Madonna King: After 40 years, Neighbours star Madeleine West has a Christmas gift to cherish

Four decades is a long time to wait for justice to be served. But that’s the gift soapie star Madeleine West is cherishing this Christmas.

West, a former Neighbours star, took to Instagram to identify herself as a child sex victim, and to tell the world that her tormentor would now be jailed.

“Today’s ruling is the best Christmas present we could wish for,’’ she told her followers.

“It took 40 years to be delivered but now it’s here. It’s just a pittance compared to the life sentence served by victims of childhood sexual assault.’’

But it demonstrated that “victim survivors are not alone, it was never our fault, we aren’t broken and that #justice is possible’’.

It’s hard to underestimate the power in that message. A mature woman, who for decades has carried a trauma that no child should carry.

Sex crimes in Australia have reached epidemic proportions, and police say the technology steam train arriving on our personal smart devices will only magnify it. 

It’s not a matter of if, but when, your child will be approached online by someone, claiming to be someone else, according to many experts.

And police do not have the resources or the laws or the political backup to make a dent in a crime that is visiting streets in suburbs across the nation.

Sextortion. It might start with your 12-year-old daughter receiving an online request for friendship from Sally, or Sue or Ava, who also claims to be 12.

Over days or weeks, they talk, before Sally or Sue or Ava – who really is a relentless, awful male paedophile – will ask your daughter to send a naked selfie. Sally – aka the paedophile – might even send a picture, claiming to be a photograph of herself.

And the moment your daughter sends a nude photo, she is ruthlessly blackmailed. More photos, she is told, or that initial one will be uploaded online for her parents and teachers and friends to see. Then a video perhaps.

It’s a spiral that, as a community, we need to turn around.

Boys are victims too, often in greater numbers, although the culprits in those cases are more likely to be after money than intimate imagery.

And every school holidays, the number of cases climb. How many of our young children are being bribed these holidays?

Madeleine West used social media to explain her long drawn-out heartache, saying she hoped her story would encourage other #victims to come forward.

“We are a country obsessed with crime and its prevention, and sexual abuse of children stands alone as the ONLY crime that can NEVER be justified,’’ she said.

And she went to the epicentre of this problem: A crime, she said, with “one of the highest rates of victims, highest rates of reoffending yet lowest rates of conviction’’.

I’m with her. Enough of the pretending this is not happening in all of our suburbs. Those committing the crimes offline are those online. They are not mutually exclusive. 

And they look just like the rest of us. They hold the same jobs, shop in the same supermarkets and more often than not, have families of their own.

Ignorance is no longer an excuse, Madeleine West told her followers in the social media post that gathered thousands of likes in 24 hours.

“It’s happening here. It’s happening now. It’s time to stop.’’

Thank you Madeleine. It’s a deeply personal message every one of us, and perhaps especially our politicians, need to hear.

May your tormentor have many, many years behind bars to contemplate his crimes, and never be granted early release.

And this Christmas, may you find a peace that might have eluded you for decades. 

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