Victims & Witnesses
The story began for many individuals more than forty years ago. Some have lived with the burden for even longer.
Almost a decade ago, the former First Minister Jack McConnell offered a full apology to adults who were abused as children while in care of the state.
He said: “we in the Parliament, on behalf of the people of Scotland, recognise that they were wronged and that we will do more to support them in the future than we have ever done in the past.”
Since he made this statement there has been progress, but it’s clear after hearing the views of individuals, survivors groups, children’s organisations and care providers, that more has to be done.
This is why as part of its Victims and Witnesses’ Bill, debated in Parliament last week, the Scottish Government, has proposed a National Confidential Forum.
The Forum will aim to give a safe and confidential space in which people can talk about their experiences. It is hoped these experiences will inform policy and contribute to the prevention of future abuse.
It is also hoped that it will give recognition to the pain and hurt that survivors have endured.
For those who choose to participate in the Forum, it is crucial that support is provided before, during and after taking part. Given the horrific experiences survivors have endured, there is a risk of re-traumatisation.
In an interview in 2001 talking of his own experience of childhood abuse, Billy Connolly said
“I kept thinking, if I’m still troubled by this, if I’m still carrying it around like a big rucksack full of bricks…I need someone to tell me how to get rid of this great weight”.
The moment for apology has been. We must now enable survivors to throw down that burden.