Although the things that caused me hurt in my childhood are not directly relevant to the political hoo haa that’s eating up Twitter at the moment (Jamie Briggs – MP going way too far), the general idea of those in power doing the wrong thing to someone they have power over, is the same. The reason for the lapses in life’s niceties was the same – drunkenness. That wasn’t an excuse when I was a child, and it isn’t now. Drinking too much is a choice made by a person. No-one forced my abuser to drink too much and abuse me. He chose to get drunk, and did it.

No-one in these circumstances was forced to drink too much. There was the option to behave well instead of behaving like an animal. That option should always be the one adhered to especially when you are in a position of power over the one you are dealing with. And with sexual advances, overt acceptance is always required. If the other person isn’t obviously open to your advances, forget about it.

In my poetry collection “damaged children, Precious Gems”, I have a poem that looked at some of these themes. It is from the “Teenage Years” section of the collection, and the relevant poem is titled ‘bragging rights’, and it talks about the difference between how males and females are referred to by their peers where sex is concerned. The young men are heroes with their mates, the young women are labelled sluts by those same young men. Here are the relevant lines:

there’s a line between hero

and slut. It’s a fine line, a very fine line

and it’s gender specific

 

It certainly looks like the ‘hero’ label was placed on or sought by Briggs, in this instance, and I wonder whether the woman would have been labelled slut if the woman had done the same thing. Either way, it was inappropriate behaviour, and the most appropriate label for Briggs over this would be ‘zero not hero’. Let your brain do your thinking, and things will go much better. Dicks aren’t known for their thinking powers.

When I was a teenager, girls who ‘put out’ were labeled like this, and now, many years later they still are labeled in this way. The boys are heroes if they have a conquest, the girls sluts, and the issue of consent is largely irrelevant to some in society. Victim blaming is rampart, and abuse is ignored is down-played as ‘bad behaviour’.

This seems wrong to me, and is wrong in the law. Why are such things accepted by so many people? Is our society really that ignorant that sexual abuse can be accepted as ‘boys being boys’ and so is OK? I don’t think it is, and I think it should be treated as what it is, sexual abuse.

Thoughts from others on this matter are welcome, as always.

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The person who first sexually abused me when I was a child has been dead for a long time now. The effects of that abuse still rattle around in the back of my mind though, coming out to the forefront of my thoughts occasionally. When a child has their confidence in the safety of their home, or home substitute is abused. they may find it difficult to feel safe anywhere again.

I am currently hearing stories about institutional abuse by teachers, preachers and others in positions of power over children. This abuse is appalling to hear about/read about, and I wish wasn’t having it put up there on the TV screen, on the radio or in the newspapers. But it’s happening, and having the stories taken out of my view, but still occurring would be an awful things still.

It’s necessary for society to hear about such things, and it’s necessary for offenders, when found, to be properly punished. This punishment cannot stop the event from having happened, but it can work toward building up trust again, and life can move toward a safer inner place, perhaps. When stories of abuse are told, and believed, it can hearten those abused, that their own story may begin to be believed to.

This telling of personal stories, and sharing them with people who truly understand, because they have a similar story, is an important thing. Women’s groups, where the abused people feel safe enough to share with others is a great thing. Dwelling on the pain is not going to help an abused person, but sharing stories, understanding the true one or ones to blame, these can lead to a better mind-set for a person.

picture jen 013_edited

(image by Pauline Edmunds from cover of my book, “damaged children, Precious Gems”)

I am not a counsellor. I don’t put myself forward as one who has looked into the causes and consequences of abuse in a broad ranging way. I am a survivor though, one who has moved from victim to survivor, and I want to help other people to do the same. Being a victim is not a good thing, but being a survivor is great!


This Royal Commission is bringing out so many stories of abuse in Australia, and I hope there is healing for the now adults who were victims of Child Abuse in institutions. Schools and teachers would be the place where children learn the things they should know to move on in life, toward adulthood.

Learning about sex and self-hatred, abuse of office and the ripping up of usual cultural norms of protecting children, these are not things children should be learning at school. When those ‘in charge’ are involved in abuse, both physical abuse, mental abuse, and sexual abuse, then the lessons learned by students are not the lessons set out in the school curriculum.

It was a brave thing for the then Prime Minister of Australia to do, but Julia Gillard did it, and many victims are now able to gain a forum to finally tell their story and have actions taken against the ones who abused them. This ‘telling their story’ issue is an important one. Many children who have been abused have tried to tell of their abuse, but been ignored, or called liars. To finally be able to speak out, to those who will listen and take action when and if necessary can be a wonderful thing.

When an adult has had such terrible things done to them, things that those in charge should have a role in protecting them from, but in fact do the complete opposite thing, that can be an emotionally crippling thing. Speaking out is a fine thing, but there can be costs there too. Speaking out can bring back to mind things that have been hidden away, and these things can certainly hurt.

Speaking out or writing about these things can be the only thing that can help an abuse person. I have found the writing of poetry and ‘fiction’ has been useful to me. Being able to write down some of the many issues abuse can bring with it ways to ‘deal with’ things, when before, the one abused felt absolutely unable to do anything at all. The writing of my poetry collection ‘Damaged Children Precious Gems’ was a positive step for me from being a victim of child abuse, to being a survivor. Sharing this book with others has brought some relief and understanding for them too.

I hope there are adequate avenues for the further protection of all of these brave people who are stepping up and telling their stories. The website for the Royal Commission has links to appropriate groups. If you are suffering and need help because of these issues, please seek the help you need.

A first avenue for the seeking of help may be something as simple as talking to other people about it. This can be confronting, but I know from personal experience that the relief from finally talking about this abuse can have good and healing effects. Hiding dark things inside yourself is not a good thing to do. Please find ways to talk with others who care and can help you, whether simply by listening as you talk, or by helping you to take further action.

There are people in the world who care about you. Please always believe that.

Mr Mem Fox Makes Me Sick

December 12, 2011


I found out today that Mem Fox’s husband is refusing to pay the $10000 criminal injuries compensation claim to his victim.

If you don’t know about this awful offence committed against a student by Fox when he was the boy’s teacher, some of the details are here.

This case sickens me and I feel almost ill when I remember the times I’ve read the books of Mem Fox, and read words to my son when he was a young child. I know it’s the husband who committed this awful abuse of his position of power over a student, but I still think it’s disgusting.

I can imagine terrible scenes where Fox used his position as the spouse of this much loved writer for children, and it makes me sick. I hope that one day this victim, Craig, is able to find a kind of peace. I hope one day Malcolm Fox realises the terrible thing he has done, and acknowledges his guilt.

The courts found him guilty and gave him a suspended sentence. I think it’s time he was made to realise what an awful thing he has done. I don’t always agree with locking people up in prison, but I think this time it should be done.

Will he get away with this, or will his dual position as the husband of the beloved Mem Fox and father of the South Australian MP Chloe Fox get him off? Another terrible miscarriage of justice.