Historic sex abuse: some questions answered.
Historic sex abuse seems to be in the news a lot these days. To the extent that people seem to be asking questions such as:
‘Why not complain at the time? Or a bit later? Are these accusations real or just a way of selling a story?’
‘Things were different years ago, weren’t they?’
All sorts of emotions and worries go through the head of a sex abuse victim and it is these that delay action. Such as:
‘Am I over-reacting? After all, it was normal then, why am I still upset?’
‘It must be something wrong with me, perhaps I asked for it somehow, perhaps I agreed to it. I feel so guilty that I did nothing.’
‘The person involved has a loving family who will be destroyed by this accusation, why should I inflict this pain on them, they are innocent.’
‘It’s my fault if I haven’t been able to get over this by now. I’m weak, I’m feeble, I don’t have any emotional strength.’
‘When I stand up in court I will be all alone, faced by his hostile barrister, his hostile family and all the establishment will close ranks against me to protect him.’
‘My own family and friends will see me differently now, they will think that I am weak, that I am a victim.’
‘If the court case fails, everyone will think I am a liar.’
‘I will get death threats and be bullied and attacked.’
‘I will have to relive all the events in court, in front of strangers. They will ask detailed questions, they will ask why I didn’t say no, why I have waited so long to do anything about it.’
‘It was years ago, I can remember the key events but my memory is hazy about other things and this will be seized upon by his lawyers as a sign that I am not telling the truth.’
‘Even if he is convicted, there is no guarantee I will feel better, no guarantee that I will achieve resolution.’
MAKE NO MISTAKE. To stand up and make an accusation of historic sex abuse is very difficult. It takes real bravery and a willingness to expose yourself to a world which can be both sympathetic and hostile. It is a frightening choice, and nothing to do with self-publicity or making money.
Let me tell you, victims of sex abuse carry the pain and scars for years, it is like a slow poison of the mind. The lucky ones can make a breakthrough and recover. Not all victims are lucky.
If this blog raises issues for you, here is the NSPCC link: