Wednesday, 23 November 2016


Carrying on from my previous blog and the taboo subject of paedophilia, some have got the impression that I have NEVER encountered people with an unhealthy interest in children.  I have of course, especially during the 5 formative years I spent in a Catholic Care Institution.   

Apart from the malcontents trapped in Holy Orders, the stark, authoritarian convent environment attracted lay staff who make up the kind of characters who would not be out of place in the plot of a standard child in peril horror film. Most were religious fanatics, authoritarians and sadists.  It was believed at that time  (1960s) that children in care (the undeserving poor)could be rehabilitated into model citizens through discipline and religious fervour. Behavioural modification and indoctrination in the Gulag style. 

The convent I was in, St. Anne's was run the Sisters of Mercy, an Order who bizarrely believed that girls were filthy, dirty whores who should be taught to accept a life of servitude.  Scrubbing floors constantly, would apparently, remove any trace of pride we were struggling to cling onto.  We were also cared for by a deranged ex Jesuit monk who believed in the ideology of Opus Dei.  Mortification of the body, he told us, was good for the soul.  Not only should we welcome our punishments, we should thank him for them.  And he would regale us with his own suffering, with tears in his eyes and gazing up to the heavens he would recall how he prostrated himself naked in front of the altar, while his fellow monks lashed him with cat-o-9s.  He also told us about the string he had in his pocket that was attached to his genitals, which may explain the tears in his eyes. 

Though it may have been sexual for those men and women getting their jollies from the sadism, happily any, err, relief they sought, was never in our presence.
With Peter Rand, the psychopathic loon who had charge of us, he targeted the boys.  Not just the boys in the convent, as a scout leader and pillar of the community, he became the catholic mentor to turn to for your troubled (male) teen.  I saw the art of grooming first hand, though I wasn't aware of it at the time.  Whilst we girls suffered for the sins of Eve, the selected boys went on outings (to Westminster), holidays (the Vatican) and wore smart, up to date clothes.  When his personnel file was revealed at my ill chosen legal battle with the Church, that not only was he sexually abusing the boys - he was caught with a 15 year old boy in his bed, there was also financial fraud especially with a Burtons credit card. 

Rand was pure evil.  He was exactly the kind of paedophile that the authorities are protecting.  They are legally liable for employing psychopaths like Rand, but the truth is, he is but the tip of the iceberg because he represents the dominant ideology of that time.  The government were happy to turn a blind eye to hundreds, if not thousands, of children being handed over to religious institutions, with little follow up as to their well being.  That we were being raised to 'go into service' or menial labour was preventative, they didn't want us growing up feckless, like our parents. 

I feel great sorrow for the helpless boys that Rand and his kind preyed upon, and I know the experience blighted many young lives.  But I would say to the survivors, 'let it go'.  Not because I want to protect people like Rand or the evil so called carers who abused their power, but for the sake of their own mental health.  And I speak as someone who allowed my own past to screw my head up for 40+years.  Five years of which were spent in an endless exchange of legal letters (guaranteed to bring any high moods back down to rock bottom) with the click of the letterbox.  It was pure hell, followed by 1 and a half days on a burning pyre (the witness box) and the haunting memories of the Defence telling me what shit parents I had. 

For those pressing for a full inquiry, what exactly do they hope to achieve?  Some might say, it's OK for me, I had my day in Court, finally, as an adult, I got the opportunity to expose, with passion, the evils that went on in that dark satanic place.  But, given the opportunity, I would go back and say to that 14 year old self who vowed revenge, 'what the fuck are you thinking!  There's a big, wide world out there, forget those weirdos, they no have no place in your life anymore'. 

Though I hate to say it, the whole 'legal system' is designed so that the Survivors will fail, or die of old age, whichever comes sooner. Admission of liability could open floodgates.  The recent re-showing of Cathy Come Home, showed how easy it was for the authorities to seize children and the State knows best mentality that existed at that time.  There are hundreds if not thousands of deserving cases out there, but if they settle just one, then thousands more will come forward.

Out of these genuine claims, there has grown a culture of witch hunting, that I find distasteful and unnecessarily cruel.  Dragging dirty old men out of their homes and putting them up for public ridicule is almost barbaric.  What, if any, lessons are to be learned?  The truth is, most of us, if we are honest, we have been groped, or spoken to inappropriately by (mostly) drunken, adult men.  Even as children! As a young girl about town, the winks and the wolfwhistles were the highlights of my day.  One of the first loves of my life began with the words 'ever seen a builder's tool?'. 

I also have (hilarious) memories of a caravan holiday in Great Yarmouth with a group of female pals, average age 16.  We were all smitten by the ageing crooner who performed at the clubhouse each evening, and by the end of the holiday it transpired he had slept with at least 3 of us.  Were we upset? Not a bit of it, we had a side splittin evening comparing notes and laughing at his set routines.   

But I digress.  I spent most of my adult life despising Peter Rand and the nuns, I longed for the day when I could confront him especially, as an adult and an equal.  I wanted to scream at him for the cruelty he unleashed, I wanted to call him every dirty, filthy name I could think of, I wanted to tell him how his hatred of females had made me feel.  I never got that opportunity.  At the time of the trial he was dying, cancer of the anus ironically, but he had enough breath to swear on a statement denying everything. 

The reality was, revenge wasn't sweet.  The only person I had been destroying all those years was myself.  My, much wiser, family and friends had long ago made the decision to move on.  There is a good reason for letting sleeping dogs lie, every time I think about the miserable things that happened in my past, I feel like shit.  And I have to ask, why would I do that to myself?

I would urge those survivors who are still demanding inquiries and prosecutions, what it is they expect?  From personal experience I can say there is no satisfaction whatsoever in revenge.  Whilst I am glad that Rand went to meet his maker knowing that I knew, is enough.  The moment had long since passed.  He wasn't an active threat to the community or anyone, I honestly don't know what punishment would have been fitting. 

All those resources that are being wasted on historic crimes would be better transferred to agencies that are tackling the risks faced by children now, in the present day. The refugee children in Calais, those kids here who are threatened with homelessness and hunger, their parents at breaking point by harsh sanctions.  There isn't any way to right wrongs from the past, other than to use them as lessons for the future.  The truth was, all those kids seized and taken into care, were in far more danger of encountering paedophiles, sadists and sociopaths than they ever would have in the 'outside' world. 

 The greatest thing the survivors could do is walk away, accept that they have given those vile, odious ghosts from their past, enough of their time, and look towards a more positive future.  Most of those claiming to be on their side really aren't.  They are professionals who are purportedly experts, in what, I can't imagine, but in any event, they are programmed to promote the victim's cause, or the Defendants, depending on who is employing them.  It is in no-one's interest to bring this long running saga to an end.  Not the victims who feel success in a court will somehow heal them, and especially not all the support agencies that have been created to support them.  Throw in all the legal fees and that's quite an industry, but sadly, not one that puts the good mental health and wellbeing of the survivors at the forefront.    



    Bless you, Cristobell xx

  2. Your book “Cry and you Cry Alone” shows how difficult it is for an individual to challenge a society or its institutions. The British society’s refusal to admit any wrongdoing, as in your case, is nothing but a proof of its inability (all societies’, in fact) to deal with institutional psycho-social abuse.

    A lot of evacuated Finnish children, who ended up in foster families in Sweden, due to the war, many of whom have suffered a lot, got together a few years ago and sued the Swedish Government and won that lawsuit.

    So, in my opinion, your Government owe you at least a public apology. Anyway, your book, is yet another evidence of society's self-justification (I refer to most of the societies in the civilized world), but still a comfort to all those, who have had similar experiences (not just in the U K), but cannot speak for themselves. Yes I agree, let it go, but not in terms of forgetting to talk about what has happened in the past. Consequently, I’ll keep your book on my bookshelf and I’ll discuss it with those who care.

    1. @ Björn S.24 November 2016 at 20:26

      Did you not read that Ros lost her court case?

    2. To Anonymous 24 November 2016 at 23:51

      Of course, I’ve read that Rosalinda lost the battle (I’ve, in fact analysed and discussed her book from many perspectives, otherwise I wouldn’t have said that the British Government (your countries highest authorities) should at least apologize, and by that I mean, on behalf of those in power who, in the sixties and seventies, allowed the religious institutions to physically and psychologically abuse children. If Rosalinda had won that lawsuit, there wouldn’t be any need for an apology. The win would be an apology in itself. Sorry, I cannot make it much clearer.

    3. My book lacked the raw, graphic, detail of the best selling misery memoire because I told my story from a child's perspective. How I viewed the world around me at that time.

      I wasn't abused sexually, though sexual abuse was going on in the home I was in. The emphasis on sexual abuse grates tbh, physical and mental abuse was far more prevalent.

      In addition, I did not blame my 'feckless' parents, as I went through the journey I learned how hard they had tried and how much they went through in those harsh 'Cathy Come Home' days.

      To my shame, I spent too many years being influenced by the ideology of Jeremy Kyle types. I condemned my mum for not being like other 'good' mums, I happily played the victim, the abandoned child, it suited the tragic heroine narrative I had running in my head at that time.

      In adulthood 5 words changed my entire attitude towards her, and once they had sunk in, I began to love her unique approach to the world. I don't think she ever followed a single rule in her life, even in her hospital bed attached to an oxygen tank, she lit up a fag, and then took on all the nursing staff who pounced on her. Within days on the ward, she accused one old lady of having a bottle of gin under her blankets and another of having a fling with a porter. I'm 87 screamed the outraged strumpet, and apparently much chaos ensued whilst my mother sat in bed giggling.

      Bizarrely, the other patients and even the staff became quite fond of her. The ward sister even travelled over 100 miles with her in an ambulance when she was transferred. Apparently she asked her to turn the other way so she could have a fag.

      I had spent most of my adult life trying to persuade her to curb her outrageous behaviour. I had wrongly assumed that people would be offended or that she would embarrass herself... and me. What I didn't see was the way in which their eyes lit up, or the giggles and the knowing smiles of those who picked up on the joke. My mum was one of those terrible old Irish women who say the most hideous things about well, anyone, but take the sting out of it by adding, 'God bless them'. Whilst I had always enjoyed her irreverent humour in private, it mortified me when she said it out loud, in public.

      But what were those 5 words? SHE IS AS SHE IS. Once that sunk in, I began to appreciate, and even enjoy her 'madness'. And I feel fortunate that she wasn't like other mums, she was unique, she was bursting with character, and she was full of fun.

      I didn't win the case, but I won my childhood memories back. For too long they had been distorted my own need to play the martyr and those who pandered to my self pity. To be fair my lawyer was honest with me. He told me straight that winning would not take away the demons. Now I see it as a journey of self discovery, where way too much emphasis was placed on the bad. Those vile people from the convent did not deserve any place in head.

  3. The number of times you have posted your story and "advice" to others just shows that you have never moved on or got over your experience.

    Your advice is crap and doesn't work.

    1. And I will post my story again and again 23:43, because if my words can help just one other person then it will have been worth it.

      We only have one life and as much as I want to leave this world to the tune of No Regrets, I do regret that I wasted so much of my time and energy on the negative.

      As to it doesn't work, I would have to disagree. I am no longer haunted by the childhood demons, I have found a whole load of new ones to replace them. However, since I discovered what the word catastrophizing meant, I can sort of keep them in perspective.

      I don't feel sorry for myself for having such 'shit' parents, I feel truly privileged that I had such fun loving, liberal, compassionate and enlightened people to shape and form my views of the world they brought me into. And there are far more happy memories than sad.

      Unfortunately, too many care leavers were literally turned out of the convent on the 16th birthdays. They had been indoctrinated to hate their reckless parents and families, and many literally found themselves on their own. So many of my peers were left 'out on their own', even though their wider families had spent years looking for them. To their eternal shame the nuns never passed on the contact details to them.

    2. Whilst the things that happened to us as kids were wrong on every level, we can't change it or make it right. The happiest and most successful of my friends and peers, are the ones who got on with their lives regardless.

      I disagree with Freud, reliving your worst nightmares over and over, is stressful and debilitating. As this whole CSA debacle continues, so too does the suffering of those who came forward. Whatever closure they are seeking, they won't find it this way. They are being used, quite cruelly I would add, by careerists on both sides.

  4. Ros I don't know the circumstances of you being taken into care nor do I know the circumstances of you returning to your parents but what I can say is that your mother must have been one strong lady to have got down so low that she lost her children but still managed to pick herself up to rebuild the family. My sister is a foster parent and I encounter so many children whose parents have lost control of their lives. It's easy for people to condemn them and wonder how they allow their lifestyle to continually let down these wee ones but people should understand that this is a continual cycle and often when you see the grandparents they too had the same problems and without help these children will go the same way. I'm rambling a bit but what I'm trying to say is that in this day an age these parents are getting so much help to try and get them of this distructive path their on and still in 99% of the cases they fail. Your mum I'm sure didn't have quarter the help these mums are getting and yet she was able to turn it around for you.

    I would also like to comment on the governments defense that your parents were shit. I have seen that being used in defense here in Ireland. It's as if they say the parents were shit that it somehow puts it in the mind of people that the children were so badly damaged that the damage they inflicted on them isomehow fades into insignificances in comparison

  5. Thank you for your comments 20:01. It was actually my dad who rescued us and built a home. My mum, bless her, was just never cut out to be a wife and mother. But I'm OK with that now, I accept that some women rebel against the domestic role society dictates for them. Heck, I've even done it myself by choosing an alternative lifestyle, I wear my 'Ms' title with pride, I've never wanted to be a man's other half.

    Thank you picking up on the government's defence that my parents were shit. This was the cruellest aspect of the entire trial. In fact it would be fair to say, it was my parents who were on trial, not the Church. At one point whilst I was in the witness box, the barrister for the Defence demanded I admit that my mother never loved me. He had broken me down into a blubbering heap by then, but I couldn't and wouldn't accept it.

    His words set me on a journey of discovery. I had with me in the hotel room, an album of photos that predated my time in the convent. Somehow I was able to retrieve that fearless, confident, bold little kid I could see in those black and white pictures. All the happy memories came flooding back, and I needed them badly, I was mad as hell at the heinous accusations made against my mum and dad. Even the documents held by the authorities stated that my brother and myself were bright, friendly and above average intelligence when we went into care. Two years after being 'rescued' I was 'arrogant, sullen and withdrawn'.

    It was common practice with the nuns and staff who had care of us, to bring up the 'sins' of our parents when punishing us. Actually, for the nuns, reminding the girls that their mothers were whores was everyday vernacular, and scrubbing floors on your hands and knees cures you of that sort of thing.

    Society couldn't punish the feckless parents, but it could ensure their offspring, under correctional conditions could have it knocked out of them.

    as I seem to have got up on my soapbox this has now turned into a blog! lol.