Abuse survivor writes of his worries after deciding to give his trust to independent panel

By Joe | 21 January 2015

“You have been gagged and had at least one hand tied behind your backs since the very beginning”

Another survivor of child sex abuse who backs the panel charged with carrying out the overarching inquiry into the issue writes an open letter.

As the panel faces being scrapped, he writes to its members and secretariat to say how he had placed his trust in them after attending two “listening” meetings. Three members were yesterday before MPs on the House of Commons home affairs committee, defending the work of the panel. But he warns that dark forces are working against the panel in its vitally important mission…

Dear panel members and secretariat staff,

Happy New Year. What a torrid few weeks. How are you feeling? Pretty battered and bruised, I suspect. I certainly am.

What a great demand speaking truth to power has made upon you as the panel that is conducting the inquiry into child sex abuse and, indeed, upon us all.

How do you feel about one of your number, Sharon Evans, herself an abuse survivor, having publicly asserted herself in the way that she has? Will you still be able to work alongside her?

Do you feel cowed by the attempts to subvert the inquiry and the threats to sue you if you break ranks, as Sharon has done?

We are more than six months since Theresa May, home secretary, announced the inquiry and it has been mired in chaos. The government has achieved maximum confusion and the erosion of trust for the minimum of effort, ably supported by the regulated media. Thank goodness for Exaro.

So much did I need to make up my own mind about the panel inquiry into the organised, sexual abuse of children that I went to both the Bristol and Manchester “listening meetings” before Christmas, where I was delighted to meet some of you.

As an abusee for whom trust is difficult, you will understand why I needed to meet you face-to-face. At heart, I was deeply encouraged, even though the long grass that I drew in the bottom right-hand corner of the mind maps that I presented at these meetings has only become longer.

Just look at what has happened since the Manchester meeting in the second week of December.

Theresa May and her officials have very effectively pulled the rug from under your – and my – feet in an apparently polite, but oh-so-very English coup. A thin stiletto between the ribs – from Theresa May’s sharp high heels. To quote the fictional Francis Urquhart in ‘House of Cards’ by Michael Dobbs, about a politician with leadership ambitions – not unlike Theresa May, in fact, “You might very well think that, I couldn’t possibly comment.”

How does it feel to have been groomed and then shafted?

Because that is what has effectively happened.

Look at the dynamics involved: perhaps you were flattered by the recognition bestowed upon your professional expertise by someone in a position of power, who then turns their back on you, and threatens to disband you. In my view, what you have been through – and indeed are still going through – closely resembles the dynamics of child abuse in institutional settings.

Given the task that you have been set, I am deeply shocked – but not entirely surprised – by this realisation. But it is worth exploring further, and holding the cynicism at bay.

Why? Because there are so many questions for the inquiry panel to answer.

Why are you so bloody silent, particularly when you are being kicked? You have been gagged and had at least one hand tied behind your backs since the very beginning. I find this infuriating. How do you feel about it?

What can I expect of you now, having given my trust to the inquiry?

How much longer is the panel likely to continue?

How do you personally make sense of Theresa May’s actions?

How do you conduct yourself personally and professionally from this point?

What are your responsibilities to abusees and the survivors of abuse such as me who have attended the consultative meetings, who want to attend the others that you have announced, and those who have already submitted testimonies to the inquiry?

I would like a reply to this letter.

Good luck, as you continue to play with fire in the House of Cards.

Yours,

Joe

Joe (not his real name) is a survivor of child sex abuse.

Related Stories : Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread

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