Child sex abuse victim: Tormented and failed by the system

Abused as a child and raped, her character was assaulted in court; Staffordshire police did not take her claims seriously. Speaking to Politics Bulletin, she disclosed how she felt an initial sense of paranoia. For necessary ethical reasons, we can only refer to her as Barbara. During our investigations we contacted Staffordshire police regarding some of the damning allegations, they declined to comment.

Barbara now suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Asperger syndrome. Speaking now as a grown woman Barbara has been deprived of sanity and any ounce of happiness. “I like playing mandolin and clarinet because I love music” Barbara reveals. She would explain how she had a relatively normal childhood: “I went to Stafford Girls High School, the same school the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy attended, I was there whilst she was there though in a different class.” She loved playing the guitar: “I wanted to be a ballerina, I studied ballet for seven years altogether, I did three years at the Royal Association of dance when I was 16 but low self-esteem got in the way of a career.” One day she is at school studying cello and playing the recorder, then next she is placed in an assessment centre used as a children’s brothel. She then went on to suffer horrific abuse and she was molested and raped as a young girl. She exclaimed that she was: “Being tortured” and “I don’t use that word lightly” she adds. But Barbara was not always like this, whilst Barbara does not want to divulge the reasons why she had to go into care at such a delicate age, she does nevertheless recount memories of her early childhood. You will struggle to maintain composure, her experience, heartbreaking. It is very hard to not get wholly immersed in the details Barbara reveals.

Inquiry into the 'Pindown Experience'.
Inquiry into the ‘Pindown Experience’.

It has been proven that during the 1980s a method of behavioral punishment known as ‘pindown’ was used throughout children’s home within the county of Staffordshire. Children, such as Barbara were locked in ‘pindown rooms’ for a certain period of time as punishment for bad behaviour such as using violence, running away from their care home and other behaviour which was deemed malevolent by the care workers. ‘Pindown’ has been likened to solitary confinement; prolonged darkness, nobody to talk with and little food or drink. When a child needed to use the toilet they had to knock on the door so that a worker would let them out and take them to the toilet before locking them back in ‘pindown’ until their time was up. An inquiry undertaken by Staffordshire County Council in 1990 found ‘pindown’ to be an unethical, unlawful, unprofessional and unacceptable practice. According to the inquiry, the longest continuous duration that a child was in ‘pindown’ for was 84 days, which is shocking to say the least.

A past newspaper article detailing child abuse allegations in Staffordshire.
A past newspaper article detailing child abuse allegations in Staffordshire.

Barbara experienced the ‘pindown’ technique in the 1970s but the review undertaken by the Staffordshire Child Care Inquiry did not date back to the 1970s. Barbara’s experiences of the ‘pindown’ technique started when she was thirteen years old. It was at the Chadswell Assessment Centre in Staffordshire. Chadswell has since been shut down because of the high levels of abuse (both physical and sexual) that took place there. But at the age of thirteen Barbara was placed in the now notorious children’s home.

“They put me into an assessment centre, which was being run by paedophiles. I was assaulted, the man came into the dormitory where I was lying in bed crying and he shouted at me and hit me.

“I hit him back so they put me into a cell. I don’t know how long I was in the cell for because I lost all sense of time, the lights were kept on all day and night and there was no television or radio.”

The man who hit Barbara and forced her into a ‘pindown’ room was Joseph Hopkins-a child rapist and paedophile. Hopkins was in charge of the Chadswell Assessment Centre. He was jailed in 2001 after he was found guilty of one count of rape, nine indecent assaults and two counts of assault causing actual bodily harm. The crimes were all committed against children. However, the crimes that Hopkins was found guilty of were committed at Riverside Children’s Home in Rochester between 1981 and 1985, several years after Barbara suffered physical abuse at his hands during the 1970s. The investigation, which Staffordshire police conducted in 1999, neglected to examine the alleged abuse that took place during the 1970s at Chadswell when Barbara was located there, they didn’t look back that far into the past.

Nevertheless, Chadswell Assessment Centre, which assessed and housed hundreds if not thousands of children over the years, was run by paedophile Joseph Hopkins. Barbara alleges that the children’s home was frequently visited by paedophiles. She describes that during the 1970s, Chadswell was being run as a “Children’s brothel,” she said:

“I lost my confidentiality rights the day i was put in a children’s brothel, which was what Chadswell Assessment Centre was being used as in the 1970s.

“Another girl had written this suicide letter; she had been sexually abused by her father, and it was because of that letter that I realised that the people were sexually abusing the children there because the girl described what they were doing there. Anyway, I was really frightened, so I attacked anyone who tried to get into the cell, because I thought they might do things to me.”

The girl who had written the suicide letter could have been any number of girls who was housed at Chadswell under the watch of Hopkins. Unfortunately, it is still not known to this day whether the girl who wrote the letter survived at the hands of her abusers and it probably never will be. There is very little information to be found regarding Chadswell, the majority of search result listings make for extremely sad reading: The first page of Google search results indicate the level of child abuse that engulfed the children’s home; first hand descriptions of the abuse that people at the home suffered are all too simple to find. In 1989, Chadswell was shut down and that was the end of it, whoever decided to shut the home down must have known what was happening there, however, there was no governmental report or investigation surrounding Chadswell. The child Victims of Chadswell have had to get on with their lives and live with the atrocities that they suffered at the hands of the paedophiles at Chadswell.

St George's psychiatric hospital has now been abandoned but a modern version with the same now has been built in close proximity.
St Georges psychiatric hospital has now been abandoned but a modern version with the same now has been built in close proximity.

Barbara was forced into the psychiatric hospital (St George’s Psychiatric Hospital) at the tender age of 14; she recalled how a lady there would refer to her as “The baby” because she was so young. Barbara tells us how she was “Abused there as a child aged 14-15.” St George’s has since shut down and been re-opened. Barbara goes on to tell us how she has searched high and low for assistance regarding her case:

“I have loads of letters that I sent and replies. I wrote to my MP, Bill Cash and Jack Straw when he was in charge of justice, Lord Falconer, Harriet Harman, Bridget Prentice, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, all the national newspapers, Stafford Police, the MET, the Archbishop’s of Canterbury and York, I even wrote to the Queen. I have Replies from all these people, I have a great big box of correspondence. I have so many house of commons replies on that special cream paper I could wallpaper a house with it. I wrote to every MP in the UK at least ten times.”

“It’s really upsetting seeing these letters, it was like hell on earth for me at the time and I don’t know how I coped. I have screaming fits, it’s like the horrible noises are coming from an animal, I can hear myself screaming but can’t stop it, I don’t know if it’s PTSD or Asperger Syndrome meltdowns, it leaves me exhausted as if I’ve run a marathon or something.”

Although she received many replies from the majority of these people, not one of them was able to give Barbara the help she needed. Barbara informs us that she regularly wrote and received replies from her local MP Bill Cash, she said:

“I am embarrassed by some of the letters because I really believed that Bill Cash was a decent man and the letters I wrote are so naive, he wrote back to virtually every letter I sent, that’s why I trusted him but he’s never brought up any of the issues I raised about child abuse and secret family court abuse up in parliament. The only time I saw him raise family issues was when he brought up wanting to bring back caning in schools.

Cash, like all the other people in high power that Barbara turned towards for help just swept her under the carpet hoping she would go away and treated her like a number rather than the human being that she is.

Barbara prepared an access request for her information to Staffordshire County Council. Under the Data Protection Act 1988, she is entitled to have access to the information they hold about her. She requested access to her old social work records. The response from her council was unacceptable; in a letter response to her request they shamefully stated that: “Despite a considerable search” they were unable to identify the records she requested. Now, either there is an issue of security or foul play whatever the case; Stafford County Council breached the Data Protection Act. Her sensitive social work records were misplaced. Clearly her information was not secure; surely this begs the question of competency.

The term Parent Alienation Syndrome was coined by American psychiatrist Dr. Richard Gardner in the 1980s.
The term Parent Alienation Syndrome was coined by American psychiatrist Dr. Richard Gardner in the 1980s.

After several years of enduring abuse, Barbara was later branded with the case of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and subsequently was subjected to Dr. Richard Gardner’s classical threat therapy. He was a psychiatrist, his methods appear radical. He suggested that the mother be removed from her child’s life in defence of fathers who have been accused of committing abuse, an unfavourable solution one might argue. The reasoning and principles supporting PAS has no proven scientific validity. However, family courts use it frequently and possible outcomes include; women being thrown into psychiatric facilities, coerced to remain silent about abuse, unjustifiable and unfair treatment of women in general. The flawed and harmful theory produced by Richard Gardner is adopted globally. Barbara’s ongoing torment from the family courts led her to write to the Ministry of Justice and their subsequent reply was that: “People involved in family court cases view the courts as private rather than secret”.

However, after a flood of criticism, in recent years there have been serious suggestions for a review geared towards ending secrecy in family courts. The government maintains that this move would be dangerous for the children. Controversy has surrounded the family courts owing to their expansive powers to secretly jail people.

Cases are dropped due to lack of evidence but most frequently because the victims are not believed, this cause is magnified by the words of Richard Gardner who said: ‘At the present time, the sexually abused child is generally considered to be the victim, though the child may initiate sexual encounters by ‘seducing’ the adult’, this shocking statement is clearly in defence of the actions of paedophiles. Barbara reveals explicit details in her accounts, in order to capably tackle the enormous task of uncovering these abuse allegations; one must look beyond the blinding wiles of power and reputation as well as status.

Moving forward has much changed in the way we think about child abuse?   Investigations are not nearly as thorough as they ought to be. The standards fall short each time and victims feel let down. Inquiries have uncovered some cases and even then prosecution has proved difficult, no amount of compensation can make the victims feel more secure. For many years an uncountable number of children have been abused in our society and yet not an awful amount of effort has been put into bringing the abusers to justice. In many cases the victims are disbelieved and sometimes feel punished for coming forward.

Victims of child sexual abuse are left dejected and alone.
Victims of child sexual abuse are left dejected and alone.

Victims of child abuse are not concentrated and confined to one area; the issue is widespread and national. If authorities acted appropriately many failed cases could be prevented, and the brutal offences would not have continued for such an extensive amount of time. It is clear that children all across the country have been failed extensively and repeatedly. The blame does not lie with just one, but a plethora of trusted institutions. Still there are secrets to be uncovered, and it remains a challenge to illuminate that which has been covered-up for years now. We have come to know numerous alleged abusers through the media and there is no doubt that there are many more involved; some who are cloaked and well insulated by wealth and power. Procedures are at the very least suspicious, the failings unquestionably ridiculous. Confrontation definitely needs to happen, for too long many survivors have been robbed of justice simply because alleged abusers have died. The fact that many abusers are known to be within our political structure is shameful. It remains true that the majority of abuse victims know their abusers. Although we are well aware that it is simply not possible to prevent or even predict all incidents of child abuse, it is important to expose as much as possible.

According to the NSPCC, one in twenty children in the UK have been sexually abused whilst it is estimated that one in three children have been sexually abused by an adult but do not tell anyone; these statistics are staggering, child sexual abuse is rarely reported on in the mainstream media, it is a topic which is being buried in the sand. Victims of child abuse are ignored and even when they shout to the rooftops of how they are being abused, they are ignored, as Barbara was.

Where aid and solutions are supposed to be found; some judges tolerated the systematic corruption. Victims are left powerless and at risk, such repercussions are devastating. Scandalous even, some might protest. Barbara feels hopeless due to the outrageous treatment from our trusted institutions and her alleged abusers. Historic abuse is all too common now, and recent cases are treated in an unambiguously shocking manner whereby, survivors are mistreated and see little justice. The authority’s response does not show devotion to the victims. David Cameron has repeatedly dammed victims of abuse calling them “conspiracy theorists” and compared allegations made by victims against people in Westminster to the equivalent of a “witch hunt.” If the British Prime Minister is not willing to take positive steps to eradicate systematic child physical and sexual abuse from the dark places of the British establishment then who else will?

On the surface of it all, one can deduct that the deplorable actions of predatory abusers are not dealt with appropriately. There is a toxic entanglement between the secret family courts and miscarriage of justice. Barbara’s childhood was very much appalling: it remains plagued with painful memories. The climate of her era ensured the indecent assaults on Barbara and her contemporaries would go unpunished. Those who constitute a sexual risk to children should not work with children that is a given and yet the system has favoured paedophiles and left victims of child abuse dejected. After hearing the story of abuse shared by Barbara, you can feel nothing short of disgust regarding her predicament. Children are burdened with secret and nightmares of their abuse. Certainly one would hesitate to castigate these children who clearly have been affected by trauma. It has become apparent that a vast majority of paedophiles held a position of power and trust which they abused and this is a continuing trend. Victims feel shame and guilt as they spiral into a cycle of dejection and hopelessness.

The slideshow below pictures a handful of the replies Barbara received from some of the officials that she wrote to. 

Click this link to find our article on VIP Paedophile Rings: https://politicsbulletin.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/the-vip-paedophile-ring-a-matter-of-accountability/

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  1. Pingback: Child sex abuse victim: Tormented and failed by the system – Politics Bulletin | fighting for the rights of childrens human rights

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