Wednesday 23 October 2019

Dr Ciara Kelly: 'I believe both victims of the Michael Jackson abuse scandal'

"It was widely reported that child porn was found at Neverland"

Ciara Kelly

Did you watch Leaving Neverland, the documentary about Michael Jackson's relationship with Wade Robson and James Safechuck? Both men allege that Jackson sexually abused them for years as children. And it's created massive debate on the nature of abuse and credibility, with a huge divide existing between those who cannot conscience that the Michael Jackson, whom they love, could have done such things and those who cannot believe that you'd doubt the painfully grim testimony of his accusers.

Let's break this down. Michael Jackson is referred to repeatedly as asexual, sweet and childlike by his fans. Think of your own experiences of grown men. The only ones I've ever known to be childlike were those with learning disabilities. But they aren't childlike in a sweet Michael Jackson way. They're childlike in an innocent, actually childlike way. I've never met an adult who exhibited a persona of childlikeness like his, and I'm not sure I believe that such manner could be anything more than an affectation irrespective of their peculiar upbringing.

With regard to the perceived asexuality. Some people have very low sex drives. Some people are voluntarily celibate - often if they're suppressing their sexuality for some reason. It was common enough in the past for gay men to do so when homosexuality was discriminated against.

But Jackson wasn't asexual. He practically invented the crotch grabbing, pelvic thrust. And, in his earlier adult career, he wrote songs that were all about sex - often with a theme of having to escape predatory women. It's also been widely reported that there was child porn found at Neverland by police investigators. In truth I find the concept of asexuality questionable. We're animals, food and sex are our primary needs.

I also find it hard to believe that a grown man would choose the company of small children as his preferred companions for reasons that weren't nefarious. Children aren't our peers. Sex and drugs are the predilections of rock stars. We know Jackson took the drugs, is it not probable that he also had the groupies? Perhaps they just happened to be young boys.

On to the credibility of his accusers. Many people have suggested the time lag between them coming forward, their previous defence of Jackson and possible financial gains, all undermine the believability of their accusations.

The average time it takes an adult survivor of child sexual abuse (CSA)to talk about it is 35 years. This is generally because they've so much to come to terms with personally, from the CSA, that until that point they simply aren't ready. That's the terrible legacy of sexual abuse - it literally takes a lifetime to get over.

The changing of their stories has been used as an easy "I wouldn't believe a word they say" by die-hard fans. But that denies the reality of grooming. Grooming is priming, coaxing and coercing a victim until they become willing to take part in, and remain silent, about the abuse. It's an insidious manipulation by the abuser which makes the victim feel complicit through the secondary gain they get from the abuse - connection, affection, attention. They're manipulated into believing their relationship is emotionally valid. They sometimes seek the abuse. They feel hurt if it's withdrawn.

Robson and Safechuck describe that experience very clearly. They felt special because of Jackson's attention. They felt rejected when he moved on to other boys. It's understandable they supported him. They still viewed their relationship through the prism of being manipulated as children into believing the sexual abuse was a form of love.

Lastly money. It isn't impossible that someone would stake a claim against Jackson because of his wealth. But that's no more likely than someone so wealthy using their status to abuse those with less power really is it? I believe these two men and it's horrific that there are maybe others who suffered the same abuse. Even worse there are many who facilitated him preying on these children. I'll never listen to Bad again without believing it's true.

@ciarakelkydoc - Ciara presents 'Lunchtime Live' on Newstalk

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