25 Feb 2013

Our sexual watershed

Music schools, parliament, the church, the media, allegations are flying around the corridors of virtually every institution in Britain. The Savile aftermath is having a vast effect on many who as children and adults were abused by others.

One abuse victim has told me that for her it was the horrifying suicide of the abused violinist who had suffered so gravely in the legal process involved in convicting her music professor.

The swirl of allegation and denial that is filling the airwaves is forcing many to relive the abuse inflicted upon them. I know this in part because in a small way I too was a victim as a child.

What we now know too is Savile did not just blow the lid off management structures at the BBC, but more importantly, his vile exploits also exposed the institutional tolerance of the established media to gross misbehaviour, so long as the celebrity was big enough.

One small comfort we can take is that many of us have truly been through a genuine sexual revolution – both in attitudes and behaviorally. Some have not. Some tabloids still have a long way to go, some of their websites still further. Indeed, the demand indicates many consumers may have a ways to travel too.

When I started in television more than three decades ago, many of the few women in the newsroom were treated first and foremost sex objects and only secondarily journalists. Remarks about physique and ‘sexiness’ were rife.

There was improper touching too, a needless brushing in passing, a pinched bottom. But above all there was a constant and prodigious intake of alcohol. The bar was ‘in-house’ and inexpensive. Many would start at lunchtime, resume after the early News, and start again before and after late news transmission – it was common to all broadcasters.

It was commonplace for some newscasters to go to air the worse for wear. And if that was happening in the news divisions, Savile tells us about what was happening in entertainment.

There’s little doubt in my mind that this alcoholic intake severely depleted the judgement of many as to what was proper or improper.

The contrast with today is acute. I know almost no one who drinks at lunchtime or indeed any time before the working day is done. The bar has long since left media work places. The desperate stench of cigarettes is gone. Women are journalists at last, on an increasingly equal footing.

The women and children who were abused at the hands of the church, the politicians, the media and beyond have suffered acutely during the Savile revelations. Savile has most savagely resurrected their own memories of abuse. The courageous individuals who have come forward to speak publicly about what Savile did to them, have inspired others to come forward to expose their abusers. And it will continue for a time to come.

And whilst we in broadcasting, in the law, in parliament, in education, and in wider society must tread with diligence and great care to both accuser and accused, we owe it to those who suffered in a hopefully departing age, to have the full protection of us all in ensuring that their claims thoroughly investigated and responded to.

This is a dramatic moment in the affairs of men and women; we shall all be tested. But don’t underestimate what this time means to the abused. I know, I was six years old when a member of the domestic staff at the school, where my father taught, abducted me.

He took me to his room and undressed me, and then himself. Thank heavens someone saw the abduction and eventually a member of staff intervened and rescued me. I remember to this day fretting over not being able to do my braces up. And I admit that I have found Savile regurgitating the guilt and confusion that I felt.

No amount of effort in responding to complainants must be spared, but neither must it be allowed to become a witch-hunt. We face some delicate balances in which the welfare of many is at stake. But I suspect the journey has only just begun.



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66 reader comments

  1. Dale Archer says:

    Compassionate, thought provoking and salutary.

  2. Andy says:

    Reading this blog left me feeling I’d witnessed a step, in a forward direction. We may at last begin to link arms and step together, placing responsibility with the abusers and placing guilt on the floor. Our journey forward need not be burdened with that baggage.

    1. chess says:

      So you understand only too well what it’s like, Jon Snow.

      Will you lead the way for the rest of us? Will you be our MSM voice?

  3. Kate says:

    Thanks for telling your story Jon.So many remain silenced by misplaced shame and guilt .

  4. anon says:

    When I tried to sue for damages after sexual harassment left me with post traumatic stress disorder I was advised that new laws had been passed preventing a legal action after three years. I was too ill before the three years to organise myself sufficiently to take action. Day to day functionning took all my energies. I was also coping withsudden accelerated high blood pressure after the incident and excrutiatingly painful stress headaches.
    My union did little , I suspect the perpetrator was a member of the same union. I had almost a year off work. It cost me a greatdeal in osteopathy for headaches and I am still on high blood pressure medication. Lawyers fees took another £900.00 I consulted a psychiatrist whose guidance in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy enabled me to deal with the resulting fears and uncertainties and symptoms. I paid to see him privately as the waiting list on the National Health was over six months. He was incredibly helpful and i still use the taught strategies.

    I still avoid situations where I suspect similar behaviours might occur. It is a horrendous problem and faced by many.that was one of the worst instances but it was not the only one.

    1. Frances Mannion says:

      Its disgraceful that the abuse seems not to have been resolved appropriately.

      Avoiding situations with the potential for similar behaviors is understandable. It may be a mistake. You may be better not using avoidance behavior as a coping mechanism. It can reinforce trauma and create phobic attitudes. Damages may have helped to get some sense of compensation,but doubt they’d have given as much sense of redress as first seems. You may gain more redress from using your experience in helping others. May be worth thinking about a capacity on a voluntary or paid basis in which you can help those who need assistance in getting over abuse and whatever may pass for justice in this issue. Its interesting that your post was anon, as if you feel you have to be ashamed about being abused. If you are not to blame, then you shouldn’t add shame to the sense of distress you feel. You may benefit from assertiveness classes and self defence, sort of helps restore a sense of personal power and helps you feel less like an available doormat for anyone who feels like walking on you.

  5. Patricia Farrington says:

    Jon I am so sorry for what happened to you. It must be pretty dreadful to stir up memories for everyone who has suffered any kind of abuse as putting it out of mind has to have been paramount. I cannot imagine the horror. Please keep reporting ….C4N is the only decent news programme on air and we rely on your integrity and ability to keep digging. We love you all & look forward to your broadcasts. Just sorry about Michael Crick’s allegiance to the “other” Manchester football team !

  6. Richard Nunn says:

    Mr Snow, this is an excellent article, and it’s always good to hear from those with experience in a field. We hear stereotypes of drunken journalists or out of control celebrities but it’s both refreshing and depressing to hear of it first hand.

    I am sorry to hear of your own misfortune from when you are younger. It is sad to hear how widespread such things are.

  7. jan fuscoe says:

    Let’s hope you’re right. Lives are ruined by secrecy and guilt. The more we know, the easier it will be for people to speak out… hopefully.

  8. Steve Fx says:

    Hopefully there is, from the tragedy of Savile’s victims, a renewed momentum to root out every humiliation. And the vile network of deaf ears and blind eyes that let these humiliations go on.

    So many of these “incidents” have been lightly dismissed as if inconsequential (or more likely the victim’s status inconsequential compared to the magnitude of the perpetrator)

    It should not become a witch-hunt (though at times it may), but the momentum must not be squandered.

    1. HD - female says:

      I would like to share this brave post of Jon’s, but do not feel able to given the factual inaccuracies within one of the comments. I posted a kindly reply but find it has been moderated and not posted i.e. it no longer shows as awaiting moderation.

      All it said was that one person’s comment regarding people who were abused becoming abused is statistically wrong. The literature clearly shows that the number of poeple who abuse who were themselves abused are in the minority. These facts matter to victims such as Jon and myself. Misinformation is hurtful and unhelpful. Public perception, as we know, if influential, it needs to be right.

      I also suggested C4 might make a documentary on this very subject.

  9. Ray Turner says:

    Good piece John.

    The thought I’m left with is that here in Eastleigh, perhaps the campaign to rename Southampton Airport as “Benny Hill Airport” is not such a good idea…

  10. Philip Edwards says:


    This must have been an agonising piece to write. It obviously came from the heart, and it was brilliant because of it. More than that – it was NEEDED.

    Events have shown mainstream media has much to answer for in the tragic deterioration of our society and culture. Too many editors, journalists and presenters have gone along to get along. They still do, and I cannot see this changing in the near future.

    The results are all around you, thus demonstrating that media culture can decline despite a reduction in the intake of alcohol, nicotine and other substances. Do I really need to repeat evidence from the Leveson Inquiry and gawd knows how many other inquiries, official and unofficial?

    I make no apology for returning to media treatment of the Hillsborough disaster and general reporting of socioeconomic media attacks on Merseyside. Example, it isn’t so long since one of your blogs (now removed) claimed Liverpudlians were “overly sentimental” and “wouldn’t get” a new inquiry over Hillsborough. You were vaguely and absurdly racist on the first count and devastatingly wrong on the second. I hope you are duly ashamed of yourself. And you were the least of it, as you well know.

    This may well be a personal and cultural watershed, but it will make not one jot of difference if senior mentors like yourself allow it to be a mere temporary catharsis. The establishment will try to absorb this and then quietly put it to one side; it is their way.

    Meanwhile, your personal bravery is much appreciated by this citizen. You have carried that memory-burden for too long; you can put it down now.

  11. Bryn Gerard says:

    The majority of abusers were once victims and as such we would have felt sympathy for them, but we cast them as vile and unforgivable, which their actions most certainly are.

    They are still humans with functional disorders, that seem to be beyond the reach of medical science. Sex is the single most driving force in the majority of people and with abusers the sexual aesthetic has become corrupted through their experiences. I’m not sure psychology is close to understanding how that can be undone.

    I think we will sadly more of this for some time to come.

    1. HD - female says:

      That is not an accurate statement from the literature regarding the cycle of abuse. People who have suffered abuse are in the minority within the group who perpetrate. Such inaccuracies are distressing and unhelpful to the majority of victims who have not and will never become perpetrators.

      Perhaps C4 could make a documentary about this?

  12. Adi J says:

    Dear Sir,

    ” Women are journalists at~last, on an increasingly equal~footing. ”

    This seems a contradiction in terms: it’s either equal or it’s not; when the slaves are released, they are as free as you or I.

    If this is so, how~come Channel Four News rarely if~ever has an all~woman presentation, like say, BBC2’NewsNight’ or ‘SkyNews’?

    Be a good~thing&a place to put yer money where yer mouth is if you at~least attempt it.

    Be brave, lead the way.


    AJ (a male)

    1. Hazel Lewry says:

      I think what Jon was pointing out that despite the huge leaps in equality between the sexes in many professions, there are still some ways in which the journey is not quite there yet.
      A “Very good, but could do better” assessment, if you prefer.
      I understood what he meant.

    2. Mudplugger says:

      A news team doesn’t need to be all-female, all-dusky or all-gay to demonstrate its lack of discrimination.
      Take a look at the C4 News Team, there’s a bit of everything, but it doesn’t matter. They are all there simply because they are damned good at their jobs.
      I neither notice nor care whether they are black/white, girl/boy, gay/straight or whatever – selecting people on merit is the only way to go and C4 News shows the way.

  13. Emma says:

    Thank you Jon for telling your story which I found very moving and compassionate.

  14. LB says:

    Thank you for telling us what happened to you. No one should ever have such an experience. Hope you and everyone affected will be able to lay the feelings to rest.

  15. Britt_W says:

    Good post, Jon. I agree we have to thread carefully and avoid witch-hunting for the sake of it. However, it is good to know that many victims now feel they can finally come forward and speak out – post Saville. I can imagine this must be a tough act in many workplaces, not least within the Westminster ‘club’. Your work as a journalist is so important. You have the tools and the power to influence and to lessen the stigma for the victims, to make them feel they are not alone, remove their guilt. But with these power comes great responsibility, making sure the reports are not based on sheer rumours and making a good case for it, before broadcasting. Not that you would do otherwise on C4news…

    Having read your book ‘Shooting History’ with great pleasure as it came out, I was aware of your childhood experiences in that school. Personally, I think this makes you even more suitable to cover any ‘post-Saville’ stories.

    As for women’s situation in general, yes a lot has happened in 30 years, but sadly, we still have a long way to go. Just the fact that we – around 50% of the population – are often being mentioned on a par with, say, ethnic minorities or disabled people in debates etc… I find that utterly weird. We make up for half the world’s population, we shouldn’t have to shout!

  16. Paul Padley says:

    Well done John Snow in spotting that these problems permeate our whole society. They are the consequence of feudal structures which institutionalise ‘dominance’ behaviours and which instil fear where there should be courage to fight back and speak up. England lost more than people realise when Henry VII took the throne by force from Richard III. Since Bosworth Field appealing for justice to the establishment has been a risky thing to do.

  17. olivia says:

    Thank you for writing this Jon. The media must keep reporting on sex crimes committed against children in years gone by, the time elapsed does not mean it should be ignored. CH4 has done some reporting on Elm Guest House , Operation Fernbridge but we need more please, to keep this issue alive.

    1. Richard says:

      I totally agree Olivia. I fear though that this sordid business involved too many powerful people and they will again manage to cover it up. Can a nation ever justify the abuse of children to further it’s power?

  18. christy gavin says:

    All the media on sexual abuse really does being me back 50 years ago in ireland. I had my redress 2004 and tought i put it to bed. Now i find i keep remembering over and over again. I keep seeing the men WHO beat me and sexually raped me but most of all When i Think about it i get that filty swweaty smell and itt makes me feel so Dick even today. So jon U are so correct the media does being it. Back.

  19. Gerry says:

    Jon, an incredibly brave, honest and moving post.

  20. Lisa says:

    I love how you call it: a genuine sexual revolution. Wrestling against being dehumanised, whether for an instant or a lifetime of course takes many forms. For those who are brave enough to live free from undeserved shame & bias, and who pursue finding joy in spite of it – I agree, that is nothing short of revolutionary. I dig it & it makes me smile. Nice one.

  21. Margaret says:

    It can be incredibly hard to talk about what has happened, you and everyone else that has come forward with their stories are incredibly brave. I never told anyone what happened to me as I was only 4 when it began and didnt know what to say, then as time went on i was ashamed and worried that I had done something to bring this attention to myself. I felt awful when i found out that i wasnt the only one it had happened to and if i had only said something then perhaps others wouldnt have suffered.

  22. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    “It is dangerous to be right on matters on which the establishment are wrong” Voltaire. Perhaps things are changing for the better,

  23. Alun Pugh says:

    Brave indeed.

    C4 is by some distance the best news programme on TV. One of the few news progs for a grown up audience these days.

  24. Simon Robinson says:

    This is a remarkable article. I have been pondering for a while now how to write about just how infected so much of British society is, but also more positively if the Savile exposures will actually bring about a transition in the consciousness of British people, and also arrests regardless of what position a person holds, be it politician, entertainer, lawyer, child protection officer, police officer, Lord etc.

    This piece expresses so well this watershed moment. We really need to keep this issue in the public eye, as there is so much more to come out, which needs to come out so that we can begin to repair our FUBAR society.

  25. Woman says:

    I agree that this post is brave, and many readers will be grateful, but I’m not convinced that attitudes towards women and children have changed quite as much as suggested. The ways the criminal justice system deals with sex crimes; the treatment of women in many workplaces… Sitting on employment tribunals I have seen some shocking cases. I wonder whether Savile etc. will be like the Stephen Lawrence moment, where things seems to have changed, but it took little more than a decade to reverse what had seemed like permanent progress.

  26. Alice McGregot says:

    While the reporting and uncovering of sexual abuse, particularly in institutions that wield either great psychological power and instill fear (like some churches and schools) or are seen as untouchable (such as celebrities) is very distressing, it is remarkable and heartening that individuals are beginning to talk more freely of their experiences, which while less dramatic are still traumatising. This may lead us nearer to the zero tolerance attitude we should have regarding such things. Thank you Jon. I also wonder whether there has been abuse in other powerful institutions such as psychiatric hospitals?

  27. Amanda says:

    Although mechanisms exist to seek justice for victims of sexual abuse, workplace bullying, for protection of whistleblowers etc. there are still plenty of barriers in the way for those who seek that justice. Few dare stick their heads above the parapet and the law protects the strong at every turn. Most of us have suffered some form of illegal impropriety and to see the semblance of justice dangled over our heads by those who can use the law to protect themselves is simply sickening.

  28. Janette Scharenborg says:

    Thank you for sharing Jon, like many of us this whole sordid afair with Savile has opened up many wounds, but I dont think thats a bad thing.

    Sexual abuse takes away of our sense of belonging and places us in a perpetual belief of not being enough. It robs us of our innocence and throws us into a lifelong conversation of feeling we are not worthy.

    In our lifetime we all have to confront three major questions: Do I belong? Am I enough? Do I matter? Through the experience of sexual abuse, we believe that none of that is true. We come to believe that we don’t belong, that we aren’t enough, and that we don’t matter.

    When the silence of sexual abuse is broken, healing can begin for all of us. When we can find the courage to take a stand and say “No more,” we begin to dissolve the SHAME and self-loathing which we never deserved. It is at that moment when we can begin to believe that we are enough, that we do belong, and that we do matter.

    Society today would rather bury its head in the sand than to admit sexual abuse of children is happening all around us in every walk of life.

    Until the Jimmy Savile story broke, hardly anyone talked about this unspeakable subject, but now people are talking and I hope are also listening and learning the valuable lessons that must be learnt from this whole sad story. I also hope that all his victims will now at last begin to heal, because only when one is heard and believed can the healing begin.

  29. Nat says:

    Thank you for speaking out Jon and I am so sorry to hear of your experiences. We can only hope that through the Saville case (and others) that the shame can be shifted to the rightful individuals. Those who abuse and not the abused. That’s my hope from all of this that people will be listened to.

  30. Jo says:

    What a moving piece. Immense respect to you for speaking out, Jon; hopefully this will help others by acting as another watershed moment – like so many before now – and hopefully, both yourself, and others, will feel better for speaking out about their experiences.

  31. laura says:

    After so much time has elapsed how very brave of you to expell what must have been such a harrowing experience. As a public figure i would be very surprised if your open honestly does not give another the courage to come forward and shame these vile people. Well done. God bless you.

  32. Dean says:

    I have always held you in the utmost respect as a broadcaster. I feel moved by the courage, honesty and selflessness in your post.

    I salute you and others who have the courage to confront such terrible events with such strength.

    You and others like you are turning the tide against the oppressors and abusers of the past, present, and future you are removing any feelings of personal shame. These things can only come from the courage and humanity of those like yourself.

    I salute you.

  33. Chris Stobart says:

    Bless you for your honesty Jon. Many loving vibes sent your way at this difficult time.

  34. Joyce Bragg says:

    Thanks Jon. Your courage and honesty is going to help many victims who feel, unjustly, ashamed. I applaud your bravery.

  35. Maggie says:

    Jon, well done for a superb article and finding the strength to tell your story. So many have said (wrongly) about jumping on the Savile bandwagon but I disagree totally. People have carried the stigma and shame of being abused over many years before stepping out of the dark and speaking out. It shows strength and self belief. Those who have never been abused are lucky to never know what it feels like.

  36. Roe says:

    While our society has made leaps and bounds in the fight against child abuse since the decades when Saville was most active, I believe we are still in denial of the extent of abuse across our society. Statistics show us that as much as 25% of all pornography online involves under 18’s and as many as 1 in 4 to 6 children are sexually abused before their eighteenth birthday. It’s clear with such terribly high number that it isn’t a rare few soulless “monsters” or “predators” behind the abuse, it’s Dave down the road with a wife and 2 kids. If we’re serious about tackling child abuse we need to drop the hysteria and look at the root cause of why people do these horrific things instead of denying there’s a problem by pretending that abusers are somehow inhuman and different from us.

  37. Angry Grandparent says:

    Jon, will you speak out though about the not fit for purpose system known as Child protection in this country?

    Social services are adopting children at an alarming rate and for the slightest of transgressions, we are seeing social workers hand in hand with tame judges, literally deny children and their families true justice.

    I, like so many thousands of families out there have a tale of horror that people just do not believe could happen in this day and age, we are talking about corrupt, unregulated, no public scrutiny on these workers who many times are making it up on the spot, armed with their “tame ” experts, their “tame” judges children are being abused by being removed from their loved ones and that is the crime of this country of all crimes.

    Please Jon, help us fight these criminals, expose them, bring justice to the children out there.

  38. Jayneen Sanders says:

    Thank you so very much for this blog. As a community of parents and educators we must also not forget our current generation of young children. Sexual abuse prevention education is paramount. As the author of the children’s book Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept, instructing our young children in ‘body safety’ need not be difficult or threatening. It can be non-confronting and the positive is… knowledge is powerful!

  39. karen crossett says:

    Thank you for this. It is a reminder of old days and old abusive standards. But there does seem to be significant change happening, not just playing lip service to it, but if the church and saville can get away with it for so long we need to be ever vigilant – speak our truth and listen to the truth of others.

  40. B Canham says:

    I applaud you for speaking out.

    However, nothining changes, everyone is horrified by such acts, but unless it involves a number of people raising concerns about an institution or individul, people only tut and ignore, it takes too many years for anyone to listen then its a witch hunt and the images like Saville are flashed over and over again, how must the victims feel?

    Today the family courts, judges, police and social services allow such abuse to continue, they remove children from parents who have reported abuse, ignore the childs doctor etc and give full custody to the offending parent; the judge puts a gagging order on those parents who try to protect their child/children. The abused child is silenced by the judge and social services by not supporting them but allowing the abuser to lie and control them.

    No child should have to experience what you did Mr Snow, you were lucky, someone intervened, so many don’t and more allow a child to remain in danger.

  41. Sharon says:

    Thank you for writing this. For me, too, press coverage of sexual abuse and harassment allegations has stirred up unpleasant memories, and I, too, am worried about the possibility of a witch-hunt which could hurt survivors of abuse as well as those accused of committing it.

  42. James says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this experience Jon. You manage to convey a complex range of issues and emotions in such a delicate and thoughtful fashion.

    The feelings of guilt and confusion seem to be a common trend with experiences of this nature. By highlighting them in a public way, you do much to help those facing such issues. Individuals can feel that they are not alone or in anyway ‘strange’ for the varied and challenging reactions they will experience as a result of such incidents.

  43. Steve says:

    I am pretty certain that the headmaster of the school concerned would have dealt with the perpetrator, though I doubt Jon would have been told of it. The difficulty is that in those days it would not have stopped the perpetrator having contact with children elsewhere. Whatever the drawbacks of the current criminal records checks, it is a step in the right direction.

  44. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    it is a right, just and a social repsonsibility that youngsters are protected from these deviants. Angry grandparent . I can also back up your story , that there is much smoke without fire . Some are trying to score points with hot issues and make families suffer for there wrong allegations.

    We have a long way to go :whilst children are being accredited with the truth of such assaults , adults are being called liars or sent to psychiatrists or discredited in their professional lives for attempting to tell the truth.
    We have to thank a collective social conscience for the progress so far..long may it gain momentum.

    1. margaret brandreth-jones says:

      ‘Their’ wrong allegations of course………

  45. Ruth says:

    Dear Jon, your story has had a really positive impact on me. I too was abused by a stranger at the age of six. I felt so proud that someone like you could admit to this publicly. It made me feel more confident somehow, that someone who has achieved what you have is ok about speaking out your story, with dignity, compassion and anger. Thank you. It gives me courage and resolve.

  46. CBG says:

    @ Bryn Gerard – The last time there was a study supported with lie detectors, (as reported in The Seduction of Children by Christiane Sanderson, 2004) – three out of ten child abusers were abused as children **and were telling the truth about it** Three out of ten is not the majority by anyone’s measure.

    I’m sure that the other 70% say that they were abused purely to try to get a lighter sentence when caught.

    Since this research is closer to fact than the myth you posted, hopefully the moderators will allow it.

  47. Meg Howarth says:

    ‘Music schools, parliament, the church, the media, allegations are flying around the corridors of virtually every institution in Britain’. But let’s not forget that the family is the biggest institutional risk to children. That is where most sexual – not to mention emotional – abuse occurs, the place where our children are most vulnerable.

    The subsequent silence around your own experience as a little boy must have been agonising, Jon, as bad, possibly worse than the incident itself. I feel for you – as a mother to your then-uncomprehending six-year-old self fumbling with your braces – I see a confused little boy trying so hard I want to reach out to comfort him – and as a child myself from a silent, emotional desert of a background.

    ‘We face some delicate balances in which the welfare of many is at stake’ – a simple, profound statement with which we should temper any hasty opinions we’re tempted to make. We mustn’t forget that sexual abusers were once themselves babies/children. If we’re to end sexual exploitation and abuse we must seek to understand why some people become abusers. To condemn is easy, changing behaviour, more difficult. And as some recent cases have shown, women, too, can be abusers.

    Let us hope that the swathe of allegations/revelations swirling around the Establishment institutions does indeed mark ‘a hopefully departing age’ and the beginning of a new era. Sexual abuse is bad enough; emotional abuse often worse.

    This is a good time to be alive. With our inter-connectedness, we can all help make that better future in which children receive the love and support that will determine the kind of adults they become.

  48. anon says:

    reply to F. Mannion
    It is a disgrace that it was not resolved that is why I blogged. Anonymously because this is a situation that causes wide spread animosity. Many women will inform you that to perform better or contradictory to a male can be very difficult and incur even more harassment.[part of the problem in this instance]
    Assertiveness was not a problem in this case but when all doors are closed there is little one can do. I reported the problem, requested a move but nothing was done.The rest I have written about. I am an older person , and not as strong as I was . At least it has generated an awareness of what can happen. I did not go to the police because I believed that my union would support. So saying even if I had consulted the police male chauvinism seems to be rife.When I requested disability payments I was turned down despite the diagnosis.As for helping others what advice could I give that would help. i have worked in an assertive profession all my life, but reliving this has not been easy. Hopefully there will be changes .

  49. anon says:

    I have not mentioned the details but I may write about it all one day. Except that I like to move on and enjoy life.

  50. Meg Howarth says:

    As if on cue – it emerges that senior then-Liberals knew about Cyril Smith child-abuse allegations


    No wonder Nick Clegg now admits that rumours about Rennard’s sex-pesting behaviour contributed to latter’s removal from (whatever) senior post he held at the time he stood down for ‘health reasons’!

    The lying-machine that is party-political PR insults us all. Getting shut of it must form part of that ‘hopefully departing age’ which Jon so eloquently invokes. A new era demands a new politics. That there’s something rotten in the state of Westminster has once again been exposed. Question: shouldn’t ‘Lord’ Rennard stand down as a(n unelected) UK legislator pending the outcome of the inquiries in to his behaviour?

  51. Matt says:

    Thanks Jon, for sharing this, and by doing so contributing to an atmosphere of openess and courage by which abuse can be both acknowledged and processed from the past, and also confronted and defeated in the present.

  52. anon says:

    NB. Two blogs about inflammatory situations regarding harassment and abuse. Yesterday my emails were hacked, my online banking turned inside out. I spent all morning on the phone to banks, police and fraud departments.

    I was unable to attend a pre planned lecture . all doors are closed and that is not the only incident. It leaves me drained. When I was not anonymous the situation was worse.

  53. Vivansamn says:

    Thank you for this blog post Jon. I hope you are right in saying that we are reaching a turning point, and that from now on we might be able to talk about these issues in a way which could be productive and helpful to all of us who have been victims of abuse and sexual assault.

    Maybe language is a part of the problem here-? (and I am aware that I myself have used the phrase ‘these issues’ as a euphemism in this post). Maybe we need to start using the correct terms for sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape, as we would about any other kind of criminal behaviour.

  54. Lady says:

    I am like many others here John, I think it’s incredibly brave that you have shared your story, I know that I am getting stronger in not protecting my abuser. Its a hard thing to admit it happened and also for it to be a member of my family I trusted. I’m not sure things are changing, with Jury’s not convicting, on he said, she said evidence. Whereas you bring it up in mainstream media, and people are clear that the victim has no reason to lie.
    Actual justice in the courts though feel like a faraway reality.
    I say this because this summer my sister is taking our Uncle to court to answer for his sexual abuse over 25 years ago.. will Juries even care? I was a juror for 4 months, so I have an idea of what they are like.

  55. corneilius says:


    It’s less a question of sexuality, than it is a question of Power. The sexual behaviours being discussed is a medium for that Power.

    Bureaucracies and Institutions are imbued with Power, and with funding, and often they seek to maintain both at the expense of those who have been abused by individuals operating on behalf of that Bureaucracy or Institution, or operating within, or under the guise of that Bureaucracy or Institution. They will protect themselves, and in so doing, protect the abusive people within their structures. So too individuals imbued with Power.

    The only way to address this in the long term is to look at where genuine empathy and care are missing, and ask those questions as to WHY this is so. What are the roots of the loss of empathy? Both at the personal and Societal level.

    Without caring empathy, those who hold Power, be they parents, teachers, priests, policemen, politicians, CEOs, bosses, partners, etc etc etc will always attempt to mitigate any harms caused, crisis manage exposure (the crisis being the exposure and not the actual harms caused) to protect their status and image.

    Honesty is required as a fundamental approach to examining this issue. Punishment tends to be a form of revenge, rather than an attempt to make Society truly safe, and our justice system is not keen on admitting this.

    It stands divorced from known psychological data about child development, information on how the situation can drive humans to behave in adverse ways and how we can develop those qualities that resist such situational drivers of behaviour.

    Most Survivors (I prefer that word to the oft used word in the mainstream media ‘victim’) seek to bring their stories out to PREVENT more abuse rather than to seek punishment. There is a great gifting in this, and Survivors have profound insights which are yet to be given widespread coverage in these stories as they emerge.

  56. Patricia Kilgannon says:

    Many thanks for the brave sharing of your story Jon – helping shed the shame and guilt of all abuse victims.

  57. Chris says:

    This is the first time i have ever spoken in public.

    To this day, not all victims of institutional serious sexual abuse is taken seriously. The fact is, In my particular case anyway, that after 40 year of keeping the things that happened to me while in NHS care in the early 70’s, a secret, ‘coming out’ has been much more painful than it was while remaining quite. The fact that i am believed makes the agony much worse.

    In 2013, what does it say about a system that choose to ‘cover up a victims 40 year agony ‘ because the bigger picture would be a national outcry?

    I am one person that truly wishes that they had remained quite.

    1. chess says:

      I am so sorry that you’re having to go through this pain, Chris. I understand what you mean. I don’t have the words that will make things right for you, I wish I did, just know that you’re not on your own, that’s scant comfort, I realise.

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