In recent news, we saw the report in The Guardian about Andy Woodward who, at the age of 43, finally feels able to tell his story and free himself from the secret – “the massive, horrible burden” – that has shaped his life since the age of 11 when as a football-daft kid from a family of Manchester United supporters, he first came to the attention of the coach, scout and serial paedophile Barry Bennell.
It exemplifies issues with which we at SurvivorsUK are only too familiar. The fear of disbelief and ridicule, the sense of loneliness and not being able to tell anyone are factors that affect so many men who have been sexually abused either in their childhood or subsequently.
His belief is that there are many others – potentially hundreds, he says – who are living with their own secrets involving Bennell alone. We know that this applies far more widely and that he is chillingly correct. It is sad that it takes the courage of individuals to come forward in order to raise awareness of the prevalence and harm done as a result of male sexual abuse. We must ensure that this issue is given the prominence that it requires and that there is appropriate emotional and other support for those whose lives have been so terribly blighted by the experience.
– Keith Best, SurvivorsUK’s CEO