Saturday 10 December 2016

Stephen Fry apologises for for claiming sex abuse survivors should ‘grow up’ and stop pitying themselves after public backlash

Sasha Brady

Published 14/04/2016 | 10:37

Stephen Fry on The Rubin Report. Photo: YouTube
Stephen Fry on The Rubin Report. Photo: YouTube

Stephen Fry has issued an apology to abuse victims across the world after the "belittling" comments he made about their suffering on TV.

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The TV host and writer came under public backlash after suggesting that those who have been raped or molested should not be offended by books that contain the abuse they suffered.

He was branded “irresponsible” and “beyond contempt” over his remarks, which came during a discussion on the US talk show The Rubin Report about free-speech, censorship, safe-spaces and trigger warnings.

"There are many great plays which contain rapes, and the word rape now is even considered a rape," he said.

"They’re terrible things and they have to be thought about, clearly, but if you say you can’t watch this play, you can’t watch Titus Andronicus, or you can’t read it in an English class, or you can’t watch Macbeth because it’s got children being killed in it, it might trigger something when you were young that upset you once, because uncle touched you in a nasty place, well I’m sorry.

"It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place – you get some of my sympathy – but your self pity gets none of my sympathy."

He continued: “Get rid of it because no one’s going to like you if you feel sorry for yourself. The irony is we’ll feel sorry for you if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Grow up.”

Following the very public backlash over his comments, he told the New Day hat he is very sorry.

"I of course apologise unreservedly for hurting feelings the way I did. That was never my purpose. There are few experiences more terrible, traumatic and horrifying than rape and abuse and if I gave the impression that I belittled those crimes and the effects they have on their victoms then I am so so sorry."

The response came about after one sexual assault survivor penned an open letter to Fry through New Day addressing his remarks. Writing in the publication, Tracey Merrett told Fry: “Hearing you cut me down for continuing to let it affect me as an adult turned me cold.”

The mental health charity Mind, where Fry is President, said it would be addressing the concerns expressed by many over his comments.

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