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Abuse victims have suffered for too long

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 25/05/2016

While the number of victims runs into hundreds it is easy sometimes to forget that each one of those statistics is a human being who has been traumatised to a degree which most of us can never understand
While the number of victims runs into hundreds it is easy sometimes to forget that each one of those statistics is a human being who has been traumatised to a degree which most of us can never understand

The sexual abuse of children is among the most heinous of crimes. It is preying on the defenceless - often the voiceless - and leaving them with a past that blights their entire life.

Sadly, we have become far too accustomed to hearing of that past on this island - firstly, when the sins of the Catholic clergy were exposed and, more recently, through the work of the inquiry into historical abuse at children's homes here.

While the number of victims runs into the hundreds, it is sometimes easy to forget that behind the statistics are human beings who have been traumatised to a degree that the vast majority of us will never understand.

Read our interview today with the brave woman who as a child was repeatedly raped by two of her brothers to get a glimpse of the sheer pain that those who are abused are forced to deal with.

Her physical and mental trauma later left her lurching from one unsuitable relationship to another, until finally she found help to return back to something approaching normality.

What is most shocking about her account is that when she approached her mother and a priest for help, none was forthcoming. Indeed, the concern was that the scandal - actually, the crime - could become public knowledge.

It is that brick wall of an uncaring, unsympathetic or unwilling-to-believe society that the victims of historical abuse have had to contend with for far, far too long.

Even now as their plight is being exposed by the official inquiry, they still feel as if they are being fobbed off by people who can help them.

Such is their anger at the failure to compensate them for their pain that they plan to picket Stormont if the new Executive, to be announced today, does not set out its intentions on the issue in the Programme for Government.

It is difficult to understand the position of the DUP on this matter. The party says it will do nothing on compensation until the historical abuse inquiry's report is completed. But there have already been many cases where abuse was proved in the courts and others where it was officially documented.

There seems little reason why these people - as a first tranche - cannot be compensated immediately. The victims understandably must feel that officialdom is dragging its heels deliberately on this issue in the hope that it will wither away with time.

Belfast Telegraph

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