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Stephen Fry Comments Criticised As 'Cruel And Indefensible' By Sex Abuse Charity

'Victims of child sexual abuse aren’t self-pitying at all'.

12/04/2016 12:33 | Updated 14 April 2016

Stephen Fry faces growing criticism following his controversial comments about the survivors of sexual abuse.

UPDATE: Stephen Fry apologises for sexual abuse comments

Fry likened opponents of free speech on university campuses to "self-pitying" assault victims on a US talk show, prompting widespread condemnation.

The Survivors Trust, told The Huffington Post UK the comments were "cruel and indefensible," while mental health charity Mind says it will speak to Fry in his role as the organisation's president.

The Rubin Report/YouTube
Fry likened proponents of free speech on university campuses to "self-pitying" assault victims

Fay Maxted OBE, CEO of The Survivors Trust, told The Huffington Post UK: "Taken in context of the impact of trauma on children, Stephen Fry’s comments are horribly cruel and indefensible.

"For someone who is so sensitive to his own mental health issues, Fry’s comments show a very sad lack of insight or understanding of the impact of child sexual abuse on its victims," Maxted said.

Mind released a statement on Tuesday to say that Fry, the organisation's president, had spoken in a personal capacity and that it would speak to him about the issue.

Fry made the comments during an interview on American television.

"One fears the advances of the Enlightenment are being deliberately pushed back," the 58-year-old told the Rubin Report.

Fry’s comments show a very sad lack of insight or understanding of the impact of child sexual abuse on its victims. Fay Maxted OBE, The Survivors Trust

Hinting at the reasons behind many of the controversial decisions made by student groups on campuses, Fry said: “Life is complicated and nobody wants to believe it. I suppose you might call it the infantilism of society.

"There is deep infantilism in the culture, in terms of the way they think, they can’t bear complexity."

He continued: “That you have to think, there are gradations, nobody wants that, they want to be told and to say: ‘This is good, this is bad’.

“On student campuses… There are many great plays which contain rapes, and the word rape now is even considered a rape.

“Or you can’t watch Macbeth because it’s got children being killed in it, it might trigger something when you were young that upset you once, because your uncle touched you in a nasty place, well I’m sorry."

It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place but your self pity gets none of my sympathy Stephen Fry

Fry continued: “It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place – you get some of my sympathy – but your self pity gets none of my sympathy.

“Self pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity.

“Get rid of it, because no one’s going to like you if you feel sorry for yourself.

“The irony is we’ll feel sorry for you, if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Just grow up.”

Anthony Devlin/PA Archive
Fay Maxted received an OBE for her work helping sexual abuse survivors last year

But Maxted, who helps represent 140 rape and abuse agencies across the UK, rejected Fry's comments: "In my experience, victims of child sexual abuse aren’t self-pitying at all but have often coped bravely in silence for years with how the abuse has affected them." 

"As President of a leading national mental health charity [Mind], I would have hoped that Stephen Fry would be much more sensitive towards people struggling to recover from trauma. 

"As a survivor myself I don’t want anyone’s pity.  I want society to protect children and make sure victims and survivors get the help and justice they deserve."

We understand why some people may have been upset by Stephen Fry’s remarks Mind, mental health charity

On its website, Mind said: "Abuse is incredibly serious and can have devastating consequences for survivors, particularly for their life-long mental health. We would urge anyone who has experienced abuse of any kind to reach out and seek support.

"We understand why some people may have been upset by Stephen Fry’s remarks in a recent American TV interview. Stephen was speaking in a personal context, giving his own views as part of a longer discussion on the subject of freedom of speech.

"As President of Mind, Stephen Fry has done a huge amount to raise awareness and understanding about bipolar disorder and other mental health problems. He has supported Mind in our campaigning activities over the last decade and has helped enormously to change public attitudes in the UK about mental health for the better.

"We will be speaking to Stephen to discuss the concerns our supporters have raised."

HuffPost UK has contacted Fry's representatives for comment.

Earlier, 'Good Morning Britain' presenter Piers Morgan expressed his concern for Fry on Twitter.

The Survivors Trust lists contact details for over a hundred specialist support agencies for women and men throughout the UK on its website.

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