Let’s talk about the Elephant in the room, no not the drink and drugs culture of the north, no not... Okay let’s talk about one of the many elephants or things that we prefer to ignore and forget about in the UK. Let’s talk about Child abuse, Child sexual abuse.
If you have been affected by or are concerned about anyone affected by this contact here.
Yesterday Richmond and I went to the Children 1st Open day at their Killen Centre on the scenic Black Isle. ‘Children 1st’ is the chosen charity of Hi-Ex. Every year at our Comic convention in Inverness we have run a raffle and Auction in Aid of Children 1st. The items for these events are very generously donated by comic creators, companies, groups and individuals- they have included some stunning pages of comic artwork. Thanks to the generous bids these events have raised thousands of pounds for Children 1st. Also some of the artists and writers attending Hi-Ex have collected donations for sketches and signings which have all gone into the pot.
So it was on behalf of all these good people that we went to see more of what Children 1st do for children and their families in this area.
Children 1st is a Scottish wide charity, they have been around for 125 years, and were known as Royal Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (RSSPCC) in the past. There are offices all over Scotland and fun fundraising events near you, details on their website. They also run Parentline.
The Centre at Killen is a beautiful tranquil converted school and school house. The warm, welcoming and calming atmosphere immediately settles around you. The building houses many therapy rooms, meeting rooms, resource rooms, art room, play room, a sensory chill out room and a lovely comfortable house for residential use.
An Abuse recovery service
Working with children ages 5 – 21 and their families to recover from the trauma of abuse and neglect
Family Group Conferencing
A fast and efficient method of helping a family identify and work towards their own solutions to problems with an individual or various members
Kinship care support service
Research has shown that a child recovers better in the care of their own family or people known to them, when their natural parents can no longer look after them. It can raise many problems within that families dynamic, guilt, anger and blame.
A residential facility for families and workers to work intensively in a safe comfortable environment.
Children 1st works with the whole family in the child’s interests.
Unfortunately due to a lack of funding they can only work with a small number of families. Estimates are that in the Highlands around 4500 children have been victims of sexual abuse, Killen Centre is able to work with around 70 families year.
I am experienced with abuse in the family and working with victims of abuse, so I am well aware of the complexity of the issue. According to the tabloids everything is simple, black and white, being angry and wishing violence upon the perpetrators is the simple, normal and kneejerk reaction. The Killen support workers told the fundraisers recent case studies which clearly illustrate that dealing with sexual abuse is not that simple. People in the audience blanching at the horrific reality of it. What about when a small child still wants to see daddy even after attempted rape? When mum rejects the child and dismisses what happened as they want their husband back? What about when their simply isn’t enough evidence? Or even when there is the perpetrators are still not put behind bars. When the perpetrator is an under aged vulnerable child themselves? Sometimes small children may appear to recover but later in their teens when they remember and realise what happened to them the trauma can re-emerge. The victims of abuse can be trapped in fight or flight mode, they can suffer Post Traumatic Stress, develop mental health problems, personality disorders, become self harmers, suicidal, incapable of forming relationships, become promiscuous, become abusers themselves etc etc.
Children 1st adopt a holistic approach, whilst setting baselines rules, and working with other agencies like social work to ensure that the child’s safety and needs are met at all times, they then work with all the people involved and the child to build upon the child’s support network and ensure recovery. They also work with the non-abusing parents to support them. Often after disclosure of abuse it can be the worst time in a parents life, they are at their lowest ebb, when the child needs them to be the strongest. It can put incredible strain on relationships as different people deal with it in different ways over a different timescale, the example they gave us was when Dad wants to rage and kill the perpetrator, Mum blames herself and wracked with guilt becomes numb and withdrawn, all at a time when the child needs love, reassurance, stability and routine. Abuse is like an explosion which rips right through a family, the effect can last forever.
I was very impressed with the skills and resources that they have, they clearly are all experts in this horrible field, every different case presenting new challenges. I feel so sad thinking of all the children and now adults I know who really need and needed this sort of support. It’s criminal that money stops everyone having access to these therapies and support.
But at least we all managed to help, the Hi-Ex money all went directly to this centre and helping these children get their lives back. I cannot thank enough all the donators and participants of our fundraising events. Rest assured we will do some more fundraising in 2011 even if the main comic convention won’t be back until 2012. I hope you will all continue to support this important cause. Ignoring the elephant in the room will NOT make it go away, we are all responsible for all the children, all the time.