Victim Blaming – abuse is never your fault.

14 Jun 2015

This weekend the Daily Mail published a story of how former singer and children’s entertainer Rolf Harris has written a letter to a former friend saying how his victims were to blame for his conviction, not his acts. How his victims (one of whom was seven years old when he forced himself on her) feel right now after reading that monster’s bile, must be awful.

In the letter Harris wrote a song that shows his belief that those who he raped and sexually abused only came forward because of the political climate, and were after his money.

I’m writing this blog as a man who never got justice. My old headmaster doesn’t know how I feel after he convinced a 12 year old prefect that he was gay, who then started messing with a 10 year old’s head and body.

I haven’t talked of it in therapy. I let someone know who emotionally abused me right up to her own funeral two months ago. She naturally accused me of ‘inventing it’.

Victim blaming

One of the worst elements of sexual abuse is the term ‘victim blaming’. This occurs when the abuser blames their victim for the actions they have carried out but also when the victim also blames themselves for the abuse they suffered. In Harris case, the seven year old girl he touched up may have felt that she was being ‘too revealing’ in her dress. He’s now calling her a money grabbing ‘woodworm’

I’ve had a look at victim abuse websites on the web and there’s a very good piece that talks to the victim here. It shows one of the reasons for victim blaming – to protect the abuser. The blog suggests, “Self-blame enables survivors to protect abusers, thus attempting to maintain some sort of attachment with important others, which is especially the case when the abusers were family members or significant people who had something to offer in addition to abuse at times”

What this means to the victim is a lifetime of confusion and in many cases complete mental breakdown. Few people walk away unscathed by extreme abuses of this kind, as it affects their very outlook on life. According to the Mail article, one woman Harris interfered with has never worked for a living throughout her adult life – such was the damage he did to her mind.

The aura of celebrity

Harris did very well in that regard. His victims managed to blame themselves for decades, yet finally got the nerve to come forward in the end. The UK entertainment establishment was very good at self protection. You can imagine how his victims felt when Harris got a CBE for his work, and was photographed with the Queen.

It was when the story broke over the king of all entertainer abusers Jimmy Saville, that the silence over major entertainers’ abuses was broken. With Saville busted, so people felt comfortable with reporting other celebrities’ crimes.

This isn’t the ‘compo culture’ that Harris refers to but instead a genuine understanding that no matter who the abuser is or was, they should be held to account for their actions.

What has happened is the public clamour for justice amongst allegations over ‘Establishment cover ups’ and the false starts of the child abuse inquiry, has become ever louder. Where once those you saw on TV or heard on the radio were apparently above justice, this is now changing.

As to the money? My career was wrecked before it began. I had to spend a decade in recovery from serious breakdown. I was within an inch of suicide at one stage. If my headmaster was a multimillionaire would I be after his cash? Honestly, money can’t bring you your life back. Money isn’t a reason anyone would come forward. The only reason is that the fear has been allayed that the police won’t take victims seriously. No one should get away with sexual abuse, and that is the climate that has changed – not ‘compo culture’.

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