Sometimes, it's just a cigar

This is our truth, tell us yours

A history of silence

content note for discussion of child sexual abuse.

Several years ago I received a phone call I had been dreading, my uncle, the man who sexually abused me from the age of three was dying. His death did not concern me, whilst I felt no joy in his suffering the knowledge I would never have to endure his presence at another family event was a comfort. My problem was I was forced to confront a decision I was not ready for. Did I want my day in court? Did I want to report my uncle for what he had done, and did I want to deal with the fallout from “coming out” to my family as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse?

There was a tension within me between not wanting him to “get away with it” and not wanting myself to go through all that a court case might involve. His death would remove any chance for me to receive that formal acknowledgement of state and society that what had happened to me was wrong, and had caused me harm. Beyond even that though, it removed my chance to confront him, to tell him what he had done was wrong. To say the “No” denied my for so many years.

The day of his funeral I took myself to a favourite restaurant and as I ate onion cakes and spicy beef noodles toasted myself. I had survived, I had survived him, and whilst I had decided, in the end, not to confront him, I was here, and he was not.

The decision to disclose, on whatever level, is a huge one for survivors. The governments own data shows that only 15% of those over 16 report a serious sexual assault. I dont want to get into a huge stats debate, but it is clear victims do not report, and whilst it is not a victims responsibility to prevent further offending, the fact they do not should worry everyone even if they have no compassion for survivors.

I chose not to report knowing I had to live with that, and knowing I could. Seeing how the establishment and media have pilloried Tom Watson for listening to survivors when they spoke to him, I am even more glad I kept silent. Over the past 24 hours the narrative has changed from “survivors of child abuse” to “alleged survivors of child abuse”. A decision not to prosecute on lack of evidence (and in historic cases what evidence can there ever be but the word of the survivor) has been used to suggest the victim way lying. The media enraged by Leveson is so determined to find ways to attack Tom Watson that survivors of child abuse and rape are being used as cannon fodder. The BBC has led the attack, with a Panorama program that basically called all survivors of child abuse liars unless they report as children.

I am at peace knowing my abuser can never be prosecuted, but I am writing now for all those abused as children who want to have their day in court. Every journalist calling for Tom watson to apologise is speaking directly to survivors, and saying, remain silent, you will never be believed, your pain, your suffering does not matter. As a country we came close to accepting the epidemic which is child sexual abuse, but now those with power have closed ranks. Listening to survivors is seen as the real crime, while the rape of children is put in the box marked “not proven.”

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10 comments on “A history of silence

  1. Allison Granted
    October 13, 2015

    Thank you for sharing this. I cannot imagine how hard this was to write, let alone endure. I’m glad you were able to make a choice that worked best for you. We truly need more protections for survivors so that survivors of all kinds of abuse don’t have to suffer.

    You are wonderful and I believe you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jemima2013
      October 13, 2015

      thank you, I just fear we are going backwards, where someones fame protects them, we have been here before and its not a good place to be

      Like

  2. breakingsarah
    October 13, 2015

    Thank you for this post! I hope those who can still get justice see this. It was too late to prosecute by the time I was ready to. I am at peace with that now mostly but I worry about others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jemima2013
      October 13, 2015

      Thats my concern too, I am also at peace with the choices i made, but there are people out there now, hearing powerful people say that it is wrong to believe survivors, thats a very worrying message to send.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. callie
    October 17, 2015

    I’m sorry but some survivors do bear some responsibility in this mess. They chose to believe and promote the ‘experiences’ of people who have a weak grasp on reality. The most fantastic stories grab all the headlines, but when debunked the fall out is not on those who made the allegations but on everyone else, those who experienced more humdrum horrible abuse and who are now less likely to be believed.
    Again.
    Survivors have been ill-served by the media outfits who feasted on salacious tales and then turned on them with the tide.

    Like

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  6. rare deeds
    November 4, 2015

    This is such a moving post. I’m so sorry that you ever had to write it – but so admiring of you for having done so

    Long may you continue to be able to say: “I am at peace”.

    Like

    • jemima2013
      November 5, 2015

      thank you for suc a lovely comment, writing is something that helps me find that peace

      Like

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This entry was posted on October 13, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .

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