John Mann MP: Time for a National Institute for Survivors of Child Abuse
Labour MP John Mann writes about his Westminster Hall debate today, on Government support for survivors of child abuse.
Best practice for dealing with survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation can be found in Northern Europe and New Zealand. At its heart is the allocation of sufficient expertise to help those who come forward to deal with the traumas of the past and the present.
There is no one model of support- each survivor is an individual and coping methods vary dramatically. Some were ignored when they complained as young children. Others were punished for raising the issue. Some felt forced to suffer in silence. Some have never spoken about their abuse for decades, suffering in silence, whilst others have drawn huge strength from their survival channelling into work or family or other aspects of life.
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Too many went into the criminal justice system, unbalanced by their abuse, labelled as social delinquents and seen as the problem themselves. Some turned to drink and drugs. Over half the heroin addicts I personally interviewed in 2002 in Bassetlaw had suffered childhood abuse. A few go entirely off the rails, unable to cope and commit horrendous crimes themselves, whilst others leave the country to deliberately begin a new life well away from the scene of crime.
What all have in common is the right to be believed and the right to have a Rolls Royce support now. The demands can be small, one man wanting literacy to overcome a direct consequence of his childhood, whilst others have complex mental health needs. For a lot of those abused, support is too late as their trauma resulted in suicide and some were murdered by their abusers.
Our systems of dealing with the survivors needs to be informed by the group themselves, by definition by those who are the most emboldened and empowered. Their knowledge and experience is a crucial virtually untapped asset. Our systems need to be properly co-ordinated with one designated lead agency supported by all others and with the resources to make an incredibly modest apology and restorative justice contribution to a remarkable group of people who are large and growing in number and whose time for justice has come. This means creating a National Institute for Survivors of Child Abuse.
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