I wonder if something slightly odd has happened in the past six months or so, whereby the attention devoted to the group in the media and political spheres has dwelt unceasingly on their "barbarity" but failed to actually convey the scale of the human rights crimes involved. Has the effect been to almost trivialise the reality?
Imagine you went on a first date with someone who was sarcastic, nasty, disparaging towards you. It's hard to believe that you would agree to a second date. Yet an abusive relationship can creep up on us and have us gradually accepting that behaviour, justifying it, perhaps even feeling that we are in some way responsible for it happening.
If we don't publicly talk about boys and men as victims of sexual abuse then we're not providing them with the words that allow them to speak the language and set them free from that darkness. Does not talking mean that we collude with the silence, the pain and the suffering? But things are definitely changing for the better.
For anyone who's been a victim of sexual abuse, asking for help to recover is a big step, yet to move forward and cope with what's happened it can be crucial... We want to help tackle the stigma that surrounds male victims of sexual violence and encourage them to seek help. I also hope it will encourage more male victims to report the crime and bring their offender to justice.
If we are going to protect children from sexual abuse we must make sure that anyone who recognises they have a problem, and want help to make sure they don't harm a child, is supported in getting treatment. I don't think you can 'cure' someone of paedophilia but you can use therapy to help them control their urges.
Earlier this year a conversation with an MP was the catalyst that led me to realise there was a major flaw in the laws designed to protect children from sexual abuse. The teenage daughter of a constituent had been sent a series of text messages by an older man. The messages had started off innocently enough but then became more sexual in tone...
From prominent personalities of stage and screen, and to those who hold significant power and authority in industry. To me, my step father held this same air of authority, and like a good little girl, I never disclosed his actions to anyone, for many years. I loved him like daughters love their fathers; I was protective of him, and did not want to see any harm come by him.
In a practical sense, no single remedy can address this endemic issue. Instead a range of solutions, constituting a holistic approach, are required. Firstly, a truly independent inquiry should be commissioned - one which is not led by any of the institutions implicated in the case, and further not implemented by a high profile man or men.
Every day, we work with vulnerable children, many of whom have experienced or are at risk of child sexual exploitation. This horrific abuse has affected a number of children supported by our services, whether related to risks to those in residential or foster care, or to young parents receiving our help. Awareness must be raised and professionals, children, and their carers must be educated about the risks around exploitation, as well as ways to guard against it.
Up until the age of 40 (2002) I was a responsible gay man. I ensured that I used protection every time I had a casual sexual encounter. I was not in a committed relationship at that stage, so it was not even an option for me to bareback with someone. I found that exceptionally scary at the time, as I was aware of how easy it was to contract STDs, especially HIV.
Nothing will get better, for men or for women, unless we can talk about rape more calmly; unless we can accept and marry into our language the fact that rape is both grotesque and horrific, banal and workaday; unless we can understand that rape isn't always the worst thing you can do, isn't always the worst thing that can happen to you - but that sometimes, it is. Rape, like life, is complicated, and we need ways to talk about that.
Here is a young woman in a popular holiday destination for those with a limited budget - I'm not going to assume that she's working class, but I'm certain the journalists will have done. She having fun, she's drinking, she's apparently being sexual on her own terms. Someone filmed it and the whole thing went viral - oops. Enter the tabloids with their guidebook to acceptable women's behaviour and pronounce her unclean, apparently we've found a "new low" ... It's not long before social media is calling her "actual vermin" and a "repulsive slag". I failed to find anyone (other than feminists) criticising the men in any way, the woman in question has had her name and photo all over the internet today; where are the men?