Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Was William Roche right to criticise the victims of abuse?

William Roache apologises for his remarks.
If you have not seen the headlines, William Roache (Ken in Coronation Street) has been slammed for making insenstive remarks to a New Zealand TV interviewer about the victims of abuser celebrities. He more or less said that young girls are drawn to celebrities, and then complain of abuse when it all goes wrong.

He is no doubt influenced by the pending prosecution of  Michael Le Vell from Coronation Street who faces 19 charges of abusing young girls and is facing trial at Preston Court, or Stuart Hall, or indeed Andrew Lancel who played Frank Foster in Corrie

He said ""Paedophilia is absolutely horrendous. Paedophiles should be sought out, rooted out and dealt with.

But there's a fringe of people who, particularly pop singers, they have these groupies, these girls, who come, they're sexually active, sexually mature, they don't ask for their birth certificate, they don't know what age they may be.

But they're certainly not grooming them and exploiting them, but they can be caught in this trap.

These people are instantly stigmatised, some will be innocent, some will not, but until such time as it's proven there should be anonymity for both."

Roache has since apologised deeply for his remarks after the child abuse charities rightfully blasted him for his remarks which suggested that victims "brought these thing on themselves".

It is not surprising that abuse has remained a secret for so many years. It is very common. It is much easier to believe that someone whom you know and like - most paedophiles are likable, as otherwise they would not be able to get close to children - is innocent rather than guilty. Whether or not those charged are innocent or guilty, is of course a matter for the courts not the media.

Generally speaking, however the problem in the country has not been the profundity of allegations, but the suppression of allegations by those in a position of power, until the victim has the courage to speak out many years later.

We must encourage those who have been abused to speak out, not silence them with suggestions that they are to blame. Generally speaking, what causes the most damage in a victim of abuse is not the abuse itself, which indeed is manifestly harmful, but the guilt surrounding the crime, and the thought that they are to blame.

Most victims think that they must have encouraged the crime by the way they were as a child, or the way they behaved, which of course cannot be true, particularly where there is a huge age difference, and the abuser is in a position of trust.

Should there by anonymity for the abuser like the victim? I don't believe so. If the abuser's name is broadcast, it often provokes other complaints against the same person, as paedophiles rarely operate in isolation. Usually they have been caught doing something that has been repeated on many occasions in the past, but never been discovered.

As an abuse lawyer I know NAPAC personally, and agree with what they say. This comment is an insult to the victims of abuse, and should be the subject of an apology. It is welcome to hear Roache apologise for what he said, and rightfully so.

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