Friday 13 December 2019

Breaking silence

• I refer to the new laws on child protection, and your Editorial Comment of April 26 last, in which the following quote appeared: "Justice Minister Alan Shatter referred to a sensational recent case involving incest and other crimes.

"Although this case was untypical, nobody can feel comfortable about the length of the period, many, many years over which the crimes were committed or the disastrous effects on the abused." The word "untypical" jumped out at me. I wonder who has decided that these awful cases were untypical? It is untypical that they make the courts and therefore that they make the papers. But untypical -- no.

Abuse, sexual and emotional as well as all other forms of it are very much the order of the day for lots of children in Ireland.

Another line from your Comment section read as follows: "In Ireland at one time people would have refused to believe that a sports coach could have engaged in sexual abuse." The biggest reality we have to believe and accept is that 50pc of abuse takes place in the home -- yes, by mothers and fathers. About 90pc is done by someone known to the child.

Occasionally cases make headlines and make it into court but the thousands of cases that go unnoticed and unreported are the biggest shame of all. The resultant suicides and mental health issues are such a shame. This is the problem we have to take on board. Are we ready?

The organisation One in Four -- so named because of the incidence of abuse in Ireland -- says it all. But do we believe the figures? We prefer to stay in denial when it comes to the family and abuse. This allows the abuse to thrive in silence.

Until we realise that our best friends, our workmates and our neighbours are the ordinary people who abuse and torture children, then we will remain in denial and children will continue to suffer at the hands of adults.

It will take a lot of courage to break down the wall of denial. Why is it that the thousands of people abused in their own homes find it so difficult to speak about their suffering?

Are we prepared to open this Pandora's box?

I was sexually, physically and emotionally abused by my mother for 15 years. Yes, I did say my mother. Can you imagine the reaction and support I got from the family members that I confided in? None. Again it was denial and no contact. I was left on my own with friends to support me. No family.

It is so hard for people to accept fathers as abusers, so what was I to expect?

Now we intend to jail people who know of abuse and don't report it -- 10 years in jail. We will need to build a special prison to hold the anticipated numbers.

We will never fully heal until we can be brave enough to believe.

Name and address with editor

Irish Independent

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