Photograph: Author's own.
Last summer I saw my childhood abuser, second-year junior schoolteacher Bruce Kilgour, go to prison for his crimes of 40 years earlier. This historic child sex abuse case was one of many investigated through 'Operation Hydrant', and was featured on the BBC1 Crimewatch 'Catching the Abusers' special last week. I was one of three complainants in the case, and in the final verdict, Kilgour was sentenced to 10 years in jail. At 68-years-old, carrying a serious heart condition, this man is unlikely to live outside of prison walls again.
The consequences of what Kilgour did were far reaching. It took years of therapy, alongside a committed recovery programme based on spiritual principles, to resolve harmful addictions that sprouted from the trauma of repeated molestation at 8-years-old. Testifying in court last year however was something I never thought necessary for recovery, or beneficial for anyone involved. How wrong I was. The experience was life changing. But you have to be strong to speak out. Witnessing the impact it has on your own parents is one reason why...
One brave lady interviewed on Crimewatch was one of Jimmy Savile's victims. When asked why she had never told her mother about the incident her response was poignant.
"You can't imagine how rough he was with me. I never wanted to let my mother have that image of me in her mind."
My mother said that nothing else resonated with her more in the entire programme than this. My poor Mum, who has been wreaked with guilt ever since the Kilgour inquiry reared its ugly head two years ago. In our case the situation was even more complex. The Kilgours were family friends. They went to the same church where my parents were active members. Not only was I terrified of what Mr Kilgour might do to me in the classroom, what would possible happen if I said something against him to my parents? It just wasn't an option.
And here lies the rock and the hard place. For a terrified child in the '70s there was nowhere to go and no one to tell. 40 years later, in a society only just about ready to hear the truth, you feel almost responsible for breaking your ageing parents' hearts. And so, another lesson learned. Parents are victims too.
I was interested to observe the comments of someone called Karen Danczuk this week (I'd never heard of her before but she's in the media with 72.6k Twitter followers so she must be someone, right?) Ms Danczuk is ranting about how guilty the McCanns are in the abduction of their daughter Madeleine in 2007. Incidentally, the Sun newspaper also reports that the McCanns get at least 150 abusive messages every day from similar accusers.
In my opinion, you tread a perilous line to cast judgment on any parent for making a mistake that costs their child's life, or even their child's happiness. Abusers are extremely cunning in the way they operate. They use charm, wit and social status to hide their actions from the people who could stop them, and they use brute force and terror on the ones who can't. Apart from keeping a child with you 24 hours every day there is only so much you can do to make 100% sure that life won't play one of its tricks... And in many ways that is all part of life. Human beings are designed to withstand trauma. We wouldn't have survived as a species for as long as we have otherwise. Where trauma is damaging however, is when it's not processed - particularly for a developing child. They need someone to walk through it with them, by the hand, and as soon after the event as possible. In fact, that's what we all need, isn't it? Including the McCanns...
So I end with a message for my parents, which I truly hope they can hear. For my father, who had to watch his daughter's case on TV for his emotional devastation to finally hit home. And for my mother who just can't seem to forgive herself for what a church friend did to her daughter, behind her back. I say this...
Thank you for being the best parents you could possibly be, at the time, with all that you had. And thank you for everything you did for me, which, in the final count, far outshines all the rough. The list is as endless as the love you had for your only daughter. And what is truly remarkable now, is that the only Guilty party sits in jail.
Isn't it finally time for our society to let compassion flow?
Dragon King's Daughter: Adventures of a Sex and Love Addict is available on Amazon.