Well the meeting room was packed to bursting point, many people had travelled many miles to be there, my new best friend J and I pushed our way in, we weren't going to be shut out! As it happened, we managed to get a get a good view by standing along the side wall.
Speaker after speaker gave heartbreaking accounts of banging their heads against a brick wall, including representatives from the legal profession, social services and most poignantly of all, survivor after survivor. One MP asked who can we trust among the police, as a survivor I would ask, who can we trust among the politicians?
The always compelling Mr. Bill Maloney was loud and passionate, he was determined to be heard, and who could blame him! He disrupted the meeting, but there was no tutting, or strong arm tactics, the air of understanding among the audience and indeed the panellists, was one of sympathy. Was privileged to shake his hand and receive a hug after the meeting. He's mad, bad and dangerous to know, but what a guy!
In my opinion, they had too many speakers, this may have been deliberate, because there wasn't time for any questions either, and lots of people had lots to say.
I personally suffered at the hands of abusers in a Catholic Children's home in the late 1960's/early 70's and took the Church and Public Authority to Court in 2010. I proved my case beyond doubt - Peter Rands' personnel file was made available during the trial, the Church had fought to keep back for 5+ years, the abuser was caught with a 15 year old boy in his bed, but I lost on the Limitation point.
The Children's Home I was in, St. Anne's Convent, Orpington, Kent (30 mins from central London) was a hotbed of paedophilia and sadism, at least 2 of the former 'Uncles' were imprisoned, and the worst of all of them Peter Rands, carried on working with children until the late 1980's! He was also a cub and scout leader and a pillar of the community. If and when they ever dig into this particular creep's past, they will uncover far more than they ever did with Peter Righton! Don't just take my word for it, my friend Rita Iagoe, who lives in Australia, lost a brother to that beast. She wanted to speak to the Enquiry via Skype, but did not even receive the courtesy of a reply.
The damage from the past must be dealt with! It won't just go away, the UK is full of walking wounded, people who's lives were totally destroyed by the treatment they received in their formative years. A time when 'the authorities' had care of them. Sadly too many care leavers leave the system with both their heads and bodies screwed up. When I regained contact with my old friends from the convent, it was surprising how our lives had run almost parallel. Problems with authority, problems with keeping employment/friends, problems with trust/relationship, problems with commitment. In our psyches, we've 'done time', we were imprisoned - at the mercy of every creep who fancied working with kids. And the Care System is where they get them folks, just in case there is any doubt out there. Lets not forget, that had these children been raised with courtesy and respect their lives could have been entirely different.
No-one can give back those 'lost' lives, but they sure as hell can help to make their present lives better by compensating them for the damage done and supporting them now with picking up the pieces.
I don't really care so much about punishing those men and women who abused so many kids who went through their hands, but I do care about the kids going into care and being arrested now. As soon as they 'go into the system' they are vulnerable. Sadly, people inclined towards 'abuse' and sadism are drawn into professions where they have access to vulnerable people, its not just kids who are abused, and the government needs to find some sort of psychological screening system to make sure these abuses never happen again.
I wasn't sexually abused, but I was punched, kicked, stripped, humiliated and verbally abused on a daily basis, as were the other girls cared for by vindictive nuns. The girls didn't get to go on the days out or trips away, but the physical abuse was just as hurtful and left just as many scars as the sexual abuse, but everyone seems to forget that. So too is the psychological abuse. Ok, its not only convent Kids who are told they are going to burn in hell for all eternity, but others don't generally get dragged out of their beds at 3.00am for it. Anyway, I wanted to ask a couple of questions today, but questions were not encouraged, nor was any time allowed.
Question 1: Who makes the decision as to the next Head of the Enquiry?
Question 2: As many survivors sadly, go on to become offenders, and indeed alcohol and substance abusers, is it really a good idea to put forward an ex Police Chief to conduct it? In my opinion, that would discourage people from coming forward, and surely that is the last thing, the Enquiry wants to do?
Question 3: Why are some 'homes' excluded?
Question 4: Many survivors, myself included, felt afraid to come along today. Who can we trust?
The Enquiry did not end on a positive note in my opinion. No 5 or 10 point plans were put forward as to how the Enquiry was going to go forward, nor contact numbers or website addresses given out to the hundreds who attended. Would it have killed them to write something on a board, or hand out a few cards? Fortunately a few of us were at least able to speak to journalists from the Express, the Mail, and the BBC, they at least had time to hear our stories and the ways in which some paedophiles are seemingly being ignored.