AS THE County Court prepares to sentence George Pell today a Bendigo psychologist is urging those overwhelmed by their own painful memories of abuse to seek out help.
Cardinal Pell is expected to be sentenced for child sex abuse offences at 10am, with the court planning to broadcast the high profile case live.
It is likely the sentencing will bring back painful memories, for lots of people, of similar abusive situations, Bendigo psychologist Ivan Honey says. It could also bring a sense of discouragement, disappointment or hopelessness.
He encouraged those who were struggling to seek support from a caring person, preferably a psychologist, or someone else able to listen to their story.
It would be important they seek out someone who would not give out "quick-fix advice", Mr Honey said.
"We know that if there were quick fixes we would not even be talking about this," he said.
Those grappling with heightened emotions or resurfacing memories should also avoid impulsive reactions that could be harmful, Mr Honey said, including alcohol or obsessing over the case.
It was OK for people to feel strong emotions, including anger and depression, he said, though they should not act until they had a clear mind.
"You don't want to be angry for long periods of time because that will make you quite unwell. So be angry, but then move on reasonably quickly if you can."
The sentencing was expected to attract heavy media coverage similar to that seen after a suppression order barring media reports on the case were lifted in late February. Coverage could also continue if Cardinal Pell continued his appeal.
Those struggling with coverage could seek out distractions such as spending time with loved ones or doing the things they liked, Mr Honey said.
Mr Honey said it was particularly important people maintained a sense of normality and centered themselves.
"That’s the best state to be in to work through things,” he said.
While some people might switch off news coverage altogether, others might want to soak up as much information as possible.
"People are going to do it a bit differently (depending on who they are), but I think people will make a choice as to what they personally need to do," Mr Honey said.
"If you need more information to handle this effectively, then do that. If it is not working for you I think it is often wise to switch off a bit more."
Those impacted by abuse were not the only ones who could find themselves struggling with the sentencing.
"I know that there are very strong feelings on both sides. There are some people who believe that Cardinal Pell is not guilty, there are others who believe he is," Mr Honey said.
While coverage of high profile cases involving child abuse or trauma could feel overwhelming, Mr Honey said they could also help increase awareness that controlling, bullying behaviours of any type were harmful and unacceptable.
"I know that many of my clients who have gone through similar things do come out stronger and wiser," he said.
"They become involved in programs and processes designed to make a difference, to make the world a better place."
High profile cases were also a chance for communities to come together and take a stand for what they believed important, Mr Honey said.
"I think that that is particularly the wellbeing of children, and their families," he said.
Hopefully, Mr Honey said, the results of the trial would help pave the way for a more caring, thoughtful society where there was less abuse.
If coverage of Cardinal Pell's sentencing raises issues for you, there is professional help available:
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800respect.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
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