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Stephen Fry: Mind responds to Fry's comments about sexual abuse survivors pitying themselves

 Fry is the President of the mental health charity 

Heather Saul
Tuesday 12 April 2016 14:37 BST
Stephen Fry criticised after suggesting sexual abuse survivors should not 'pity' themselves

The mental health charity Mind has said it will be speaking to its President Stephen Fry after the comedian and actor sparked a huge backlash by suggesting sexual abuse survivors should stop pitying themselves and “grow-up“.

Fry, who recently quit Twitter after controversially joking that costume designer Jenny Beavan looked like a “bag lady”, was discussing his views on free-speech, censorship, safe-spaces and trigger warnings during an appearance on the US current events talk show The Rubin Report.

“There are many great plays which contain rapes, and the word rape now is even considered a rape,” he said.

“They’re terrible things and they have to be thought about, clearly, but if you say you can’t watch this play, you can’t watch Titus Andronicus, or you can’t read it in a Shakespeare class, or you can’t read Macbeth because it’s got children being killed in it, it might trigger something when you were young that upset you once, because uncle touched you in a nasty place, well I’m sorry.

“It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place – you get some of my sympathy – but your self-pity gets none of my sympathy because self-pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity.

“Get rid of it because no one’s going to like you if you feel sorry for yourself. The irony is we’ll feel sorry for you if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Grow up.”

His comments were branded ”irresponsible" and his attitude towards survivors of sexual abuse ”beyond contempt“ while a number questioned his claims about self-pity in light of his decision to leave Twitter angrily after being criticised for his ”bag lady“ remark.

Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan said he was concerned about Fry after the comments.

Mind responded to the fierce reaction on social media in a statement on Tuesday, which it posted on its website and Twitter page.

The charity said it understood why Fry's comments may have upset some and stressed that he was speaking in a personal capacity.

Their statement reads: “Abuse is incredibly serious and can have devastating consequences for survivors, particularly for their life-long mental health. We would urge anyone who has experienced abuse of any kind to reach out and seek support.

“We understand why some people may have been upset by Stephen Fry’s remarks in a recent American TV interview. Stephen was speaking in a personal context, giving his own views as part of a longer discussion on the subject of freedom of speech.

“As President of Mind, Stephen Fry has done a huge amount to raise awareness and understanding about bipolar disorder and other mental health problems. He has supported Mind in our campaigning activities over the last decade and has helped enormously to change public attitudes in the UK about mental health for the better.

“We will be speaking to Stephen to discuss the concerns our supporters have raised.”

The Independent has contacted a representative for Fry for comment.

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