Open Letter to Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP

17.07.16 | Blog

Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP
Westminster Office
House of Commons,
15 July 2016
To Rt Hon Mrs Leadsom MP,
I take time today to write to you with a heavy heart having just read the comments it is alleged you made in an interview with The Times where you are to have said:

As an employer we’re not, let’s face it, most of us don’t employ men as nannies, most of us don’t. Now you can call that sexist, I call that cautious and very sensible when you look at the stats. Your odds are stacked against you if you employ a man. We know paedophiles are attracted to working with children. I’m sorry but they’re the facts.

I’m not quite sure what facts you are looking at but I would like to provide you with some information on just how dangerous your words are.
First of all, I would like to set my bias out by stating that I myself am a male survivor of childhood sexual abuse and currently am the proud CEO of Survivors Manchester, a small charity that works with boys and men directly affected by sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation. So as a male in a caring role, working in what is very much seen as a female centric area (sexual violence sector) environment, and the victim of a paedophile I have some insight into the effect of your words and some knowledge into the data connected to sexual offending.
I would firstly like to clear up an error you made and respectfully remind you that what we know is that paedophiles are attracted to the sexual abuse of children, not necessarily to working with children. Whilst there is certainly a need for those we call ‘paedophiles’ to have access to children in order to commit the act of abuse, and working with them could certainly be a way to gain access; to say ‘they’ are attracted to working with children is not only misinformed but an extremely dangerous comment to make.
There is no doubt there is a great many male nurses, dentists, paediatricians, counsellors, child social workers, nannies, teachers, au-pairs, class room assistants, and numerous other caring professions that work directly with children because they want to do good work and not because they have to meet their sexual and/or sexual/emotional needs and abuse children. To make the statement as you did certainly makes it harder for male carers to step forward as no one wants to be seen as a child abuser. It re-iterates and re-ignites the oppressive and suffocating myth that ‘men can’t care’ and ‘any male that wants to use his compassion by working in the caring profession must be approached with caution as he clearly has an ulterior and sinister motive’.
But I’m sure that there are many more, far more intelligent people that can articulate a better rebuttal to your ill-informed words than me.
The reason I wanted to write directly to you was to let you know how hard it is as a male survivor to step out of the shadows and speak up, get help and begin healing and how your words could have prevented a boy or man from doing that.
For hundreds and thousands of boys and men that have been sexually abused, they are silenced by fear. Silenced by the fear of judgement. Silenced by the fear of judgement that the world will think they are abusers because the world tends to see only males as sexual abusers and continues to perpetuate the myth that all those males who have been abused will go on to become abusers.
Back in 1988, American Author and Psychotherapist, Mike Lew, called the latter part of this myth “the vampire syndrome”; and across the world we have been battling hard to drive a steak through the heart of this myth ever since.
Equally, we have also been trying to teach the world about the need to recognise female perpetrators of sexual abuse and exploitation; and to remove the gender bias from the victim / perpetrator idea. If we don’t carry on doing that then more children, boys and girls; and more adults, men and women; will remain silent about the thing that is causing them the most pain.
What you said Mrs Leadsom in The Times has a direct impact on perpetuating this myth and idea, and has a direct impact on keeping males silent. You’re words have certainly caused a number of boys and men that were on the verge of speaking out and asking for help to stand back down and stay silent. Your words have reminded them to buy into the distorted idea that people think males are not to be trusted ‘because they are probably paedophiles’.
I can tell you personally about the fear I had inside me, like many many boys and men who needed to speak out and get help as victims, that if I did tell anyone I had been sexually abused then they would automatically assume that I was the very thing that caused me so much pain and the very thing that I knew I absolutely wasn’t… an abuser, because after all I am male! That fear eats you up Mrs Leadsom. That fear closes down the idea of all options of a future Mrs Leadsom. That fear keeps you thinking this is just how it’s going to be forever Mrs Leadsom. That fear ends lives Mrs Leadsom.
I’m sure that you hadn’t even considered this when those words fell out of your mouth and on to the pages of The Times. I’m sure as the mother that you talk so fully about being, you would want a world where all mothers’ sons feel able to speak out and get help and not feel silenced by the oppressive idea you perpetuated with that statement.
As that mother that you state being means you have “a very real stake” in the future of Britain, then know that must mean for the ability of girls and boys, men and women, who are affected by sexual abuse to feel free to come forward in their times of need and see that we are waiting with open arms to receive them and give them the help, guidance and encouragement in healing that they deserve and not, as your words have done, push them back in to the shadows.
I, along with many other individuals, agencies and charities across the UK and world look forward to reading or hearing your apology and see you engage in creating a better stake in the future of Britain for us all.
Yours sincerely
Duncan Craig
Founder Chief Executive Officer
& Psychotherapist

Survivors Manchester
The following individuals, agencies and organisations are supportive of this letter:

  • Kate Maggs (CEO of Better Things)
  • Mr Phillip Bradley
  • Mrs Zoe Cook
  • Mr Nick Hoyle
  • Ms Marie Petrequin
  • Mr Adam Laidler
  • Ms Denise Hitchen
  • Ms Geraldine Conaghan
  • Ms Kendra Reid
  • Mr Simon Nicks
  • Ms Charly Lester (Journalist / Blogger)
  • Mr Jacek Borek
  • Mr Bob Balfour (Founder of Survivors West Yorkshire)
  • Dr Siobhan Weare (Lecturer in Law, Lancaster University)
  • Dr Stephen Goss (Principle Lecturer, Metanoia Institute)
  • Ms Claire Woods (RGN)
  • Ms Stephanie Magenta
  • Ms Caitlain James

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