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Exhibition by abuse survivors marks 10 years since Ryan Report

The exhibition, and accompanying report I Am One In Four, uses an approach called photo-voice in which 10 people present their personal testimonies through a combination of narrative and photographs 
Aoife Moore

AN exhibition by survivors of childhood sex abuse has been curated to mark 10 years since the Ryan Report.

The report investigated abuse in institutions for children across the country, the majority of which were reformatory and industrial schools operated by Catholic Church orders and funded and supervised by the Department of Education.

The 2009 report said evidence proved beyond a doubt that children were treated like prison inmates and slaves rather than people with legal rights and human potential.

Victim support charity One in Four will launch the exhibition detailing survivors' experiences of abuse, and the surrounding culture of silence, in Dublin this week.

The exhibition, and accompanying report I Am One In Four, uses an approach called photo-voice in which 10 people present their personal testimonies through a combination of narrative and photographs.

Sociologist Dr Maria Quinlan, who collated the testimonies with visual artist Patrick Bolger, said the exhibition has been curated in a participatory approach.

She said: "Photo-voice is research by people and with people, rather than 'on' people.

"The project highlights most strongly the theme of silence. People's experiences are hidden in plain sight of their families and communities - and they themselves are silenced by shame, stigma and fear.

"The first silence is victims' own silence enforced through grooming, befriending, asserting power and control. There is also internalised guilt, shame and stigma which serves to keep victims' silence."

One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis described the exhibition as both compelling and disturbing, adding: "It will resonate with the one in four Irish people who have been sexually abused and also help to create a better understanding and awareness among those who have not."

The exhibition runs in the days leading up to the 10-year anniversary of the Ryan Report on May 20.

Last week, representatives from the Christine Buckley Centre, a charity which supports abuse survivors, were welcomed to the Aras an Uachtarain by President Michael D Higgins.

During the meeting, the president condemned those who turned a blind eye to the "trauma inflicted on children by the failures of the Irish state", and "distortion of religious ideology" that perpetuated the abuse.

Campaigners are now calling on the state to cover the medical expenses of those who survived abuse at the hands of the state and Catholic church.

The free exhibition opens at the Liffey Corner of the CHQ building, George's Dock, on Monday and runs until Friday. It is open from 9am to 6.30pm.

The case studies and photos can also be viewed at www.oneinfour.ie.

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