Sexual Abuse: Predators and the Vulnerable

28 Nov 2017

It seems at the moment not a day passes without an allegation of sexual misconduct being made by against another person. Many of these allegations relate to alleged misconduct going back many years. The reason that nothing has been said before about the misconduct is often due to fear; guilt, embarrassment and sometimes intimidation.

Since the stories broke about the film producer Harvey Weinstein numerous men and women have come forward with similar claims against other famous people in the public eye, such as Steven Seagal; Ed Westwick; Kevin Spacey; Ed Westwick; Brett Ratner; James Toback: Louis CK; Roy Price and Adam Venit. However, the list of names of alleged predators probably does not stop there.  Comments such as “Weinstein was sleazy”, “I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein” remind us of Jimmy Savile the prolific abuser who had free rein to abuse, it is said up to 1,000 victims under the noses of organisations such as the BBC and Stoke Mandeville hospital for more than 40 years.  The worst of it is that many people interviewed about Savile, people who knew him, worked with him and spent periods of time with him said “Oh yes, we all knew about him.”

Then why is it that when victims come forward to disclose what has happened to them they are made to tell their story over and over again. If others got wind that something was going on, why is the victim forced to re live the experience. It is accepted that to seek any redress in the criminal courts the victim will usually have to give evidence, be cross examined to the hilt on what happened and often made to face the perpetrator of the abuse.  One common thread in cross examination is why has it taken so long for you to come forward? So as to place doubt in the court’s mind that the actual event took place.

It takes courage to come forward and report abuse. To say that another person took advantage of you; sexually abused you can place the victim at a disadvantage. They often risk being ostracised by friends; family; colleagues and potential employers. If you are in the film industry, there is a risk that you will not be in line for projects that would have been easily accessible had you not spoke out.

Family members often turn against victims of abuse. Some never accept the abuse took place; others are in denial in respect of allegations of abuse against another family member, even if that family member is found guilty of the sexual abuse in the criminal courts, abuse fractures families.  Victims are often seen as troubled or tarnished individuals.  If a person is sexually abused by another it is usually the victim who feels shame.

However, in respect of the Weinstein accusers a domino affect has been created. The same can be said in respect of the allegations against Kevin Spacey. Men and women are now coming forward with allegations; they feel safe doing so in the comfort that others have come forward and have been believed. What is alarming is that it takes dozens of people to come forward before any action is taken.  Allegations against Bill Cosby had been public but ignored since 2005.  It is therefore, no surprise why victims hold off saying something, when allegations are brushed under the carpet.

Sexual abuse can affect anyone. It is not something that happens to someone because of their class or status in society. It happens because the victim is vulnerable, albeit a young actor, a child in the care system, a vulnerable child of a family.

Vulnerability allows a manipulative predator to take advantage. To have the power and control over another person and to prevent them from disclosing what has happened. Abuse is just what it is, abuse and it happens when corrupt, powerful people use their influence and control to abuse and manipulate others.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual abuse, please do not hesitate to contact Partner and specialist child abuse lawyer Stephanie Prior on 020 7681 8671.

Share this article