Lifting A Veil…

Who was I? Who am I?
Bolshy. 16. World at my feet.
Or maybe it floated above.
Way above where the stars
Sparkle and the sun lights
And burns…

Here I am in the dead
Of the Eastern night.
A wild world.
Exotic. Exciting.
Drowning in the depth?
Riding high on the thrill?

Duck down,
Hide behind the glass,
Be silent,
Be invisible,
You exist,
But don’t.

Vulnerable. Definitely vulnerable.
But oh, so, bolshy.
A fountain of words explodes
Forthright.
Before being hung from a noose.
Life.
Squeezed.

Caught between cultures
We fight for…
Useless.

Power of the mob
Rules above all.
Rebel. Rebel. Rebel.
Deeper. Deeper.
Where am I? Who am I?

A new mob
A dangerous mob…
Wits.
Escape.

Of course. My fault. I could be dead.

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A Small Tale: Abuse, Support and the “System” – Part Two

Deep breaths.

It took me a while to get over part one.

So, the dream house. I was fairly destroyed by the fact I had to go back to work so early after having my baby because of financial issues. It was a kick in the gut every time he spent the equivalent on his crap. But, the dream house would change this.

It should have been tricky to get a mortgage but it was boom time. We moved in and played happy families. I became pregnant again. I miscarried again. It became clear that nothing had changed; that the drinking was still  continuing and was taking a new turn. I took the decision not to get pregnant until he sorted his act out. Despite how often I reiterated that we could not afford the house and him drinking and smoking, he didn’t change. Now there was a pub across the road. Each evening consisted of, “I’m just popping to the shop”, then he’d return in the middle of the night steaming drunk. We  really couldn’t afford the house.  I wasn’t going to bring another child into this. Predictably the bills started piling up.

So I borrowed money. Yes. I borrowed it as no one would lend him any. On my part time low wage it was ridiculous the amount of money they would lend me. The debts continued piling up. The drinking continued.

Eventually it stopped as he wanted another child. Or, I thought it stopped. A few weeks pregnant it was clear that alcoholism was still there. On and on it went.  Debt went deeper and deeper. The misery and the regret built higher and higher.

Another droplet of poison. My second pregnancy was agony. There was a problem with my back and hips and from very early on, I was on crutches, unable to walk any great distance. I struggled with my toddler; at this point I was unaware that he had Asperger’s. Bedtime was always difficult. Trying to carry him to bed, getting him settled. Zero support. In agony, I ended up stuck on the landing. The help I got? Accusations, verbal abuse, disbelieving what I was going through. Get on with it. Buggering off to the pub. Bastard.

Time went on. My daughter was born. The night I was in hospital, my son stayed with his grandparents. He couldn’t even take the responsibility of looking after his first born for one night. Things happened with his work. It’s not relevant here. He got injured. Money was rapidly become a desperate issue. There was no way I could even begin to pay back £25000 debt or continue with a £100000 mortgage.

Family too, noticed things. They’d comment on his habits, on the money being spent. We often had to turn to his parents for top ups. Everyone looked down their nose at us. Before I’d left work to have my second child, I remember people frowning about how often he rang. He would call me incessantly to “see how I was”.  I spoke to them about some things that were happening. I don’t really remember their response, I think it was along the lines of telling me their problems.  But I do remember feeling isolated, feeling people would judge me and there wasn’t anyone to just discuss it all with.

I did not want the stigma. My parents had been divorced. This wasn’t happening to my kids.  I decided to stick at it for them.

Another horrid, disgusting droplet has just reformed. At some point whilst living at that house, we were visited by a friend’s teenage daughters and a friend of theirs who lived down the road. They came a couple of times. Then things changed. Clearly the friend had a ‘thing’ for him. He would have been about 38…she under 16. She became hostile towards me in my own home. She was hanging around late at night, waiting for me to go to bed. I had to spell it out straight for her and ridiculously for him.  He could not see what was happening…or maybe he could, that worries me now. What if he would have been willing to go there?

So I was suffering. I was unhappy. However, I was able to protect my children from what was happening. I kept him away from them when he was drunk. I did everything myself. To be honest he was often absent in the evening anyway. I had to give it my all, explore every avenue so if we didn’t make it, I could tell my children that I had honestly tried everything.

I started looking for other places to live, places that were much cheaper.  If we could buy another house, in an area with cheaper house prices, we could pay off the debts and have a fresh start. Somewhere, where no one knew us. I would no longer have to battle to hold my head high. I would never have to wish the ground would just swallow me up. So we left for the valleys in South Wales. He’d lined up work. We found a house. We were off.

It seems this is a good place to leave part two as it is after this that things spiralled quickly downwards. But before I do, what of the “support” and “system” parts of my tale?

In terms of support, I think my mum recognised the signs but probably didn’t know what to do or how to handle it then. She didn’t want to drive me away which she could see was happening whenever she made comment. Friends didn’t understand. Why would they? I did feel very alone.

Another random drop of poison. A huge argument between him and one of my sisters. I have blocked out the cause of it. I may pluck up the courage soon to ask her if she remembers. But what I do remember, was him going behind my back about something. He’d waited for me to go to bed before phoning her and being incredibly abusive. My mum and other sisters were fuming and I got stuck in the middle. He denied an awful lot of things. He lied through his teeth. It’s so obvious to me now. As time went by, I discovered he was a compulsive liar (hence my trust issues). It is so upsetting now, remembering that I did not know who to believe when it was crystal clear that it should have been my sister. Still I stood by him. Fool. In my mind it only strengthened the need to move away to a new area, away from my family.

My marriage was certainly turning rotten but that happened to lots of people. I’ve recently seen information about signs of an abusive relationship that had I seen them then, would have set the alarm bells ringing loud and clear. If friends had seen it, I think they’d have recognised it too.  There is just a lack of education and knowledge about it. The topics are taboo. As a teacher, I know they are still taboo. It’s just something you don’t talk about. Hence the reason I worried about writing this or how others would react if they found out I’d written it.

As for the system. The obvious systems probably had no chance of finding anything out.  I was good at keeping it away from my children and any experts. However, there were things that kept me “in my place”. He constantly criticised me, made me feel thick. I could not get anything right and did everything wrong. He constantly complained about my cooking etc. The trouble is, I’d never had any confidence. My mum had been destroyed in this manner too, and I learnt the same attitude.  No one had seen this as a problem and addressed it.

I understand we can’t tell the financial world what to do, but really they lent me a ridiculous amount of money when I was earning under £10k. I became trapped in debt and didn’t think I could get myself out of it. He’d spent most of it and his work paid more (there’s a surprise). I could hardly become a single parent with no way to house my children or pay off the debt. Moving was the answer.

At school, I was generally a well behaved student, who did fine without putting in any effort. I slipped below the radars. I was never pushed, challenged or made to consider I had some intelligence. So I continued believing I didn’t. That I wasn’t capable. When I went off the rails BIG TIME, it seemed to go unnoticed as my results didn’t suffer.  I had a huge fight in the middle of town and they asked every single student in my year with blonde hair if it was them…except me.  Chances were missed.  Too often, teachers know more about what is happening in the students’ lives than the parents…but it’s not our place to state that their child is on drugs etc.

I came very close to being groomed…I was to some extent. It’s important for you to understand how serious and dangerous this situation was: the end result of one of my friend’s grooming was her murder. The police knew. They KNEW what was happening, how we were being treated, who we were. Having had a more fortunate upbringing, I wasn’t fully integrated to being the well behaved groomed girl and had gone to report an assault to the police on another friend of mine by one of these men. I believed that if someone broke the law they should be arrested and dealt with. Going to the police was the right thing to do. Their interest amounted to my value to them as an informant: were they dealing drugs? Where were their hiding places? What addresses did they use? What did I know? What was their routine? What were they doing on such-and-such a day?  A vulnerable female CHILD and there was no move to warn my parents or me, or help me. Just “give us info”. Fuck you Officer. I never went back again; even when I was attacked, even when I knew about a 16 year old girl who was in a room with a waiting room of 40 odd men of all ages outside and a bowl of condoms being worked through as she earned the ecstasy tablet she wanted. She wasn’t being abused, she was just a slag. The systems had conditioned me. I hate myself for that.

I digress slightly, but this is important to how I ended up in an abusive relationship and remained there. I was worthless. No one would want to help me. This was just the way of the world and what was most important was my children. They needed a father figure, right?

You see, ending abuse is not just looking at the courts role.  It is multi-faceted. It runs throughout a person’s life. It’s the whole of society that needs to listen, learn and change. If you don’t get that from the story so far, look out for part three that will undoubtedly make it even clearer.

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A Small Tale: Abuse, Support and the “System” – Part One

I was abused.

There. I said it. I’m stating it publicly.

And yet, in some ways it still seems to be not the right word.  Oh, it is.  But words have connotations. These come from society and your personal experiences. Connotations of words can differ from person to person.  There are no definite connotations or they would probably become symbolic.

So for me, and I bet actually many other people who read this, the phrase “I was abused” conjures up images of a young child being sexually abused.  This is not what happened to me. I can’t even imagine the horrors of having that happening.

However, I was abused. I was abused emotionally, physically and now I think about it, sexually.  The abuser is my husband.  I say “is”: again those connotations. I escaped (and yes that is exactly the right word) just over four years ago and am now happily in a wonderful relationship with the most understanding and supportive man. The abuser is still my husband though.

Why? I can’t afford the divorce. He wouldn’t sign and return the papers and I was left with the only option of paying £100 for a baliff to visit him. Oh and there was the issue of him getting kicked out of places he was living and often not having the address he was at. Nothing could be done then.  That’s the first problem with the “system”. A woman who has been abused has yet another real battle just to get divorced.  So he the abuser, gets to hold onto me still in someway.  He can tell everyone that I am his wife and despite the rarity of this in his speech, he is telling the truth.

Anyway, I digress slightly.  I should have recognised the signs early on and ran far, far away.  Although, I can’t really think that would have been the right course of action because then I wouldn’t have my two beautiful children. I think it is fair to say that I grew up early but there was an area of naivety and vulnerability about me because I had a self esteem issue.  I know where this stems from.  Exactly the same sort of scenario as I am discussing now but a generation ago.  A father who reduced my mum to feeling worthless. It is a separate blog post but I’m sure you can see the connection.

Alcohol showed some of its cards early.  He drank. He became aggressive. I remember of couple nights on the town. One where he went to the toilet and I was waiting outside. I civilly and politely chatted to the bouncer.  Me bad. And look at that, me, the victim in this, still trying to justify my actions so as not to be blamed.  How I spoke doesn’t make any difference! The point is all I did was chat to someone whilst I waited. It was enough to set him off into a rage.  I remember walking up the road with him accusing me of all sorts and deciding that anyone who walked passed us deserved attacking.  I might look at that innocent guy walking by or he might look at me.  He was angry. He needed to fight. I placed myself in the middle and stopped anyone getting hurt.  It was the alcohol. It made him angry.

Another time, New Year’s Eve to be precise. At the end of the night there was the usual crush to get to the cloakroom and out the door.  I was happy to queue up and chill.  He did not want to behave this way.  I know we argued and I know he grabbed me in some threatening way.  The part I vividly remember was the concern on the faces of the two girls in front of us and the one girl being brave enough to check I was okay. I reassured her it was fine (?!), that I knew he wouldn’t take it any further.  It was just the drink.

I didn’t worry about the drink. He made it clear to me that it was what everyone did.  It was “normal”. Everyone sat down to a few tins in the evening. With a background of family life that included alcoholics and later on tea totallers due to the damage caused by alcohol, it was a fair point that I would hardly know what was “normal”.

I was pregnant with our first child. It was fine. We had planned to have this child together and he would mature and enter a new phase of life. He’d promised. I was forgetting that he was actually 9 years my senior and should have therefore made that transition already. Zoom forward a few months. Pregnancy did not suit me. I was unwell. I was heavily  pregnant and suffering with my asthma and breathing difficulties and yet I was struggling to walk up to and back from the local shop to get him his cigarettes and alcohol.  I honestly do not remember why but I know there was a reason.  There are too many droplets of memories for them all to remain in the pool; some just overflow and soak away.  But I know there was a reason.  The most likely explanation was that he was laid up with his bad back or was at work until after the shop closed and my life would be made unbearable if I didn’t.  The droplet of memory that remains is the exhaustion and overwhelming sadness as I struggled back with the heavy carrier bag wondering what on earth was going on, what on earth I  had done to be living like this.  Clearly the idea that a man who looked after his pregnant wife and fussed over what she did was just another piece of crap fed to young girls. Don’t worry, I have re-learnt that these men do exist.

Every evening would be the same conversation: “I could go into labour any day now.  You need to make sure you’re not drinking so you can drive me to the hospital” (I couldn’t drive myself if I wanted to as I did not have a license).  Always the reply of promises.  I was induced the day after my due date as my health deteriorated. My son arrived late in the evening so the husband got to see us settled on the ward before going home. Of course he would return and visit first thing in the morning to see his first born child.  He did. Around lunchtime. That makes me want to cry right now. Another droplet: looking around the ward at all the other happy parents and family units and me being on my own with my baby in an incubator to keep him warm. When he did show, it was obvious.  It had been a heavy night.

I returned to work part time when my baby was 5 weeks old. My wages added up to his spending on alcohol and cigarettes. I told him I wasn’t going back to work for that. But it continued.

What is important to note here, and is impossible to get across accurately, is that the decline is gradual.  One day to the next, the change is too miniscule to detect. There is a difference when you compare year on year but that’s not what I tended to spend time doing: sitting down and thinking now how does my life in this moment compare to it in such and such moment.  You just don’t recognise how bad things have become as it has crept up on you. It hasn’t pounced or shouted. Just slowly, quietly, deceptively crept.

As time moved on, I recognised he was an alcoholic.  One time I even got him to admit it.  I contacted A.A. He went to one meeting and decided it wasn’t for him.  Time continued. I spotted a dream house but it would financially be a stretch.  It was the incentive he needed.  He wanted to move to a house of his dreams

….

Despite me believing I am completely over all this, it has led me to cry my eyes out. The suffocating balloon of anxiety in my chest which finally deflated nearly two years ago, suddenly reinflated.  I was wrong to think I had popped it.  I will continue this story of mine at some point as it is far too important to leave.  There are too many vital points that I need to get across regarding supporting victims and how the system works for me to just leave it.  So I have entitled it “part one”. I will not just let it sit in my drafts unseen after what writing it has put me through.

Most of all, I am learning as I write.  It has surprised me that it is the small things that have upset me the most: those that involve my children; the emotional abuse that belittled me; how slowly it happened but how big the change was; how even early on in that marriage I was reduced beyond recognition to the person I am now. Mostly, how I did not even really consider the emotional abuse as the worst or criminal.  My focus had been on the violence that had appeared later and now I am faced with recognising how much worse it actually was.

So I am publishing this as it is, without checking for errors I’m afraid as I’m not in a position to read through it and be okay. At this point, I hope at least it gives people a little insight to how it can happen, how those little droplets can be the deadliest poison  and how even the divorce process needs looking at, not just the police.

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Feeding The Trolls & Misogynistic Abuse

It is 11.33pm on a Friday evening as I start to type this post.

Being a mother and gaining a little in age, means that most Fridays do not involve a party on the town. I had however made my little plans: a little research into some awesome women, write a few blog posts for my two blogs, write a guest blog post about one of my blogs and if I got time start on another poem. Nothing overly exciting but relaxing and an important bit of down time doing something I love.  Tomorrow morning awaits the usual laundry and a class set of books for marking.

Yesterday had been an appalling evening on Twitter. I witnessed CCP go through the following: be sent incredibly violent, sexual, threatening tweets; have to deal with a barrage of “well meaning” tweeters continually suggesting ways in which she should handle the decision; these people ignoring her repetitive tweets not to offer this advice and then her reaction being policed when she swore and told people to fuck off and leave her alone.

I am not a friend of Caroline but she is someone I admire and respect. To watch her online desperately trying to handle all this (I believe close to 2000 tweets that day), to witness her obvious distress and still see a continual stream of people criticising her, piling in with their opinions, was awful.  She was bullied. Bullied by apparently well meaning supporters.

To top it off, the usual timeline stalkers came swarming in to offer their sting.  In some cases it was disguised as simpering concern but  was quite frankly manipulative play.  Some of these people will pop up in conversations (even when blocked) saying that they were @’d in or it was retweeted in their timeline when there have been no retweets.  They find ways around the blocks (it’s not hard) and stalk the timeline waiting for their opportunity to pounce on their prey when they are most vulnerable.

Ironically, they will hound Caroline and others with continual tweets and spend their evening composing a series of tweets criticising and demonising the person they were accusing of being a bully.

Today, I hopped onto Twitter when I got in from work, for some reason feeling optimistic that it would be a brighter place.  How wrong could I have been?

It was not long before I realised my stupidity. CCP had taken the decision to remove herself from Twitter TEMPORARILY not because of the abusive tweets but because of the victim blaming and everyone telling her how to behave. Is it not a disgrace that people weren’t just tweeting support or keeping the hell out of it?!

CCP has to deal with this in her own way and the topic of how people deal with abuse was to be the subject of one of my posts tonight but it can wait for a little while.  The point is we are individual human beings with different thoughts and feelings.  It is entirely up to her to deal with it in a way that best suits her.  Respect her enough to do this. Stop telling her or “suggesting” how she should. be doing it Tweet support or leave alone. Unfollow or get off her timeline if you are angered by the way she deals with it. What makes one person curl up in a ball and cry, will make another laugh out loud at its absurdity or laugh nervously or scream from the roof tops in anger. There will also be a mix of emotions. So someone can be furious one hour, calm the next or sobbing their heart out.  Please have some compassion.

However, finding out CCP had deactivated was only the start.  When I saw someone else who I respect receiving abuse, I had reached my point of ENOUGH. I knew that person had been experiencing a really hard, difficult time, working with people in awful positions this week. I chose to stand up for them, to show solidarity against misogynistic abuse, knowing I would probably get some backlash from it. It was my decision to do that so please don’t comment that I “shouldn’t feed the trolls” or such like, I’ll come to that. I believe that we have to show we do not find it acceptable and that it should not be trivialised as being okay as they’re just after the attention you’re giving it to them.  For the judgmental amongst you, I should perhaps mention, that at no point did I use a single swear word.  My words were “you are a poor excuse of a man with so little to be proud of. Go away”. Far from being a “man hater”, you see, I feel these types of idiots let down those many reasonable men. I continued to reply without swearing, determined not to be silenced.  The person behind the tweets started to @ others in to get them to join in.  Whilst I shouted back the tweets were the usual misogynistic comments about going to make them a sandwich, getting on all fours so he could put his feet up on me blah blah blah.

Interestingly, it was only once I stopped replying and instead focussed on screencapping all the tweets that they began to become more sexually explicit and vile such as, “@someoneelse would you like @me cunt or ass skid as yo special sauce?”  and telling me to take cock in my mouth etc. So don’t feed the trolls and they get worse.

Worst of all was that when I went to report the tweets with the new Twitter report button, I was expected to tick a box agreeing for the report to be shared with the person I am complaining about; a report in which I am expected to provide my full name (as well as twitter name) and email address.  Twitter you are a disgrace.  You only need to look at the tweets, click on their timeline to see they are abusive and not using it in line with the rules. You do not need to provide them with a range of other ways to hound me or track me down.

I am lucky. An organisation offered their help and took over reporting the tweets on my behalf.  I also had a huge amount of support once others realised what was happening. This included a number of those good men who are shown up by the likes of the trolls. The worst tweeter claims to be female.  If she is, I can only sympathise with the horrendous life and oppression she must unknowingly be suffering from to be able to talk about women in that way.  Of course, it could equally be a cover for a male troll…another common practise.

Today, I am able to deal with the crap they sent. Another day I may not. Subjected to far worse over an extended length of time, I know it would be very different. I would be full of paranoia with every tweet I received. I’d be questioning everyone around me.  Oh and I would be venting my fury with an awful lot of swearing.

I have lost my Friday evening to this torrid of abuse. I am writing now but after losing many hours and this was not what I was planning to write about! Tomorrow, my work will take over. Who knows if there’ll be another opportunity this week. It has had its impact.

So why keep shouting back?

For me, it is a price I am willing to pay over and over again for the ultimate prize at the end.

When she is older, I want my daughter to be able to go on the internet and not have to accept these people in any way, shape or form. I do not want her thinking “Oh well it’s just a troll”, “That’s how some people talk about females”, “It’s okay though, just don’t challenge them”. I want her to know that society does not find it acceptable. I want her to know that social media platforms take it seriously and find it unacceptable and have easy ways for her to report it should it appear, and that they will take swift action. I want the Police to understand it, to be able to use technology, to be able to gather the evidence, to take action and get the message out there that this is abuse by an abuser and not just a nuisance.

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Sexually “predatory” 13 year olds and “fembots”.

This has been a contentious issue on Twitter now for some weeks now.  Credit where credit is due, most of us would have been none the wiser about this case, if @EVB_Now had not campaigned vigorously for it to be reviewed and been successful. A huge thank you to them, Ending Victimisation, who have been a real education for me.

If you are unaware of the case, in which Neil Wilson was prosecuted for sexually abusing a child, this post is not about explaining what happened as there is plenty of information already out there about it.  It has been widely covered in the press and information regarding it are easily available (just google Neil Wilson!).  This post is my response to the various, mostly polarised and occasionally polemic, responses I have seen that have caused untold arguments and questionable behaviour.

I would like to start with defining some terms that have been used and will be referred to in this post so as to ensure we are all absolutely clear on what we are discussing:

Predatory = “1. (of an animal) preying naturally on others. 2. seeking to exploit others” (Concise Oxford English Dictionary, Twelfth Edition, 2011)

Exploit = “1. make use of and derive benefit from (a resource) 2. make use of unfairly; benefit unjustly from the work of” (ibid)

Radical feminism = this is a strand of feminism that focuses on patriarchy, in which societies are organised in a way that male supremacy is assumed and is used to oppress women.

Rape apologist = A term that is used to describe someone who makes excuses for rape, often placing blame on the victim, for example, and yes these are appalling examples but needed to be clear on the definition, “she was drunk/had a short skirt on/was asking for it”.

So, first of all, I want to start with a general overview.  I think it is fair to say, that most people believe Neil Wilson was wrong and deserved the guilty verdict.  The point of contention is the prosecutor’s and judge’s comments during “proceedings re sentencing”. (These have been publicly released and can be found here.)  The cause of the “outrage” is multifaceted. The most controversial issue has been the prosecutor’s use of the word “predatory” to describe the 13 year old girl’s behaviour and it is here that I will address specifics.

If we return to my definition of this word earlier, we can see that when applied to a human being it means “seeking to exploit others”.  I am reminded of a post or tweet I read in which  someone suggested that the use of the word suggested an element of power and to suggest a 13 year old had power over a 41 year old man was inaccurate and wrong. As is typical of debates on this subject, they were shot down in flames, accused of rewriting the dictionary etc. I have included the dictionary definitions for both “predatory” and “exploit” (which is part of the predatory definition) and I think they both suggest an element of one person being in a more powerful position than the other. Translated into its basic form, the prosecutor was saying that the 13 year old girl was seeking to sexually make unfair use of the 41 year old man, Neil Wilson. Just on the definition of the word, I think we can see that this is wrong.

Her actions that are described in the proceedings are often quoted as a defence for the use of the term and the argument is made that 13 year old’s can have sexual wants and desires and we are forgetting what it feels like to be a teenager. It is my opinion though, that as this is not two people close in age, there is indeed a power difference with Neil Wilson having much more.  Whatever she did then, can not be seen as trying to exploit him.  Surely it is he who has exploited her vulnerability?

But let’s deal with the idea that 13 year old’s can be sexual beings.  It is true that everyone develops and goes through puberty at different ages.  It happened to me incredibly early. Your hormones are raging, you have all kinds of feelings, sometimes you think they make sense.  However, you are often not emotionally mature enough to properly negotiate and understand these.  You can act on that feeling of being incredibly “horny” without really understanding.  It takes time for those hormones to settle! That is why we have laws in place to protect children. There are also all kinds of other issues as to why a 13 year old may be so sexually active: they may have suffered abuse; they may have lacked a “father” figure; they may feel unloved; they may wish to make someone happy; they may feel they ought to offer a “gift” to someone in more power; they may think that it is the only way to show someone affection or that they really want them in their lives. Whatever it is, that 13 year old is not being a predator trying to exploit someone for their own gains!

This has become the issue with this case but it goes far beyond this.  If you can stomach reading the details, then please click on the link provided above and read the details.  It comes with a content warning and is why I did not want to directly quote it here.  But it becomes quite obvious from the prosecutor and judge’s conversation that they are seeking to reduce blame on the offender and place it on the victim. Examples are the term “predatory”, how old she looked despite being in school uniform (!), the actions of her and lack of actions of him etc.

What they fail to discuss or consider are the moments leading up to the abuse. Can we honestly say that this girl, THE VICTIM, is the predator when he willingly turned back and decided to go and buy cigarettes for a school child despite being a non-smoker? Do we honestly think this is an act of generosity rather than being opportunistic? Do we not wonder why at 41, he felt the need to invite a school child to step into his flat? Whatever age she appeared, let’s be clear, she was in school uniform.  Just stop and think for a moment about how you would have reacted to that scenario.  Walk past and ignore? Tell her to get back to school? Now let’s think about Neil Wilson’s choice of actions and decide where the label “predatory” belongs.  With the offender and not the victim.

And that brings us to victim blaming.  Often we do not even recognise it and in some way or other the majority of us will have been a victim blamer albeit unintentionally.  However, it is important that people listen and learn so that it is no longer an endemic part of our society. The term “rape apologist” has been borne out of a recognition of this culture. Please note, that this post is the first time I personally have ever used that term either verbally or written. However, it has been used to criticise people who have defended the prosecutor’s choice of words.  A furore has often then followed with claims of libel etc. However, I believe I have shown why the term “predatory” was used incorrectly.  If you have chosen not to listen and learn about victim blaming and choose to defend a comment which is clearly part of a conversation parking blame at the victim of the sexual abuse, then I’m sorry, you are joining in the apologising of the abuser / rapist.

Many of those who have spoken out about this are also radical feminists.  Now suddenly, apparently, all feminists who have an issue with a patriarchal system (and yes that is part of the reason why victim blaming has become part of our society but that’s a whole different post) are to be treated with disdain.  I have lost count of the amount of names they have been called, which itself could fall under the definition of bullying as it is often from the same people. Firstly, not all radical feminists are the same and not all of them hold the same views (again, a different post). However, sweeping statements are made about them.  Some will shout loudly, metaphorically speaking, and some don’t.  But to be honest, when it is about a victim being blamed, who can blame them even if they’re screaming? They really have nothing on the suffragettes who were unable to get their reasonable demands met without resorting to violent actions that were described as terrorist attacks! Sometimes, loud is needed. Some of these RadFems have had uncountable amounts of abusive messages, tweets, letters etc and people demanding they debate each tiny point with them or take their advice as they know best.  In the heat of it all, some of them have sworn at or insulted some people.  I don’t condone this, I always try to remain civil but then I don’t have anywhere near the amount of traffic coming my way and it can be hard to keep cool! However, I do understand why it might happen and personally, I am grateful to many of them for raising so many issues and getting me to think about the way I may see things. They have spoken out about the despicable treatment of others including the victim in this case and have in return, it is true, seen a rise in followers but this is more than counteracted by the rise in threats and abuse they’ve received.  I fail to see how they can deserve vilifying for speaking up for victims.

The worst insult has to be the new term to describe them as “fembots”. It is an old classic bullying tactic to dehumanise someone. After all, take away someone’s humanity or deny their beliefs and suddenly they can’t be a victim and it’s okay to blame them or treat them in anyway you wish. Let’s be clear about this, obsessively poking fun at someone makes you a bully. Replace “feminist” with another belief or group of people if you are in any doubt.

At the heart of this is a 13 year old girl.  Our young people are living in an increasingly sexualised world where, whether you like it or not, the male is in power and the woman controlled.  Our young people deserve better. Males deserve to know that it’s not right to be violent, pushy or demanding and that their girlfriend will not be anything like that porn star and our girls deserve to know that they do not have to fulfill that role and that they deserve respect.  Don’t misinterpret me as a “man hater”, I’m happily in a relationship with one.  I know there are plenty of males and females who already know all this and are wonderful, caring human beings.  However, we can not deny the rising trends in young people and what they are exposed to each day from the porn on the phone, to the celebrity role models on TV or the photo shopped images everywhere.  Can’t we all agree that all children deserve to have the support and protection of adults rather than needing it FROM adults? That when they are a victim, that they are recognised as such and not apportioned blame?

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