Letters: Time to draw a line under historic sex abuse

These letters appear in the 2nd March issue of The Independent

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I am a survivor of “historic” sexual abuse and agree with Mary Dejevsky (“After Savile, it’s time to stop digging back into historic abuse”, 27 February) that maybe it is time to focus on the sexual abuse that is happening here and now and to draw a line under the events of 30, 40 or 50 years ago. 

I was abused by a Catholic priest when I was between 12 and 15, We are not talking kisses and fumbles here, but raw, invasive acts. Eventually, feeling suicidal, I told my parents everything. They immediately blamed me and rejected me. My father shouted at me and literally kicked me around the room.They carried on going to mass and receiving the Eucharist from the very same priest that abused me. To accept my version of events would have destroyed everything they understood.

I am now married with two children and a grandson, and only my wife and a few other people know anything about the abuse I suffered as a boy. I have flashbacks; I struggle; and I have had suicidal times, but I manage.

I went to university. I became a teacher. I then rarely thought about the abuse in the past. Then, when my son was about the same age that I was when I was abused it all came back and I fell into a kind of madness for a while.

In the end, after prompting from my wife, I contacted the Roman Catholic Church. I wrote a letter to Cardinal Basil Hume.

I only wanted the church to recognise and acknowledge the abuse. I wanted to be sure that the priest no longer had the opportunity to do to other boys what he had done to me. I wanted an apology as a way for me to make progress from the impasse that had overwhelmed me.

I was astonished when Cardinal Hume phoned me at home the following day. At the end of many meetings and discussions, I received a written apology from the priest who had abused me. I know that there are deep, long-standing issues with the Catholic church and historic abuse, but the Catholic Church in my case was supportive and helpful. At each stage, they asked if I wanted to take the matter to the police. At each stage, I said no.

I agree with Mary Dejevsky that, if there is a choice between the past and the present, then scarce, current resources should go towards pursuing abuse in the here and now.

Name and Address Supplied

 

What a brave feature by Mary Dejevsky.

As a 60-year-old woman who, as a child, was sexually abused for years by a neighbour, I am in total agreement with Mary Dejevsky. Not only would I not want to create damage and harm to surviving members of the abuser’s family, in particular his now 60-year-old son, who knew what was going on, but I see no value in seeking revenge at this stage in my life.

This man had been torpedoed twice in the war. I think he suffered enough.

Of course it was wrong. It was not my fault. It should not have happened.

Has it had an impact on my life? Yes, of course. But any damage it did has been removed and I have forgiven him. I decided to let it go and move on.

I have taken responsibility for my own feelings. Let’s move on and safeguard the children in our care now.

Name and Address Supplied

 

The people who really understand Russia

The West may well misunderstand Russia (Letters, 21 February), but Poland. Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and every other country anywhere near it certainly do not.

After 45 years of incompetent, brutally imposed government by the Soviet Union, preceded by centuries of acting as the last bulwarks of European civilisation against rampant Russian expansionism, all these countries want is the opportunity to have a little freedom, democracy, security and prosperity.

They know very well that they won’t get it from the continuingly incompetent, regressive and aggressive kleptocracy and mafia state that is modern Russia, a state which hides its failings towards its own people with imaginary western threats and an iron fist over any challenge to its Orwellian control of information and propaganda. Stalin would have been proud of it.

Jan Wiczkowski

Manchester

 

In order to get Russian agreement to German reunification, US Secretary of State James Baker undertook that Nato would not “leapfrog an inch eastward” if Russia would allow the wall to come down. The invitation to Ukraine to join Nato, issued seven years ago in Bucharest, broke that undertaking. 

In an interview with Der Spiegel, 10 January 2015, Mikhail Gorbachev said: “The expansion of the bloc in the east [of Europe] has destroyed the European security order which was written in the Helsinki Final Act of 1975.” 

On 2 February 2014, Henry Kissinger, in an interview with CCN, said: “I don’t know of any Russian, whether they are dissidents or pro-government, who does not consider Ukraine at least as an essential part of Russian history ... so the Russians cannot be indifferent to the future of Ukraine ... And it’s not in our interest to drive them into a beleaguered attitude where they feel they have to prove what they can do.”

Roger Gartland

London SE3

 

Landlords do well out of students

Richard Garner (28 February) makes the interesting observation – long ignored – that a huge financial burden on students comes from living costs. Fees are far from the only expense when studying, and billions of pounds are paid by the taxpayer to landlords.

It is reasonable to assume that past governments never bothered to ponder what housing market effects would follow vastly-increased student numbers. What is clear is that landlords have yet again benefited from government policy in an unrelated area. Perhaps Labour could turn their attention to the direct beneficiaries of university expansion, landlords, as well as to rich pensioners.

Alan Hallsworth

Waterlooville, Hampshire

 

In all the debate about Ed Miliband’s promise to cut university tuition fees from £9,000 per year to £6,000 no one appears to have raised the question “What tuition?”

In discussion with student friends it appears that there is a very wide range of tuition that is provided, largely depending on the subject you are studying. Medical students, for example, may be required to attend 20 hours per week, including lectures and individual tuition. My daughter, studying history, received four hours of tuition per week.

As a generalisation, it is likely that the medical student will go on to be a higher earner than the history student. Should there not be a scale of fees depending on the university you are attending, the number of hours of tuition that you will receive and the subject that you are studying?

Nick Maurice

Marlborough, Wiltshire

 

Your editorial on tuition fees (28 February) assumes that all students are young and with a profitable career ahead of them. I was fortunate when, at the age of 32 and with a mortgage, I did my teaching degree. Not only did I pay no fees but I also received a mature student grant. The idea of graduating with thousands of pounds of debt on top of my mortgage would have been sufficient for me to stay in my much better paid office job.

It is not surprising that education is facing a teacher shortage, when you add debt to performance-related pay which ignores the need for teachers to work in collaboration, not competition.

There is a case for certain essential graduates to pay no fees.

Jane Eades

London SW11

 

Stand up for engineers

I was disappointed to read the letter from Dr Ken Shuttleworth (28 February) saying that he had been misrepresented in the article in the issue of 25 February which reported his remarks about architects.

When I read the original article I thought immediately that at last someone had dared to say in public what engineers have been saying in private for years. Namely that “designers” draw a pretty picture and then give it to the engineers and say “Make this” regardless of how impractical their  ideas are.

Robin Luxmoore FIMechE

Middlesbrough

 

Danger! Man at work

On Friday (27 February) you published a chilling picture of Ed Balls apparently working on an “aircraft part”, much to the evident hilarity of Scots Labour leader Jim Murphy, also pictured. Is it possible to identify the part, and, more crucially, its intended destination, so that the travelling public can take appropriate evasive action?

Ian Bartlett

East Molesey, Surrey

 

What happened to venison?

Following Mark Hix’s “deer” recipes (Magazine, 28 February), can we soon expect others for cow and pig?

Harry Cowdy

Newent, Gloucestershire

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