Friday, 17 September 2010

Why didn't victims approach the police before?

One commenter on Outside the Safeguarding meeting has asked the following.
I have to say that I find some of the comments posted here - utterly bizarre. If the anonymous above have had such a bad time at st benedict's, why didn't they go to the police about their experiences with Father David? He was sentenced on 5 separate counts yet there were many more boys who were abused by him. Without the statements from those affected the police were unable to take any further action. It is not just the Abbey who are to blame here - so too are the many ex pupils and parents who knew and yet did nothing. Going to the Abbot to complain is not enough. It was a criminal offence and so they should have gone straight to the police with their child.
If you genuinely wish to understand why victims often don't come forward for years or even decades, and are prepared to spend 90 minutes doing so, then I recommend that you watch the documentary Chosen. It is available online at the link I've provided. Or if you don't have 90 minutes, read the review in the Guardian or The Times or The Independent instead.

In the documentary, three victims of child sex abuse at Caldicott School, all now in middle age, describe their experiences, how they were groomed and then abused, and how they were made to feel complicit, and how at one point one of them even denied there was anything going on when directly asked about it. And they describe the devastating effect it has had on their adult lives.

I have seen the entire film, and I also attended Pearce's sentencing hearing and so heard the recitation of the offences by the prosecuting barrister. As a result I can tell tell you that there is a great similarity between the grooming techniques used by Pearce and those used by the abusers at Caldicott, so if you watch Chosen, you will understand some of what has been going on at St. Benedict's and why it is so hard for the victims to come forward. You can be quite certain that there are a very great many victims of Pearce and others at St. Benedict's who have not yet summoned the courage to tell anybody about it.

If your child is groomed and then abused in  this fashion, then it is quite likely that he or she may never tell you about it. It is not uncommon for victims to feel unable to speak out until their parents are dead, because they cannot bear to cause the additional distress involved in confronting their parents with the fact that they have failed in a most basic and catastrophic way to protect their child.

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