We were victims of childhood abuse in our differing ways and here we'll share something of what happened to us.

Your comments and contributions are very welcome - and if you're a Survivor of childhood abuse then please, share your story with us.

And if you can, then please help us to all help each other by adding to our Links List of resources for Survivors of Abuse.

You're very welcome to leave us a Comment on a post or you can email us.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

We have moved

I have made the decision to move this blog.

This project means a great deal to those of us involved with it and I'm concerned that we could suffer the same fate as Micky and other bloggers on this platform.

The new address is http://malcolmrichard.wordpress.com/ and I very much hope you'll visit us there and also that those of you who have us in your blogrolls will update that information.

Micky and I look forward to talking to you at our new home.


Man held in Torbay child sex abuse inquiry

Police investigating alleged sexual abuse of young people in a Devon resort have arrested a 19-year-old man.

Officers told a news conference in Torbay the alleged abuse involved children aged 12 and upwards and 20 children had been interviewed.

Police said the offences include indecent assault and rape over two to three years and the victims were known to the offenders.

They said there could be more arrests in the fast-moving investigation.

Det Insp Simon Snell said: "Children are completely safe to walk the streets of Torbay. They are not being grabbed off the streets."

Fifty officers are investigating the abuse allegations.

The arrested man, from the Torbay area, is being held at Torquay police station.

Det Insp Simon Snell of Devon and Cornwall Police says children in Torbay are safe to walk the streets

Each offence had taken place in the Torbay area and none had taken place in a school.

The offences came to light after agencies involved in child care alerted police.

Eight social workers are supporting the children who have been interviewed. No children have been taken into care, although two were already in care.

Det Insp Snell said: "We are looking at other people and other arrests may follow in the coming days and weeks.

"The abuse could have been taking place over two or three years."

A letter designed to reassure parents has been sent to those with children attending secondary schools in the Torbay and Teignbridge areas.

A teacher at one secondary school in the area, who declined to be named, said: "We've spoken to a couple of parents who phoned in this morning, but that was because they hadn't received the letter, which they have now.

"We'll reassure any parents that need reassuring and provide all the support we can."

Thanks to BBC News for this story.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Calling graphic artists

Is there anyone out there who can help me out with a small artistic challenge?

You may have noticed that the header image has disappeared from this blog; somehow it seems to have been caught up in the recent Google blog nuking events. This would seem to be an ideal time to create a new header image that gets across the ethos of Leaving The Grey Room.

Unfortunately I have absolutely no skill in the area of graphic design and while I have several ideas I'm completely incapable of translating them into reality.

If anybody could help me with this I'd be very grateful.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Breaking the cycle

I think it's time to get some debate going here. With counselling (assuming it survives budget cuts) getting nearer I find my thoughts turning increasingly towards the events of my childhood and adolescence. This isn't an entirely bad thing as long as I don't get 'out of my depth'.

One of the mitigating factors often put before a court when a child abuser is brought to trial is that he or she suffered similar or worse abuse themselves in their childhood. Now, I try to be fair minded and I can see that certain behavioural patterns can be reinforced by childhood experience but I find it hard to quell a surge of anger every time I hear this plea. I'm not a saint and I don't presume to judge but my personal journey demonstrates that the chain can be broken.

When I was in Lower Sixth Form I expressed an interest in teaching as a career after getting my Music degree (that was the plan at the time). I already taught beginners classes in violin, that was considered an important part of my own development as a musician, and enjoyed the feeling that I was passing on some of my expertise to a new generation. There can't be a much more compelling reason to teach can there?

One of my Masters arranged for me to spend one afternoon a week at a local primary school to gain some 'real' experience in teaching. Most of the time I'd be unsupervised (bear in mind that this was 1970) and he wanted me to discover if my trademark temper could be kept under control in a classroom situation. I had a different concern because the Headmaster of the primary school wanted me to help with swimming lessons and then supervise the boy's changing room afterwards.

I thought about the implications a great deal in light of my personal experiences and decided that this would be my own 40 days and nights in the wilderness. I duly turned up for my first session and found myself trying to bring 15 or so naked 10 year olds under control and persuade them to get dried and dressed so education could commence. I was relieved and delighted when I realised that I had no desire to be anything other than their teacher; the one in charge.

Sadly my plans got derailed by the ultimate collapse of my relationship with my parents and university didn't happen, neither did teaching; education's loss I'd venture to suggest. What I did bring from that experience was the knowledge that the cycle can be broken.

Being abused does not have to make you an abuser.

Would anybody like to add their thoughts?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Common sense prevailing?

Hi everyone. I'm really sorry for the rather extended absence but I found that I was spreading myself a bit thin with trying to catch up on my college workd after I'd been ill. The backlog has been cleared now so I can devote a portion of myself to other equally important matters.

I'd like to briefly talk about an issue which is germane to the purpose of this blog but is also a potential emotional and political minefield. It has been announced that the rules governing CRB checks for all people coming into contact with children for whatever reason are to be relaxed.

You may, or indeed may not, be surprised to learn that I'm completely in favour of this relaxation. While I believe that all people who intend to work with children on a regular basis should be rigorously checked I think it's nonsensical that people such as visiting authors and one-off speakers should have to go through this rigmarole.

At both primary and grammar school we had many visting speakers and one feature of those special events was that they were attended by all the staff whose pupils were in the hall rather than in the form room. Even without the staff present a speaker at grammar school who had nefarious intentions would have needed to molest at least 30 children simultaneously; quite often it would be the whole of the lower school in the hall which was just under 200 children. I don't want to be flippant about such a serious issue but the scenario is surpassingly silly.

Obviously I wouldn't want to see a return to the laissez faire attitude of my childhood when a teenager was able to abuse me for three years within the confines of a tiny, remote village with nobody apparently suspecting a thing. Conversely I would hate to see children denied the opportunity to meet fine authors such as Phillip Pullman because he finds the idea of the CRB check insulting so decides not to offer his services.

Let's be clear about something. I don't believe that there is any greater incidence of child abuse than there has ever been. That we are more aware of the problem is clear and the apparent increase in offences is far more likely to be an increase in reporting and prosecution. This is a good thing!

Children need to be able to be children and that will always present a certain level of risk, be that the risk of falling out of a tree or into a river, or anything else. What is needed is a way to make children more aware of the real risks without making them scared of everything. Sadly I don't see a world where child abuse will stop but the risks can be minimised with a considered approach.

Above all, I'm talking to you parents, teachers and others who live and work with children, we must listen to children when they tell us that bad things are happening to them. When I was a child it was assumed that a child was lying unless there was concrete evidence to support a claim. Let's make sure that world goes forever.

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

UK: Muslim cleric assaulted boys at Stoke on Trent mosque

Mohammed Hanif Khan
A Muslim cleric has been found guilty of sexually assaulting two boys at a mosque in Stoke-on-Trent.
Mohammed Hanif Khan, 42, had denied charges of rape, attempted rape and sexual activity with a child.
A jury at Nottingham Crown Court found Khan, of Owler Lane, Sheffield, guilty of two counts of rape and one of sexual activity with a child.
The offences took place at the mosque on Capper Street between July and October 2009.
Khan has been remanded into custody and will be sentenced at a later date.
Religious education
The jury could not reach verdicts on other charges against the imam and were discharged from doing so.
Nottingham Crown Court heard Khan was imam of the mosque, where he led prayers and delivered religious education lessons to boys at evening classes.
Prosecutor Tariq Bin Shakoor had told the court one of the boys claimed in police interviews that he was singled out by Khan after evening prayer on several occasions.
He was assaulted in areas of the mosque not covered by CCTV, Mr Shakoor said.
The other boy was assaulted when he was an overnight guest at Khan's house, the jury heard.
In his defence, Khan said he had a close relationship with the boys because he tried to help them with their unruly behaviour.
'Exploited trust'
His lawyer, Robert Woodcock QC, asked him who had invited him to get involved in the families' business and he said it was mainly the boys' mothers.
Don Knapper, district crown prosecutor, said it was a case of abuse of young boys by a man who they and their families trusted.
"Khan was in a position of trust and exploited the access he was afforded as their teacher to abuse the boys," he said,
After the verdict, Det Insp Tim Martin from Staffordshire Police said it had been a thorough inquiry, and he realised the case had been cause for some "understandable concern" in the community.
There are other links to this story at BBC News.


Former Catholic Priest on trial for raping two young boys.

(former Rev.)Gary Mercure
Who has pleaded innocent
and has not yet been found guilty.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Opening arguments in the trial of a former Roman Catholic priest charged with raping two boys will be postponed until Thursday because of the looming snowstorm.
Ten jurors were selected Monday for Gary Mercure's trial in Berkshire County Court, officials said. Jury selection will continue Tuesday.
But even if a complete panel is selected Tuesday, officials said, opening arguments won't be held until after Wednesday, when the storm is expected to end.
Mercure, 62, faces three counts of rape of a child with force and one count of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, according to the office of District Attorney David F. Capeless.
Mercure, who served in two Troy parishes, was indicted in October 2008 on charges that he raped a boy in the Great Barrington, Mass., area in the fall of 1986 and another boy in New Ashford, Mass., in February 1989.
The alleged victims, who were from New York parishes and traveled to Massachusetts with Mercure, are now 34 and 35 years old, officials said.
The Albany diocese received allegations of sexual abuse against Mercure in January 2008, saidKen Goldfarb, spokesman for the diocese. From January until August 2008, Mercure was on administrative leave and was prohibited from all active ministry. He had been serving at the Sacred Heart and St. William parishes in Troy.
Following the diocese's investigation, Mercure was permanently removed from ministry in August 2008, Goldfarb said.
In New York state, Mercure was accused of but never charged with sexually assaulting several boys in Albany and Warren counties. The diocese investigated an incident relating to "misconduct with a minor" involving Mercure while he was at St. Teresa of Avila parish in Albany in the mid-1980s, authorities have said.
The statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges against Mercure in New York had already expired by the time the accusations were made. Massachusetts has a longer statute of limitations for such charges.
Mercure was ordained in 1975 and served as a priest at St. Mary's in Clinton Heights, St. Mary's Parish in Glens Falls, Our Lady of the Annunciation Parish in Queensbury, St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Albany and Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Latham.
from The Times Union , Albany, New York.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Social Worker censured over child's injuries and death

Sanam Navsarka -

A social worker in West Yorkshire, UK who failed to pass on information about the abuse of a toddler a week before she was murdered has been found guilty of misconduct.
Judyth Kenworthy was warned that two-year-old Sanam Navsarka had a bruise on her head and had been locked in a cupboard - but did not act.
The General Social Care Council is to decide what sanction she will face.
Sanam, of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, was murdered in May 2008 by her mother's partner.
She had more than 100 injuries.
'Extremely busy'
Mrs Kenworthy, a former family placement officer at Kirklees Council, had denied being told about the cupboard incident but a General Social Care Council committee found this to be untrue, following a hearing in London.
Mrs Kenworthy had admitted failing to pass on warning about the bruise on the child's head, saying she had been "extremely busy" at the time.
She had also agreed that no measures were taken to safeguard Sanam as a result of her actions and admitted withholding information when she gave a statement to police.

Detailing why her actions amounted to misconduct, the committee said: "The registrant was not trustworthy in her dealings with the police, concealing relevant information in a criminal investigation."
It added: "She did not communicate the information given to her to anyone within social services, nor was she accurate and straightforward in her dealings with the police.The committee said Mrs Kenworthy should not have dismissed a concern about a child without investigation.

"The registrant put others at risk and such behaviour undermines public trust and confidence in the social care services.
"The registrant's practices did not meet the standards required of a social worker.
Shattered leg
"At the very least she did not work in a safe and effective way. The public expects social care workers to be trustworthy and to work to relevant standards.
"Confidence in the social care services would be undermined if they do not."
Sanam died after being beaten over four weeks and was found with fractures to all her limbs. A metal pole was used to shatter one of her legs.
Hand prints and bloodstains were found inside cupboards, where she had been put as a punishment.
Her mother Zahbeena Navsarka, 21, was jailed for nine years for manslaughter. Her mother's partner Subhan Anwar, 21, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 23 years for her murder.
Thanks to BBC News for this report.


Monday, January 10, 2011

'Paedophile Ringleaders' jailed

Bristol, UK.
The leader of a paedophile ring which sexually abused young children and shared the images has been jailed.
Colin Blanchard, 40, of Rochdale, admitted a string of sex offences. He received an indeterminate sentence, and must spend at least nine years in jail.
Two women were also sentenced. Tracy Lyons, 41, of Portsmouth, was jailed for seven years and Tracy Dawber, 44, of Southport, for four years.
Plymouth nursery worker Vanessa George, 40, was jailed in 2009.
She received an indeterminate sentence, as did the fifth member of the ring, 40-year-old Angela Allen, of Nottingham. They were given minimum terms of seven years and five years respectively.
'Svengali-like influence'
Mr Justice Royce, sitting at Bristol Crown Court, said Blanchard was guilty of "breathtaking depravity", and described him as "warped, wicked, dangerous and devious".
He told the three defendants: "This case involving the three of you, together with Vanessa George and Angela Allen, has caused widespread revulsion and disbelief.

"Your influence Colin Blanchard, described this morning as Svengali-like, over four separate women so they engaged in sexual abuse of children in such tender years, is frightening.
"It is more extraordinary when one appreciates you never actually met three of them face to face.
"It is beyond the ken of decent people how any of you could stoop as disgustingly low as you did."
Prosecutors described five defendants as being involved in "one of the most sickening paedophile rings this country has seen".
Blanchard, an father-of-two, met the women over the internet and convinced them to sexually assault young children and send him the images.
The ring was broken when a colleague of Blanchard found child sex abuse images on his computer in June 2009 and called police.
'Dim woman'
The net closed in on the others when detectives identified George, Lyons, Dawber and Allen as being the other members.
George - who was described as being obsessed with Blanchard - abused young children at Little Ted's nursery in Plymouth.
Ex-prostitute Allen and mother-of-nine Lyons also assaulted youngsters to please Blanchard, an IT consultant. The two women were in regular contact on Facebook.

Dawber had a face-to-face relationship with Blanchard after meeting him on Facebook. She sexually assaulted a child and allowed Blanchard to take pictures of the abuse on his mobile phone.
Blanchard admitted taking indecent photographs of children, distribution of an indecent image and sexual assault of a child under the age of 13. He had previously admitted 19 other sex abuse charges.
Dawber, a former care worker and grandmother, was convicted in October of sexual assault, arrangement or commission of a child sex offence and five offences of permitting an indecent image to be taken.
Lyons admitted assault of a child by penetration, sexual assault of a child under 13, causing a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity and three offences of distributing indecent photographs of a child.
Greville Davis, for Blanchard, said his client was a "broken man" who had been diagnosed by a psychiatrist as suffering from bipolar disorder.
Stephen Smyth, representing Lyons, said Blanchard had a "Svengali" hold over his client, who was a "dim woman".
Thanks to BBC News.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Girls drugged for underage sex

Detective Supt.
Debbie  Platt

The ringleaders of a gang which groomed and abused teenage girls in Derby, England have been given indeterminate jail terms.
Mohammed Liaqat, 28, and Abid Saddique, 27, were found guilty at a trial in November of charges including rape.
At Nottingham Crown Court, Saddique was jailed for at least 11 years and Liaqat for a minimum of eight.
Many of the gang's victims were given alcohol or drugs before being forced to have sex in cars, rented houses or hotels across the Midlands.
Six other men have already been sentenced for their part in the abuse.
'Sexual predators'
A seventh man was cleared of sex charges but pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine.
Derbyshire Police Det Supt Debbie Platt said the two men were "sexual predators" who were looking for sexual gratification.
She praised the victims for coming forward and said that "without their bravery we would not have seen the outcome we saw today".
Liaqat, of Briar Lea Close, Sinfin, was found guilty of one count of rape, two of sexual assault, aiding and abetting rape, affray and four counts of sexual activity with a child.
Saddique, of Northumberland Street, Normanton, was convicted of four counts of rape as well as two counts of false imprisonment, two of sexual assault, three charges of sexual activity with a child, perverting the course of justice and aiding and abetting rape.
There were 26 girls involved in the case, with the youngest 12 and the oldest 18.
Derbyshire Police said the girls were from a variety of backgrounds and urged all parents to be aware of the risks of sexual exploitation.
A report published after the gang was convicted said there were "missed opportunities" by agencies to help the girls.
More from BBC News