Two weeks ago, I wrote about the revelations surrounding Jimmy Savile and the culture of the 1970s.
Yesterday morning, on Twitter, I read a joke 'the 1970s has just been arrested'. As a girl growing up in Liverpool, I often heard the saying, 'many a true word said in jest' . You have to have grown up in the '70s to know how un-funny that joke is. You have to understand how prevalent and open abuse was.
Also yesterday, I heard that a high serving member of the government in the 1980s may have been involved in a pedophile ring. If this allegation has legs, if the name of the person is revealed, then there will be damage which will travel down a couple of decades and hit the party today.
Within 48hrs of the Jimmy Savile allegations hitting the headlines, his family had removed his gravestone – they knew the public backlash would, at the very least, probably result in its destruction. People had trusted Savile, they invest trust in a government too. Whereas people know that one man a government does not make, or indeed one person does not represent the behaviour of 650 others, there will be anger directed our way because we have an identity. There may be no gravestone to smash, but in Westminster, collectively, we are something a stick can be taken to.
A few weeks ago I commented that one good thing which could come out of the Jimmy Savile case would be that those who had been abused would have the confidence to come forward and disclose their own stories of abuse. It is a game of numbers. The more who disclose, the more will become confident enough to open up to share their own experience.
This week I spoke to someone who does have experience of abuse. We discussed the phenomena of silence. How when a young girl or boy has been abused,they remain totally silent. Nothing is the same for them again, childhood is effectively over, they experience huge misplaced guilt but still remain silent. Abusers know how this works and exploit it. Savile was almost totally confident, that along with this phenomea, using his position of trust to rebut allegations made by the few who did at the time disclose, meant he could continue to abuse with impunity.
Accusing someone of systematic child abuse is the most serious of allegations. A wrong allegation could destroy someone's life, reputation and career in a sentence. The problem is that for the large part, the evidence is down to the word of an individual. It is only when a group of individuals disclose and present a pattern of behaviour that the police can take the allegations to any form of conclusion. We live in a society, whereby guilt is proven by proof.
The unfolding scenario is that indeed, it appears that the seventies are being arrested – and so it should be. Posthumously, the TV personality and the government minister alike. However, It is worth remembering that most abusers, those with no profile, those who have slipped under the radar, will remain unaccountable. Those they abused remain scarred, with no justice or retribution and so who can blame them when they turn their anger towards those who have been named and shamed. By association, sadly, if the accusations against a former minister are true, some of that may come our way.