It’s not often that the songs I write keep replaying in my mind in relation to news stories. But recently with the horrific stories of domestic violence being reported in the paper and the sickening case of Jimmy Saville, two of my songs in particular “Nerves of Steel” and “I know What it’s Like” keep playing over and over in my head.
Those songs are about having the courage to speak out about bullying and abuse and not being believed.
The victims of Saville were disgracefully not believed. All of those victims knew the truth about him. They may have felt isolated and manipulated into thinking that they were the only victim. But all have been subjected to images of “Saint” Saville in the media hiding behind his mask of the “Charity Fundraiser” all the while knowing he was abuser.
We live in a very superficial world it seems, where some people believe in what’s only skin deep. It’s because of this that manipulative people prosper.
I would love to see a change come about in my lifetime and I am passionate about campaigning for one. If someone claims that they have been bullied or abused in all its guises (psychological, physical, sexual etc) the first reaction to a claim has to one of belief of the victim, not the abusers claims that the person is delusional, bitter or mental. Saville’s victims were dismissed as “delusional fantasists” by others. By joining in with it, we are part of it, by not saying anything we are part of it.
I would like to see people taking a stand and making a big social statement that bullying and abuse and power and control over someone else is not acceptable.
People who disbelieve claims of bullying and abuse are aiding and abetting the abuser and adding to the isolation and intimidation felt by the victim. Abuse is a horrible thing, it is traumatic, confusing and attacks the very essence of your being. It cannot be understood fully unless you have experienced it. It can happen to anyone. What people need more than anything, during and afterwards is TO BE BELIEVED.
Abusive people are very fragmented and very cunning. However pleasant, unassuming, non-threatening a person may seem in public, behind closed doors they can be very different. If you could tell an abusive person by their public persona, abusive relationships would be rare.
If someone makes a claim of abuse about someone we consider a “friend”, it obviously puts us in a very difficult situation. But I believe it’s important to ask, “How well do I actually know that person beyond what they have told me?”. Abusive people are damaged with huge psychological problems. If you like them, you only know the mask. If you like them you are being manipulated by them because there is nothing “real” to like about them. They will have had many, many victims by the time they reach their 30’s and 40’s. They may be excellent at covering that up, but chances are they have never really had to because their victims didn’t feel they could speak out because they felt they wouldn’t be believed. This is why things have to change through education and raising awareness.
The sad fact is, that by not speaking out and not believing claims of abuse we are enabling the abuser to carry on with their behaviour time and time and time again. The damage that behaviour causes cannot be underestimated.
It’s too late for the victims of Saville to see him arrested and imprisoned but I know the sense of justice they will feel. Just like a woman on the Saville documentary last night said, the fact they are now being believed is justice enough. My heart goes out to every single one of them.
I am glad that Saville is not around to defend himself. A good few people would probably believe him.
I will be appearing on Rebel ArtsRadio on Cambridge 105 FM on November 12th to talk about releasing Nerves of Steel as a single for Refuge and to raise awareness about the warning signs of abusive relationships.
“I’ve told my story, I’ve laid my soul bare, I’ve told my side, we’ll leave it there and the truth will out,” – Nerves of Steel by Flaming June
“I know what it’s like to tell the truth and be called a liar,
I know what it’s like to speak out and have no-one believe you
I know what it’s like to be be pushed to the brink
And see them all still buying bully boy a drink” – I know what it’s like by Flaming June
Be a believer – end the silence on abuse