Child sex abuse happens every day, every second!

Every day I read stories of children being abused and violated online. Today as I write this, I am reading about a 7-year old boy who was rescued after being held in some kind of dungeon by Dmitry Kopylov, 28. The news about child sex abuse, never stops. It goes on everywhere all day long. All around the world, this real horror steadily continues unabated. And every time I read an article or open an email I am reminded of ‘my why’- not that I need reminding! When I read any article/email or other my thoughts instantly turn to the victim, the difficult life they now face and the struggles they need to understand, caused by the sick selfishness of others.

The most recent high profile child sex abuse/trafficking cases that hit the news, were of Ghislaine Maxwell and R Kelly. What I found surprising, but not shocked by, was that both media articles led with the abuse that these two paedophiles had endured, regardless of context, as children. Yet again, I found myself angry and frustrated, whilst pondering why their history should be the focal point of the piece. Surely if we focused on the victims of the cases first, understanding the darkness and the complexities of this conversation, we could start navigating these news items more productively and in doing so help to educate and gain support for a conversation that gets little support, care or time by leaders or media.

Whilst I understand the need for news, I do not understand why the leading stories on child sex abuse have little to no consideration for the victims of the cases being shared. In most media articles there is little to no reporting of what the victims will now have to endure as they recover.

It almost feels like the focus and attention on the perpetrator is more important. It’s not. I am sickened by the sensationalising of the media, turning these conversations on their head – effectively inviting their readers to consider that paedophiles were victims also.

Personally, I just cannot fathom why anyone would want to make an already complex situation more complex by showcasing abusers in this way. What about the actual victims of the crime – where is “their news”? Where is any consideration for them? How about shining the light on their pain, darkness, trauma and confusion? The traumatic years that they will have to now face – not the perpetrators.

I appreciate that childhood abuse brings up a lot of difficulties for many people, but for those that go on to abuse others, that I struggle with. As a survivor myself, hurting anyone would feel like the most unnatural thing to be doing. Even during my dark days, when lashing out seemed much easier, it was actually harder. I was hurting myself – but abusing someone – no – that would never cross my mind, and nor did it for the many others I know, who have been sexually abused as children.

Yes, I do believe we can learn a lot from this conversation, but not through sensationalising the perpetrator stories, causing further distress. Of course there is much to learn from perpetrators that were abused as children. An education that promotes an understanding of healthy relationships -what is right, what is wrong, what trust means and how should you trust. Surprisingly few have  this stability and grounding. We need to help children learn what is appropriate and how to deal with inappropriate behaviour – including those who are known and loved. After all, we know that 90% of children being abused are being abused by someone they know. The grooming process is intense, effective and causes life-long trauma.

I’ve seen first hand the ripple effect that the Maxwell and R Kelly case causes around the world, with survivors of child sex abuse. Many survivors struggling and traumered further by such news and the way in which it’s covered.

The media can sometimes be unbearable for survivors of child sexual abuse. It’s an ignorance and sheer lack of understanding that goes hand in hand with no duty of care. Media coverage completely bent on a spotlight on the offender.

We don’t need to know what the biggest regret of Maxwells life is, or about her difficult past. Every survivor has had a difficult past. Every survivor has a difficult future. Every survivor has had to find methods to cope, exist, breathe and live…where’s that media coverage?

Yes, I understand news needs sharing and yes, it’s good that Maxwell has been sentenced for 20 years, but it’s not reflective of the lives she’s ruined, however you want to dress this up – she should never be released, in my opinion. Her story now ripples around the world affecting many others facing their own difficult trauma. It is catastrophic news – so forgive me if I don’t show empathy for a woman who’s ruined lives, and is still causing mayhem, because I am praying for her victims and the many other victims of child sexual abuse around the world struggling today because of this.

I would love to see news stories headlining; “Prayers are being held for Maxwells victims, and the many others affected todays because of this news”. I would make every headline about her victims and the survivors around the world traumatised by darkness, I would have a duty of care. We should have a duty of care.

Whilst the bare facts would be shared of her sentence, I would make the bulk of the story about all of her victims, their loss/ suffering/ trauma/ years of soul searching/ and confusion…because it’s this news that the world needs to hear. The reality and facts that don’t get heard. That’s what I would share. Maybe then we can start normalising these uncomfortable conversations and help change the direction of the taboo topic.

And what about R Kelly! The pop singer who had me, and a lot of others I know, singing along to every song, knowing all of his words, shining our torches at him. As I read his timeline of events, I was sickened to the core to read that allegedly there had been ‘incriminating evidence found’, but because the police didn’t have a search warrant it couldn’t be used. What a slap in the face that was to his victims and the millions of survivors around the world – the innocent children. At what point do governments need to intervene to ensure this evidence is over-ridded, ensuring that no paedophile slips the loop because of technicalities?

Taken from BBC article 

2002-2004: Arrest prompts further charges – Kelly was charged with a further 12 counts of producing child sexual abuse images in Florida, where he was arrested at his holiday home. These charges came after police seized a camera during the arrest, which allegedly contained images of him having sex with an underage girl. The charges were dropped when a judge agreed with Kelly’s defence team that police lacked sufficient evidence to justify a search.

It seems that there are many loop-holes that need tightening on these procedures to save lives, support survivors and create positive support systems for the millions around the world who are suffering in silence.

As I write this, Boris Johnson has resigned. My thoughts on this are simple. How about we now bring in morally correct leaders who lead with ethics & principals and protect, educate and support their most vulnerable citizen. This is a mandatory requirement, regardless of political viewpoint. The world does not benefit from leaders who diminish child sexual abuse, effectively supporting abusers and ignoring the devastation happening around the U.K.

Boris Johnson’s “spaffing money up the wall” comments about re-investigating child sex abuse cases’ which he made on LBC Radio in 2019, 4 months(!) before he became Prime Minister, were unforgivable. The ignorance and implications of those word from a man who moved on to “lead” our country is abominable.

Maybe once we gain morally and ethically correct leaders, we will find new ways to support victims of child sex abuse, education systems, and safe-guarding measures.

Perhaps if we started over with leaders who have a more inherently logical, ethical sense of duty; who understand the “weight” of their words, then people generally can adjust with their understanding of child abuse survivors. And if the people understand, then of course media demand is influenced and evolves. No more sensationalising of perpetrators, because quite frankly it’s this showbiz focus that the ‘fallen stars’ are given, that magnifies the problems.

Everyone’s thoughts and interest should be every survivor of child sexual abuse. Today, tomorrow and forever.