This is our truth, tell us yours
Content Note for mention of child abuse
The decision not to prosecute Lord Janner has left a lot of people feeling that there truly is one rule for them. and one rule for us. It does not help that unlike some recent trials this was not a case that appeared from nowhere. There had been a number of police investigations, the CPS are quoted in the Guardian as saying
The CPS said: “In relation to the other three previous investigations, the CPS also now considers that the evidential test was passed.“It follows that mistakes were made in the decision-making at the time by both the Leicestershire police in 2002 and the CPS in 1991 and 2007.
Of course, as in Oxford, Rochdale, Rotherham these were kids no one cared about, which seems to be the very definition of kids in care. Men who wished to abuse young boys knew that care homes provided the means, and opportunity. As Carter discussed previously too often these most vulnerable children knew, and know, no other form of attention. Sometimes a kiss with a fist is better than none.
However having your day in court does not always take away the pain. Its something those who talk about victims rights dont like to say, but there is no magic wand. For some people it may bring closure, that most nebulous of terms, but closure happens more in hollywood than real life. I am not just talking theoretically here. I am a survivor of child sexual abuse. When my abuser was dying I had to consider whether I wanted to go the court route. I knew that the time to decide was running out, and if I wished my story to contain official sanction, retribution and punishment, then I needed to take action.
I decided that he had taken up too much of my time, life, emotions already. On the day of his funeral I went to my favourite Chinese noodle restaurant, and treated myself to onion pancakes and nui ro mien. I had not found closure, I had found a way to be that allowed my past to be just that, my past. To do so of course I had one huge advantage. I had been listened too, and believed. I did not need the courts to prove I was not a liar, the people close to me had said those vital words “I believe you.”
For the victims here the opposite happened,in 2002, 2000, and 1997 those with power and authority said, we dont believe you, you are liars. One of the features of child abuse is that you blame yourself, you believe that there must be something wrong with you, that somehow what happened was your fault. Often abusers know this, and explicitly tell you that what happens is caused by your moral failings, too bad, too slutty, too provocative. They cause you to doubt yourself and your own mind. In such a world being called a liar becomes easy to internalize. No wonder then that so many survivors need the external validation of being believed, especially by those in authority.
Justice is supposedly blind, in this case it needs to be wise and far sighted. The conventional form justice takes, a trial with all its claims and counterclaims is actually a very poor place for victims to receive that much needed external validation. Even when it is decided they were telling the truth our adversarial system isnt about resolution, or helping the victims find closure, but which side tells the best story.
Given this the victims here may have been over optimistic hoping a trial would heal their wounds. However this does not mean we can ignore how they have been failed over and over again, We need, I believe, a full public inquiry into the police and CPS failures, the collusion with those in power or authority, and at the center of that enquiry must be the voices of the victims. Not the fudged inquiry that theresa May has done everything possible to kick into the long grass, but a process which has at its heart the fact we allowed people to abuse children because they were the wrong sort of kids, expendable and ignored.