The abuses of the Sisters of Nazareth were widespread, and certainly not contained within Northern Ireland. So too the abuses of the Sisters of Mercy and indeed the Magdalenes and who knows how many other extreme religious Orders. Indeed, with no sense of irony the Sisters of Mercy would often remind we inmates, how fortunate we were to be in their care and not in the care of their more deranged Sisters, the Carmelites.
Eventually, those dealing with the thousands of cases that will pour in, will have to acknowledge that there is a common theme. ANY care institution will attract sadistic psychopaths, who will strive to achieve their sense of law, order and control, particularly within an environment that is ruled by obedience and humility and is closed off to the outside world. Religious institutions are run by people with a fanatical belief in an unseen entity who's goal in life is to force others join in with their insanity. Theirs is the right way (society approves) and everyone agrees non conformists should be punished until they fall into line. Its not permissible to do this prisons, but its perfectly acceptable with children. Psychopaths are in fact the ideal choice to raise an army of model citizens who will obey the law without question.
Psychopaths are all around us, and contrary to popular opinion they are rarely gibbering maniacs wielding pickaxes, the majority of them are functioning, and indeed 'contributing' members of society. A high percentage of them reach and hold onto positions of great power, it's their psychopathy that got them thus far. They are appreciated, nay, valued, in the workplace, they keep the cogs of the psychopath above them (in the food chain) running.
Most however, feel undervalued (they are intrinsically narcissistic) and the only way in which to prove their worth is step on the heads of those beneath them, both metaphorically and physically. The 'failures' among them are particularly drawn to the care industry where they will have power and be able to vent their rage, against vulnerable people. It is not restricted to children or even to institutions, these bullies exist throughout society you will find them in every workplace and on every street.
Society does not have the will to get rid of these monsters among us, and it is even questionable whether they it should, they get things done and they are easy to manipulate. They have no morals or scruples, and they certainly don't have empathy. They do the murky stuff, things that the rest of us don't wan't to do, or even peek at, they clean up the mess and they maintain law and order. Society needs them, we just don't want to acknowledge they exist. As the divine Jack Nicholson said, way better than I, we can't handle the truth, and in the face of it, most of us assume the ostrich position.
The whole area of psychopathy and what we should do about the psychopaths among us, is a whole new area of debate, there are fors and there are againsts, but as a compassionate society, we should at least make some attempt to ensure they don't look after our grandmothers, or indeed ourselves as our years of whooping it up take their toll. But that debate is for another day.
I would stress however, that psychopathy that is allowed to run unchecked and unrestrained, and even encouraged, as happened in the convents for decades, will lead to unspeakable abuse. In the 1960's and the 1970's they invited lay people, people not of the cloth, but also religious fanatics, to come join them with the childcare - the floodgates were opened. The 60's, 70's and indeed 80's were, imo, the worst for the abuses, at that time they were bringing in new psychopaths with new ideas (forms of torture) to a bunch of bored women who knew nothing whatsoever about the outside world. Like attracts like, and psychopaths working together are especially effective.
Whilst it is said that 10% of the population are psychopaths, if you began to look into the percentage in extreme religious Orders, it would probably rocket, (I intend to do a study one day). Religion is all about control. In areas where it steps into illegality with rape, GBH, sexual, physical and mental abuse, then it should be subject to the Laws of the land that prevails, it should not have group immunity based on the assumption that those who hold strong religious beliefs are good people. Those who hold extremist religious beliefs that they want to inflict on others are downright dangerous, they just won't take no for an answer.
But lets get back to the historic abuse. Even in the 1960's/1970's, the punishments meted out to the children placed in the care of psychopaths was against the Law. Prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs were better protected. That the local Authorities were paying these institutions vast sums of public money without ensuring we at least received our basic human rights, was criminally negligent. Those who employed said psychopaths, the Roman Catholic Church and the other institutions were paid handsomely to provide us with a safe, secure and humane environment, they failed spectacularly. I would like to say that they were neglectful. They weren't. They were doing what they set out to do and were probably instructed to do. They were 'reforming' the Godless children placed in their care, and preparing them to be good, obedient, citizens, who knew their station (humble) in life and who would never question authority.
That these systems of punishments, humiliation control and indoctrination often had the opposite effect, a hatred and distrust of authority, mattered not, it was all about 'the fun times' they had doing it. Give me the child until he hits puberty and I will give you the (naked), obedient slave, who will suck you off and wash the dishes. Most of the 'reformed' kids went wild after release. How long these (and even lesser) abuses went on for, can probably be traced back through history, as a 14 year old, locked in my room and not allowed to go to the ball, I knew exactly how Jane Eyre felt in the 19th century. There will always be people in life who get a kick out of punishing and reforming others.
No-one is allowed to question the ideology of the Roman Catholic Church, or indeed any other religion, it is a taboo subject, a no go area. That they are performing 'good deeds' is taken as a given, historically, the clergy, and regular church attendees are assumed to be good, because they have foregone life's pleasures in order to devote their entire lives to a God the rest of us can't see. That their ideology is based on a 2000 year old book of rules that most of us can't be arsed to read , one that advocates the burning in hell forevermore of the little boy and the thousands of others who can't see the Emperor's new clothes, matters not, the kids will be safe in their hands.
Most clergy do not need CRB checks, they are swept through the corridors of power the world over without question. They advise governments and they steer the flock. Their 'cloth' commands respect and gives them immunity. It has protected them throughout history, and it protects them now. The public are sick of these historic abuse cases and the horrible criticism of these humble, devoted nuns who gave up everything to look after the brats. They see the sacrifice and the vows of poverty and humility, not how wrong it is for this religion to beat into those who fall within its clutches that suffering and poverty is worthy and noble and a desire for pleasure and cash is dirty and evil. Religion isn't about empowerment, it is about handing your inner power over to someone else (God's reps on earth) and asking them make your decisions for you.
It is not just individuals who hand their power over to a higher being, although the UK is supposed to be run on secular lines, the governing bodies put their faith in the Church. In the 1960's and the 1970's (and for centuries before), the authorities trusted the Church to take care of its orphans and homeless children, it was assumed, without checking, that we would be safe and well cared for. How they went about our day to day care was entirely up to them, they put us in places of safety, boxes ticked. They were criminally negligent. If they had handed us over to another other cult group, the Moonies, or a group of devil worshippers, eyebrows may have been raised, but even non believers know better than to question the Catholic Church.
The only fair and compassionate way to deal with ALL these cases of historic abuse, is for the Authorities to acknowledge their negligence in placing us in these institutions without ensuring that we were being cared for humanely. And they must pay, in the same way that other negligent, fraudulent, companies and corporations do. Financially. The bulk of the compensation however, should come from the Roman Catholic Church. The took the public's, and in many cases, our parents' money, and it became part of their mountainous coffers under the Vatican and guarded by Ebenezers. Those who committed the crimes should face a jury of their peers, and those who profited from those crimes (the answer to every question is money) should be made to repay the cash, and then some.
As for those spitting the words 'compo' with contempt and disdain, suggesting a central pot for the middle class professionals to dip into under the guise of helping the victims, you can go and boil your noble heads. The ONLY cure for survivors, or indeed for anyone who suffers from any form of depression, is self empowerment. No-one can 'make you better', the only person who can do that is yourself. Survivors were robbed of their inner power as children, and they are being robbed still. If they receive cash awards, which is what this is all about, though most are too coy to say, then what they do with it should be entirely up to them. Are millionaire libel victors given provisos that state they must spend their cash awards on therapy for their hurt feelings? Away with your faux morality, if a survivor wants to spend a month on cocaine, a year in a Buddhist monastary, or buy a little yellow noddy car, that should be entirely up to them. Empowerment is about choice.
From an economic perspective, it would be cheaper for the local authorities and the Church, to admit liability and negotiate settlement on a 'class action' scale. Every case they fight on an individual basis costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, and as more and more cases come forward, the evidence that the abuse occurred becomes overwhelming. They can no longer deny it and fighting each case will cost them billions.
As long as each case has to be proved on an individual basis, the historic abuse enquiry will drag on for decades. And there is NO BENEFIT to the survivors in all this. Dragging up horrors from the past, doesn't empower you, it destroys you. I know this because I have done it, I've worn the t-shirt and I've written the book! I also have no qualms in owning up, when I am wrong. And the way in which I approached all this, was very wrong, it almost killed me.
Each and every survivor who embarks on a journey of revenge should take the advice of Confucius, 'Dig two graves'. The entire system is geared towards disproving the abuse ever took place and measuring (psychologically) 'just how damaged' you are. Obviously, the more damaged you are, the higher the award will be, ergo, consciously, or subconsciously, that is what you will aim for.
As the Inquiry stands, each survivor will have to relive the horrors that traumatised them in order to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were abused. They (and their families- the Defence will dig up everything) are put on trial, NOT the abusers. The psychological tests and evaluations are not intended to assist the survivor in any way, they end with recommendations that will never be followed up, because neither the cash, nor the will exists, to pursue them. Survivors are, quite literally, abandoned at the door of the Court. Several go on to commit suicide.
Sadly, this is a situation that won't change anytime soon, because the Authorities hold all the cards, they dictate the dominant ideology (priests, nuns etc are good, survivors are low life scum) and the public buys it. It allows them to get away with blatant lies, eg. the Sisters of Mercy committed abuses in Eire, but not in the UK, or indeed anywhere else.
Most survivors are too wrapped up in their own woes and needs, to even contemplate the bigger picture. They see only the abuse they suffered and how it affected them, they focus on the negative, not the positive, not the ways in which to move on. And I can say that in complete honesty, because I was too. We accept our role as a victim because it is familiar to us, its part of our make up, it is how we were raised. It triggers memory receptors in our brains, its almost comforting. We handed our power over to those who abused us, and we are doing it still. We are the peasants paraded in the dock to satisfy the News of the World needs of the masses, and we accept this public humiliation because we believe we deserve it. Those who are thankful to the convent for making them what they are, are more deluded still, but at least they haven't had to live the horrors that we have and they have lived the ordered lives they chose.
We are fighting a cover up that took place while we were 'in care' and is taking place still. The authorities want us to focus on the individual psychopaths, they need someone to burn in the town square and there is nowt more popular than a paedophile, they are this century's witches. They need us to recount in graphic detail every incident of abuse (especially sexual), it draws the Oohs, and the Aahhs - bums on seats and all that. But more importantly, it takes the blame away from the neglect issue and ties the matter up for decades. It matters not to them, because any money set aside for the inevitable will continue to earn interest in their bank accounts, not ours.
And for those worrying about the money coming from the taxpayers, it won't. The money will come from the public liability insurance they should have in place. It is the insurance companies who are fighting these claims, the insurers, the reinsurers and their top of the range lawyers paid £500+ per hour to find loopholes to get their clients off the hook (Insurance and Reinsurance is highly lucrative). Meanwhile, the 'Defence' will be fronted by Council representatives who will imply the cash will have to taken from far more deserving causes, thus reinforcing the idea that the claimant is a low life chancer who would snatch the food out of the mouths of babes to buy their white cider.
We need to change our way of thinking, and we need to face up to reality.
Crimes were committed, because a culture of crime was allowed to breed and exist within the Institutions who were given millions of pounds to care for society's most vulnerable children, whilst the Authorities turned their backs. Where there is physical abuse, there is usually financial abuse, and in drawing up the settlements, I would suggest they take a close look at the accounts from that time, because someone was profiting from keeping us in poverty and humility. Our clothes were decades old and we were only allowed to eat broken, donated biscuits, from the local factory. I was 16 before I experienced the joys of a whole chocolate digestive and to this day the inner catholic in me wants to bash them about a bit before tucking in.
The only way in which this Inquiry can reach a logical, humane and satisfactory conclusion is to sit down at the table and work out a scale of compensation based on the number of years a claimant can prove they were within the care of abusers, in a similar way to which they have dealt with the claims in Eire.
The survivors need to be realistic in their demands. No-one can give them back their childhoods or compensate them for any crazy decisions they made in adulthood as a result. But acknowledgment that it occurred (most of us are treated as crazy), an apology and a realistic cash sum will give many the opportunity to turn their lives around through therapy, education, starting a small business, helping their children, or even an exotic holiday. What does it matter? The first step to recovery is to empower the sufferer, to give back that which was taken away, and nothing does that better than cash.
And the first proactive thing the survivors should do, is to employ an experienced, co-ordinating lawyer, who can draw up a realistic award scale to present as the opening argument in a move towards final settlement and the putting to bed of the entire issue. The survivors need to make clear exactly what it is they want, and they need someone who isn't bashful when it gets down to the nitty gritty.
For most of the working classes, the discussion of money, and the desire for money, is seen as tacky and tasteless, thus they are happy to leave such discussions to the professionals. They feel compelled to present their claims as noble, honourable, its all about justice, not frivolity or a reward for moi. Unfortunately, this mentality allows those with the purse strings to dictate the rules and moral codes and provisos attached. God forbid, any cash should go to the undeserving poor.
As survivors as long as we accept, go along with, and encourage this mentality, we remain victims. The only way the individual abuse cases can be resolved is through a class action that challenges the culture and systems of abuse that existed at that time [and illegal at that time] to pressurise the Church and the Local Authorities to accept their liability for crimes that were committed, and which they paid for.
Individuals can and will, be broken. They are fragile to begin with and most are not aware of the Goliath they are taking on when they set out on their quest for justice. They will further be broken by all the negativity they are dragging up from their pasts and focusing on in their present. By the time they reach the witness box, all it will take to polish them off, is a few swords to the heart, wielded of course by the representative of God's representative here on earth.
I am not advising Survivors to abandon their claims, I am advising them to re-evaluate the way in which they pursue them. The abuse in these convents and childrens' homes and institutions has been proved over and over again. The evidence that a culture of abuse existed is overwhelming. If a survivor has evidence that they were in a home where abuse has been proven to be prolific, accept their word for it, and compensate them accordingly. Don't put them on trial.
At the moment, the only ones profiting from this Inquiry, are the professionals who are investigating it, while the survivors are told to stand in line. Dealing with each case individually will ensure that the Inquiry outlives most, if not all, of them. And this status quo will remain ad infinitum until someone brings up the subject of filthy lucre and a humane and compassionate way in which to make it up to those who were treated so badly when they were at their most vulnerable.
I know that my ideas and theories are not popular, especially among survivors, because most want, the same thing that I wanted, to see and to face their abusers in a Court of law, as adults and as equals. They need to look them in the eye, they need to know why they had been treated so cruelly. But they won't find the answers in a Court room, or through a series of gruelling psychological tests. If you fortunate to 'face' your abuser (I wasn't they sent representatives to lie for them) you will see only the elderly shell of a life that is way more fecked up, than yours could ever be. There is no satisfaction and there is no healing.
Every survivor has a right to tell their story, and every story should be heard, but not in a cold hard witness box, where the general assumption is that they are lying. It is the abusers who should be on trial, not the survivors. There are ways and means in which to tell your story that are both healing and cathartic, ways that will enable you to find the peace and solace that you desperately seek.
Survivors KNOW they were abused, it is society that is planting the 'was it me, was it them?' questions in our heads. We know the system wasn't sane, and it wasn't legal. The Defence will always try to prove it was our fault or the faults of our parents, basically anyone other than their clients. I see one commentator has already mentioned I was insolent. Case proven and damn good thrashing well deserved. Lol.
We accept the blame for our non conformity because we are clearly mad. We know that because when 'responsible people' took over our care they tried to beat it out of us. We have grown up with a distorted, skew whiff, perspective of the world, one that demands we must blame and punish ourselves rather than consider that those making and enforcing the rules, might be criminally insane. As long as we approach these historic abuse claims from that victim perspective and mentality, we can never win. And lets be clear what a win is. A win is an acknowledgment that the abuse occurred, an apology, an assurance that such abuses will never be allowed to happen again, and a cash settlement for every legitimate claimant that is approved by both sides. Survivors should stop taking the blame and accept nothing less.