The media has been in a frenzy over the last two weeks concerning the appalling behaviour of the film producer Harvey Weinstein, I have lost count of the number of female celebrities who have made allegations against Weinstein claiming serious sexual assaults and rape that have occurred over a significant number of years. More worrying is the number of people who knew about his deviant behaviour but did nothing about it, this has a chilling similarity to the abuse perpetrated by Jimmy Savile, again many in the world of celebrity know about his behaviour but failed to do anything about it to protect children. Hopefully this issue of celebrities/professionals not reporting abuse to the relevant authorities will be looked at by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) that is taking place currently in London.
It is sad and very worrying to hear today allegations made by the singer Tom Jones that he was propositioned in his early days by a male and he cites “but what’s tried on women is tried on men as well.”
This is not just a Hollywood problem and highlights the under reporting of abuse of boys, young men and men in general. When the former footballer Andy Woodward broke his silence about being abused by his football coach back in November 2016 this did lead to a significant number of complaints to the Police from other footballers, both professional and amateur and highlighted the scale of the problem of abusive behaviour in the world of sport.
These revelations have led to more allegations across the sports world about serious sexual abuse by coaches but also abusive, demeaning and bullying behaviour by people involved in sports and also the suppressive behaviour that stops athletes from reporting abusers, this mirrors the actions of those in Hollywood and the film industry who for years have been denying that there is a problem in their profession, sport has been the same with pay offs, gagging clauses, threats and intimidation all being used to silence athletes as well as wanton denial by those in power to admit that there is a problem in their sport.
This shows how the powerful can shame and abuse the vulnerable in so many settings, these can include schools, the workplace, the gym, photo shoots for models, transport settings as well as the world of sport and entertainment. Shamed isolation is a very powerful tool that abusers use to control and manipulate victims. Know we know we all have a role to play to stop this behaviour.
The #MeToo hashtag on twitter is allowing women from all over world to highlight the ongoing problem of sexual abuse, sexually abusive behaviours and harassment that some face on a daily basis, we all have a responsibility to stand up for our women, men and children who are abused and confront those individuals, corporations, governing bodies and institutions (both public and private) in challenging them to change.
The Royal Court Theatre will be holding two events on Saturday 28 October 2017 to confront the abuses of power that have been occurring in the theatre industry for years, they have created an online form where you can safely, and (if you choose), anonymously tell them your stories. Whether you consider it a big or small thing, if someone in a position of power over you has made you feel sexually compromised, or at all uncomfortable, then be brave, tell us what happened.
Click here to tell us your story
This information was passed to me by Nikki Disney who the NWG are currently collaborating with in helping to produce an augmented reality resource for schools to enable them to help children affected by CSE.
This also mirrors the VOICE project that the NWG are in partnership with in helping to hear the voices of experience who have been abused in sport to tell their stories but also to develop educational resources for sports clubs and institutions to help keep children safe.
Only by hearing, acknowledging and understanding the voices of victims of abuse can we start to build an equal society that does not discriminate against the vulnerable or by gender and does not use power to coerce, manipulate silence then abuse human beings, the casting couch is no different than the physio table for boys and girls and men and women.
Education and Community Lead