beings are capable of?

The Internet offers the ideal environment for paedophiles to connect with each other and engage in their vile commerce. Keeping pace with their proliferation must in itself be a challenging task.

Many of us would find it impossible to view images child pornographers disseminate, especially those at the far end of the continuum. Even thinking about what they might look like makes my gut churn in protest. It takes a certain type of courage and a rare kind of determination to commit your working life to bringing these people down.

It isn’t a job that brings them glory, and mostly we never see their faces.

For my money, if anyone deserves the term unsung heroes it’s these women and men. I think we should all honour them for their willingness to descend into the abyss and fight the monsters that dwell down there. If anyone renews my faith in human nature, it’s people who’ll face down the dark side in the interests of us all, and particularly in the interests of the most innocent and the most vulnerable among us.

So this post is dedicated to the men and women of the AFP who take on this battle. I salute you.

18 Responses to “Accolade for the AFP”

  1. Peter June 16, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Well said Jennifer

    On the same theme. When I lived in Canberra in 1999 I lived next door to the AFP Superintendet who was in charge (or deputy in charge) of the many AFP officers then in East Timor.

    After Australia (and US etc) liberated East Timor in 1999 he had to look after and sometimes send home AFP traumatised by the evil done to East Timorese BY the Indonesia militia and by the Indonesian Army. Seeing the thousands of bodies of East Timorese killed and looking after the tens of thousands of survivors raped and tortured proved especially difficult for the AFP because it happened everywhere in East Timor. There was no respite for years.

    All credit to the AFP



  2. Marilyn Shepherd June 16, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    You know those Afghan, Sri Lankan and Iranian kids in Malaysian and Indonesis refugee prisons? Guess who helped to put them there in breach of the refugee convention?

    And who charged dozens of Indonesian kids as adults and has them jailed with rapists?
    Go on Jennifer, just guess.


    • Jennifer Wilson June 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

      I don’t know how to answer that, Marilyn, except I think it’s important to be able to hold the reality of wildly disparate events in the mind at the same time.
      Are you saying that the people who do this work and rescue kids from situations of abuse and torture are not worthy of recognition because those who wear the same uniform do something else that is morally offensive? What are you saying here? I don’t believe in tarring everybody with the same brush in any circumstances.

      I have no idea if the men and women responsible for the outrages you cite are the same men and women who spend their days viewing sickening images in order to do what they can to prevent children being abused. They may belong to the same organization, but that’s rather like saying every priest on the planet sexually abuses children, or every policeman is bent…


      • Marilyn Shepherd June 17, 2011 at 2:16 am #

        Child torture commtted by cops who then find child porn sort of cancels out the good don’t you think?
        The AFP has become a brutal bunch of cowboys who shoot at refugees now for sport and boast about jailing them in brutal places like Malaysia.
        the AFP turned over the Bali 9.
        Ithnk they need to all be sacked.


        • Jennifer Wilson June 17, 2011 at 6:48 am #

          No, I don’t think evil cancels out the good. That’s the thing about the good – it is that because it can’t be cancelled out.

          Some members of the AFP have undoubtedly acted as you describe. Some members of the AFP are in highly trained special units who’s specific purpose is to stop the torture and sexual abuse of children. You will have to prove to me that these people are one and the same before I accept that your argument has any legitimacy.

          I have always been averse to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. At this point there is no other organisation or institution investigating paedophiles. Would you like us to cease these investigations by the AFP and thereby sanction the global abuse and torture of children?


    • Elroy Jetson June 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

      Thanks for your voice Marilyn. You are right. They play politics and that’s it.


  3. paul walter June 16, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    Paedophiles sure provoke a reaction in people. I’m thinking of the Malaysian photo and contemplating the enormity in contradiction as to who should cop that and who does.

    Of course, these are specialised unts of some times tertiary educated “new”police who s expertise, generation and outlookis different to the old time street walloper, let alone monstrosities like J Edgar Hoover and “Bull”Connor, with the Freedom March doco earlier this week.
    As some one picking up the peices after havinghis FB account hacked, am acutely in mind of the reality that there are brighter better young minds about the place, are not so well motivated.
    yeah, ok it probaly isnt someone young, but readersat this level ought to get the drift.


  4. paul walter June 16, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    Actually when I started up my first computer a decade ago, my tech minded mate helping me, considerately left a couple of “blue” sites for my predilection, at length. Of course, you’d have to pay money to subscribe to the feeds, which I didnt do, but they left promos and even some of the stuff I did watch must have a cause of abjection in some of the subjects.
    So I thought, am not sure I want to associated with this and moved on.
    I’ve erotic buttons to be pushed like most others, but not that.
    It was as erotic and mundane as a tram timetable, by my tastes,


  5. Peter June 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    The previous 3 comments appear to be comments on government policy regarding refugees and pornography.

    Parliament and then the Labor government such as the Department of Immigrations, Attorney Generals, Prime Minister and Cabinet and several other Department have the most influence.

    Jennifer’s post is about a particularly difficult area for anyone to handle. I thought that was the point.



  6. paul walter June 17, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    Well, read back your own comment to yourself, Peter.
    As for obscurity you should consider the possibility that your own comments may seem obscure, by others measure.
    The two components you mention are part of the same equation and the resulting signifiance is some times greater than the value of the individual parts decoupled.


  7. Sam Jandwich June 17, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    “Looking into the dark side takes its toll: it’s powerful, it’s scary, and you underestimate it at your peril.”

    Very true. We human beings are adaptive, empathetic creatures. When we see someone suffering at the hands of others, and consider how it is that the world and the individuals involved have allowed this suffering to come about, we No1 feel a tiny percentage of that person’s pain, but I also think that we can’t help but absorb a little of the world view of the person committing the act and we think, there must somewhere be some legitimacy in whatever drove that person to do that. And I think we then need to put some effort into reconciling this with our own world view in order to convince ourselves unequivocally that the other’s is wrong, but at the same time maintain our faith in humanity. And here I think you can imagine that, by having these paedophiles forced to confront their wrongdoing by having all of society come down on them, and by having them punished accordingly, they will question themselves as to how they ever managed to justify doing something like that, and hopefully will realise that, regardless of what their desires or their formative life experiences have been, to do so again would be impossible… though of course the outcomes are always less than perfect. (oh yes and to a lesser extent, the same goes for “infamous polemicists” like Marylin Shepherd)

    But at the same time, that absorption of the an evil world view stays with the people exposed to it, it colours your thinking, it depresses you, and you need to be constantly vigilant against it.

    There is a line which probably came from some biblical source, but which I know from a song by the Sugarcubes (!): “to create a universe, you must first taste the forbidden fruit”. That’s what the AFP are doing in this instance. and I’m behind them all the way.


    • Marilyn Shepherd June 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

      Hands up all those here who were subjected to 6 years of sexual and physical abuse by father, grand father and uncle only to told by the cop that “your dad is a good bloke and I play golf with him” Ditto the headmaster and the priest.

      Paul Walter knows who it was.


      • Jennifer Wilson June 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

        Marilyn, I have to respond to your post as if the person is you.
        If I’m wrong I apologize.
        If I’m right, I see where you’re coming from re the AFP.
        This is a public forum and I don’t want to say anymore.
        I can email you if you want.


  8. paul walter June 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    My long term experience of Marilyn since first “meeting” her online is that she is blunt, honest and remarkably good value for money as to info etc.
    Some times earplugs during a phone conversation, when she’s on her soap box, can help, though!
    Seriously, she comes from a hard school and her experiences being on the wrong end of life when young have engendered a fierce identification and sympathy for and with the subjects of thuggery and misery elsewhere. Like many activists she wears her heart on her sleeve, but in these parsimonious days, is that a bad thing?
    Marilyn is one who knows that while comfy Aussies get their crown jewels in a knot over fashions, footy, or whether they should have put olives on the pizza or not, a world of suffering exists outside of our borders and she has the life experience to just grasp what it really means, unlike may insulated Aussies.


    • Jennifer Wilson June 17, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

      I keep meaning to get a tee shirt made that says “bleeding heart and proud of it”


      • Sam Jandwich June 20, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

        maybe a tattoo would be better *-)


  9. Marilyn Shepherd June 18, 2011 at 12:43 am #

    Today Andrew Chan moved one step closer to being shot thanks to our rotten to the core AFP.


  10. Sam Jandwich June 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Well I do apologise if I’m making assumptions without acknowledging the full context. It is true that I am always trying to tell people how important it is *not* to do that very thing…

    Just last night I managed to get through the last episode of “Outback Kids” – a documentary on the ABC about kids who have been sent to spend time in a kind of therapeutic residential care facility in an undisclosed location in NT, almost as a “last resort” to deal with their behavioural issues. See:

    What made me think of this article of Jennifer’s were the comments made on an interview with the centre’s director Allan Brahminy. The methods he uses are quite unconventional, and in the comments there almost seems to be a split between those who are appalled by the lack of rigour and evidence-base in what he does, and those who applaud him for taking the “extra step” of speaking to the kids’understandings of how difficult and traumatic life can be – since they have all suffered trauma themselves and experienced the “dark side”… which is something that I certainly don’t think research is very good at representing. Did anyone else see this series?


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