Monday, 18th April 2022
Where is the support for the survivor of Child Sex Abuse?
I am no politician or even hugely political, but I am someone who understands rules, consequences, and leadership. Like many people, I work hard, dig deep and stand with strong morals and beliefs.
Recently in the news, we have heard of yet another case of Child Sex Abuse and again by someone in a public office position, which assumes qualities of trust and decent morals.
Imran Ahmad Khan MP was convicted of Child Sex Assault on 11th April 2022 and awaits sentencing. But does he have any idea what he has done? Is he purely focused, deliberately or otherwise, on his reputation? His image. His career. His legacy and the pain and embarrassment he has brought to the door of his friends and family.
Does he have any idea what he has done – to the victim? The young boy he assaulted. Where is the consideration for that victim’s life?
As an advocate for survivors of Child Sex Abuse, I take my role seriously and, with my own eyes, see the catastrophic damage and fall-out that being abused as a child brings. My work in this space means I do a lot of listening, learning and reading. Naturally, I respect every survivor story I hear with the same empathy as the next because I can appreciate what it means to be heard, believed and listened to. I have seen the life-changing hand grenades that follow the vile, selfish acts of child sex abusers, leaving millions of broken survivors in their wake.
In my 2021 TEDx talk titled “It’s not just the strangers we should be careful of”, I shared this quote “once you have been sexually abused as a child, your life changes forever; you don’t live the ‘normal’ that others talk about and will never know what this means”.
It is hard for anyone who hasn’t been abused to understand the realities that face survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Most survivors themselves have no clue what they will have to face either until they reach young adulthood and begin to understand the enormity of what has happened to them – which is why I dig deep most days on the subject. The more knowledge we can share in this conversation, the better the support and empathy for those struggling in silence. My eternal hope is that women and men begin to feel more comfortable talking openly about child sex abuse, whether as a survivor or an ally. These uncomfortable conversations need to be shared.
It’s gut-wrenching watching survivors of child sexual abuse struggle with the fall-out of being abused as a child – it’s a monumental moment when the penny drops and with it a reality of a mountain in front of them.
As innocent children, they had their whole life in front of them to enjoy. But as young adult survivors, they begin to realise what has happened to them, and as maturity takes hold, that earlier reality begins to eat away.
Shame, fear, and embarrassment prevent survivors from speaking out about the traumatic events of being abused. Slowly and surely, they begin to face many complex situations and mental health difficulties. Many survivors must dig deep daily, dealing with various disorders they suddenly face, whilst in parallel living with a horrid sense of feeling dirty and even guilty. Being abused as a child never leaves you, and even though time allows you to put different and more positive twists on the darker times, every corner turned can provide traumatic reminders, perhaps due to a simple smell, sound, or conversation.
Dawn Walton, Therapist and Brain Reprogrammer, told me that “our brains don’t fully develop until into our mid-twenties, so it is no surprise that it takes a while for us to catch up, mature, digest, understand, process and get help”.
The complexities circling survivors of child sex abuse are off the scale. As children, they had their innocence ruthlessly stripped from them by their abuser, and now the silence of their abuser, together with the silence of the world they inhabit on the conversation of child sex abuse, causes great suffering. Abused children often become broken adults, finding themselves facing new battles of survival each day. And no one tells you that you might actually like your abuser – another dark conversation when you factor in that most child abuse is committed by people the victim knows. It’s a frightening conundrum when the victim can be taught that they must like, love and respect their perpetrator.
In the darkness of this abyss, survivors must face many struggles, insecurities, and fear every day. They must exist, parent and work. Most survivors just surf through life, going through the emotions and riding waves until they break and then are forced to deal with their situation.
Rarely do survivors of child sex abuse get the necessary support, love and empathy from those around them and even worse, when a case like Imran Ahmad Khan’s hits the news, the focus is on the abuser NOT the survivor.
Survivors struggle to speak out or are fearful that even if they did tell someone, they wouldn’t be believed. Furthermore, an abuser can be excellent at portraying themselves as innocent – drawing on positive connections and reputations built a long way from the evil undercurrent of their sordid reality.
Zero consideration for the consequences of a child sex abuse victim only serves to compound the silent trauma that they must live in. Sadly, survivors often carry their abusers’ secret forever, allied with a feeling of humiliation – leading to struggles around relationships – especially trust.
Of course, no child asks to be sexually abused as a child. They weren’t given a choice on whether it was ok to be violated and degraded. They just went along with it, because of the trust they had in that person, their abuser – which is why educating young people on healthy relationships continues to be key in reducing child sex abuse.
Perpetrators, on the other hand, would never want to talk about the times they violated a young child. They are very clever, indulging in good relationships with their peers, family, colleagues and friends. They often live normal lives with no one suspecting them to be living the wretched life that they do. Never once have I heard a perpetrator confess to understanding the broken life that they have bestowed on their victims, which turns just the abhorrent into selfishly abhorrent.
With all things considered, survivors rarely get many chances to succeed in life due to their mental health difficulties. Not many survivors will get second chances to succeed (and I don’t mean monetary), and not all survivors can engage in professional support because of waiting lists, finances and also fear! They rely heavily on the NHS talking therapies/counselling to help them, but with such long waiting lists, many drop off the radar sooner than expected with no further action.
Being sexually abused as a child doesn’t come with rules; it comes with a trail of uncertainty, trauma, pain, mental health difficulties, night terrors, addictions, disorders, paranoia….the list is long.
When Imran Ahmad Khan was convicted by a jury of ‘Child Sex Assault’ on the 11th April 2022, the survivor of the assault in 2008 was a boy, aged 15. Khan was expelled from his Wakefield Conservative Party with immediate effect and has since resigned from being an MP – which of course, was the right thing for him to have done.
But more worryingly and probably more importantly, why wasn’t he removed before he resigned?
As I understand it, zero tolerance in this context means we do not tolerate ‘any’ bad behaviour. It also means there are consequences if you step over the line.
When it comes to Khan and ‘child sex abuse’ allegations, the House of Commons should surely be stepping up to expel him as soon as the conviction becomes official. That didn’t happen, and whilst I’m no legal expert, this is not a comfortable situation.
No consideration for the victim – child sex abuse survivors need much better acknowledgement and protection than this.
I don’t care who you are, what you do or why you do it – if you sexually violate anyone, you leave your position immediately – government or otherwise.
My biggest disappointment, however, was that no one has stepped up to offer their deepest respect or even sympathy for the young boy sexually assaulted by Khan. I find this appalling. Khan’s statement simply expresses his self-sorrow, hurt, embarrassment, etc. So what? What about consideration for the victim?
Child sexual assault is not taken seriously enough. In 2019 on LBC Radio, Boris Johnson said, “I think an awful lot of money and an awful lot of police time now goes into these historic offences and all this malarkey. You know, £60m I saw was being spaffed up a wall on some investigation into historic child abuse and all this kind of thing. What on earth is that going to do to protect the public now?”
How insulting. How ignorant.
How can any leader suggest that investigating child sex abuse is a waste of time and money? I am sure the young lad who was assaulted by a member of the Conservative Party doesn’t feel this way, nor does any victim. But like I said, you can’t understand the trauma of a victim unless you are one. However, you can be aware and, in doing so, rid your ignorance.
How on earth do we expect anyone to lean in, listen and show empathy when we have leaders saying such foul things about child sex abuse? The Prime Minister might argue that his comments were out of context – then provide context; provide the very safety net of consideration that would allow victims to at least start a road to partial normality.
The Khan case has been handled in a very casual manner. Khan violated a young boy whose life is not going to be ‘the normal that other people talk about’ (ref. my TED Talk’. I don’t want child sex abusers to be in positions of responsibility anywhere.
The only person to have spoken about the Khan case was Crispin Blunt MP. But he didn’t choose to offer his consideration for the survivor of Khan’s sexual assault on him. Crispin chose to tweet a message of support for his convicted Child Sex Abuser colleague. Crispin said on Twitter before the conviction that “he was utterly appalled and distraught at the dreadful miscarriage of justice”. He went on to say that “it was an international scandal, and hoped for the return of Imran Ahmad Khan to the public service that had exemplified his life to date”.
Crispin has since retracted his tweet and posted, apologising that ‘he does not condone any type of abuse’. Thanks Crispin. Your robotic, almost cliched backtrack is of no help, other than to yourself. Apart from leaving people wondering why on earth you would post a comment so vehemently supportive prior to trial conclusion; even when found guilty, it’s clearly still a step too far to apologise to the victim and recognise the hell they’ll now live with – zero consideration.
My voice might not mean anything to the political world, but it does mean a lot to the unheard survivors struggling to live. Those that are having to live anonymously because they spoke out and are receiving threats, and the many suffocated by the silence on this topic.
There are never winners when it comes to child sex abuse. There are no wild ‘survivor’ parties when the perpetrator goes to prison – it doesn’t work this way.
In my opinion, survivors need to be better considered before, during and after any case they take forward, and perpetrators need to face zero-tolerance punishments.
World leaders need to step up, share their solidarity for the millions of people broken from child sex abuse and offer better support, packages and care.
We have a long way to go on this conversation. People outside the child sex abuse circle have a lot to learn, understand and respect.
No child ever asked to be sexually abused.
Somewhere in the world right now, a child is being sexually abused by someone they know.
©Emma-Jane Taylor 2022 for ManDad Magazine, all rights reserved.
Image Credit: Laurie Fletcher
Written by Emma-Jane Taylor
CPS – Press Release:
MP convicted of sexual offence against boy
11 April 2022
An MP has been convicted of committing a sexual offence on a boy in 2008.
A jury trying Imran Ahmad Khan MP, 48, at Southwark Crown Court have today found him guilty of a sexual assault.
The assault took place in January 2008 when Khan was 34 years old and prior to him becoming an MP. Khan tried to force the 15-year-old to drink alcohol before sexually assaulting him in a house in Staffordshire. The boy immediately told his parents about the sexual assault.
A report was made to Staffordshire Police at the time, but the victim decided he did not want to proceed. When he saw that that Khan had been elected as the Member of Parliament for Wakefield he decided to pursue the complaint as he was concerned that Khan was not fit to be in public office given what he had done.
Rosemary Ainslie, Head of CPS Special Crime Division, said: “Imran Ahmad Khan MP has been convicted today for the sexual assault of a boy in 2008. It took considerable courage for the victim to come forward in 2008 and again in 2019.
“As is the case with many victims of sexual assault, out of a sense of embarrassment, the victim was not initially able to disclose all the details of what had happened. In subsequent interviews with the police he was able to tell investigators more about what had taken place and I am pleased that the jury have accepted the victim’s compelling evidence about the offence committed by Khan.
“We continue to urge all victims of sexual assault to come forward so justice can be served.”
Imran Ahmad Khan was found guilty of sexual assault, contrary to section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. ManDad Media Ltd. recognises the impact of childhood sexual assault and abuse. If you have been affected by this story, visit https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/help-after-rape-and-sexual-assault/ for information on where to go and who to contact. To respond to this story or to tell us one of your own, contact email@example.com and title your message with #Story .
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