Institutional abuse- beware, it is where you least expect it!

Institutional Abuse- beware, it is where you least expect it!

The subject of Institutional Abuse is constantly in and out of the news these days. My blog has in fact been inspired by a Facebook post I read today. I will have to keep the detail deliberately vague as regards its source.

The post was from a mature married couple who hold regular conventions. These conventions are for a fairly niche hobby that involves creating and living in a kind of fantasy/sci-fi world, and fans of this sort of thing go to a lot of trouble to dress up for the conventions.

It’s what I suppose you would call ‘geeky’. It’s popular though and I think it’s safe to say that to a small degree it attracts people who can be quite introverted in real life, and who enjoy the chance to ‘inhabit’ a fantasy life for a few days. Some of the costumes can be a little racy or daring. But it is assumed that when you are amongst fellow enthusiasts, you are safe.

Not so.

This couple have reluctantly withdrawn from the convention scene because of incidents of sexual abuse and worse. Unfortunately where you have vulnerable people you also have predators. Now I MUST emphasise that incidents are RARE, but it has caused them enough concern to give up their lifetime hobby.

The reality is, where you have ANY organisation where ANYBODY has power and there are vulnerable people, the chance of abuse is built into the system. I emphasise again that these incidents are RARE, but they are tragic and serious when they happen. Institutional abuse is real.

Some people, me included, think that Health and Safety is interfering in our lives too much. But where the potential for harm is serious and life changing or life threatening, it must be taken seriously. Having a company statement about personal safety is not enough. All organisations must work on the assumption that abuse is likely and must act accordingly. The culture must start at the top and go through the organisation. Any transgressions must be investigated properly and the guilty publicly removed and if necessary reported to the police.

What you may not appreciate is that the damage done by sexual abuse can last a lifetime. It can kill you, eventually, through your over use of drugs or alcohol, or lack of exercise, or risk taking (to name but a few) and all of these can be your reaction from a traumatic event long ago.

As a race, we believe that we have evolved beyond this. Surely the constant flow of abuse stories in the news tells us this isn’t so. It doesn’t mean you should wrap yourself or your kids in cotton wool, it does mean though that you need to take care, look into events like conventions, ask the organisers difficult questions, you may be glad you did.

If this article concerns you or has raised issue you would like to talk through, then please get in touch. You will find me sympathetic, understanding and very focused on helping you move on.

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