Friday, October 05, 2012

The Jimmy Savile Situation

I can still remember exactly what I was wearing, a royal blue cordouroy skirt and a royal blue tee shirt with a little red and blue pattern on the front, the left side.  It was a new outfit, I was going to a birthday party, I was seven. My mum said why didn't I go to our neighbours house to show Lily my new outfit. Lily and her husband didn't have kids and so she doted on me as her own.

I knocked the door and after a time, a strange man answered. I asked if Lily was in and through broken English, he told me she was not but beckoned me in, he told me she wouldn't be long. He was huge, I remember, with a massive bushy beard. I vaguely knew he was a holy man but that's it. I was very shy and his English wasn't great, so we didn't speak much.  He asked me to come over to him, and as I did so, he sat me on his knee.  Then he abused me.  I can still feel the bristles of his beard against my cheekbone, going into my eye as he did what he did.

I was only seven. I knew I didn't like what was happening, and I thought it was wrong, but I didn't comprehend how wrong.  It happened a couple more times afterwards, when Lily was out. I soon learned to never go to Lily's when I knew he was there.

So, did I tell anyone about my abuse? Well quite simply the answer to that is no.  Why? Because I was a scared child and he was a grown up, a holy man, quite high up in his faith. I didn't think anyone would believe me, I didn't want to hurt Lily, she was my friend and I didn't tell my parents because I was scared of what would happen.

Now let's cut to me, age 17/18. Repressed memories was the name of the game. I heard from Lily that my abuser had died. The memories all came flooding back to me and I broke down. I was free, but I still didn't tell my parents because I was still scared. And I daren't tell Lily. I eventually didn't tell my mum until I was about 24.  And she believed me, and she cried with me and she was angry she called him all the names under the sun. She asked me why I hadn't told her and I explained that I was scared, how I knew it was wrong but as I was only seven I didn't know just how wrong it was.  Also, I said I didn't know if she'd believe me, and that I didn't want to hurt Lily, and have her hate me...

All of which brings me to the current news surrounding the late Jimmy Savile. Having watched Exposure on Wednesday night, I felt had a sort of connection with the survivors of his abuse. The fear that if you said anything, no one would believe you, the fear of alienation by your family/peers. But the thing I think that has angered me are the people saying 'well, why wait til he's dead? He can't defend himself'. I can't speak for those he abused, but in my case, I waited until my abuser was dead because I was old enough to comprehend what was done to me by then, and just how wrong it was. Jimmy Savile's survivors knew that it was wrong, one in fact, a resident at a Dunford School for Girls was placed in isolation after her accusation:

Charlotte, was 14 when she first met Savile. She revealed how she was even punished after telling teachers he had assaulted her in his caravan.  

"I remember that I sat on his lap. And then I felt this hand sort of go up my jumper and on my breast. I absolutely freaked out.  Then I was just dragged out of the caravan by two of the staff... and told what a filthy mouth I have, how can I make those terrible accusations, Uncle Jimmy does nothing but good for the school. I was taken to the isolation unit, left there for two or three days."

How could you accuse someone at the top of their game in the entertainment field of child abuse? Look at the hate campaign against the woman raped by Ched Evans, labelled a slut and a whore because she accused and successfully prosecuted him.  To use the claim 'He can't defend himself as he isn't here anymore' is little more than victim blaming and there is never EVER any excuse for that.

The truth is, someone with Jimmy Savile's level of fame and his connections, was just let get on with it.  As Paul Gambacinni stated Jimmy's work for charity seemed to cover up the fact that he was a paedophile.  And all the stars and celebrities who knew and turned a blind eye to the horrific abuse he carried out should hang their heads in shame.  As the saying goes 'All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing'.


  1. Brave post, Tara - I think you're right, too. Someone as famous as him, in the time it was, was probably left to get on with it. Which is disgraceful.

  2. Incredibly brave post Tara, everything you've written will resound with other survivors. We need to ditch this attitude where we don't believe the victim because we don't believe the abuser could be an abuser and get victims to come forward without fear of reprisal.

  3. Your strength and bravery, Tara, has moved me. NO EXCUSE can be made for Saville or indeed ANY person you carries out such an offence. Thank you for sharing your story.


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