This is not fiction

Yesterday yet another friend told me she had been abused. It happened when she was in her teens and the abuser was a doctor who was ‘examining’ her in a way that was screamingly inappropriate, while she was seriously injured.

This brings the total to seven.

Seven of my precious friends were sexually abused when young and vulnerable and have had to struggle with the consequences. These include loss of confidence, difficulties with relationships and with sex, constant physical pain, distrust of men in general (in all the cases I know about, the abusers were men though the victims were men and women) and a warped sense of themselves as somehow at fault. Guilty. Bad. Only one ever told an adult at the time. She was told to shut up.

The BBC has serious questions to answer over its continued employment of Jimmy Saville. And over its Newsnight reporting on the North Wales care homes story. But the focus is swiftly and conveniently being shifted from those whose lives have been wrecked by secret abuse – facilitated in many cases by powerful people – and onto George Entwhistle’s pay-off and the potential sacrifice of all that is good about the BBC.

This is exactly what the abusers want to happen.

If I had been abused, how would I feel just now? I might have been on the verge of speaking up. Not any more. Watching witnesses exposed, discredited and then overlooked – why would you?

But this issue must not be allowed to slide out of view. The abusers I know about are (or were) a grandfather; a father; a brother; two doctors; two public school teachers. It’s so awful I wish I had made it up. But it is true.

For the victims’ sake we can’t just switch channels. It’s easier to be opinionated about the BBC. To moan about the licence fee. About someone else’s salary. Of course we should question these things. But as well as. Not instead of.

These are other people’s stories, not mine. And there are obvious issues of privacy. But the very least we can do is shout the numbers out loud.

Seven friends. S E V E N.

How many of yours?

One thought on “This is not fiction

  1. Powerful, Alison. Seven friends – that’s tragic. So far, I don’t know of any – but this is not something that easy to talk about, which is why, as you say, we need to talk about those who have managed to speak out and not discredit them.

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