Hansa Pankhania, Director of AUM Consultancy shares her thoughts on the Jimmy Saville story that has shocked the nation:
We have all heard about and been disturbed by the Jimmy Saville child abuse story, but perhaps the most disturbing part of the whole episode is that it is a situation that could affect ourselves, our friends, our families and the companies we work for. In this post, I would like to shares my thoughts on how abuse can impact us, both on a personal and corporate level, and how we may overcome this:
– Young Children are innocent and it makes me wonder how they may be interpreting and trying to make sense of what’s been said repeatedly in the media about the Jimmy Saville sexual abuse story. Up to a certain age their concept of sexual behavior is limited. If your child asks questions after having inadvertently absorbed the media content, then make time to sit down with your child and clarify healthy sexual boundaries.
– Sadly, there are individuals and organised gangs who will exploit and manipulate teenagers as they try to make sense of sexual maturity. Abusers will threaten and manipulate you into secrecy to protect themselves, but remember this is to protect them NOT YOU. Always find a trusted individual or agency to talk to. The only way out of an abuse situation is to talk to someone or to disclose this to the police.
– You may have a child/relative/friend who has been abused. Often we want to support them but do not know how, as this can sometimes best be done by contacting a trained professional. The worst that can happen is not to believe your child or teenager when it has taken immense courage to tell a parent. Keep communication with your children open and invite them to talk to you about things that they may not be happy about on a regular basis (don’t forget to celebrate the things they are happy about!). Notice any changes in behaviour e.g. withdrawal, abnormal eating and sleeping patterns, substance abuse, rage and angry outbursts, skipping school or college. If they are not responding to you to open up, then they may do so with another relative or teacher.
– As for me personally, I fail to understand the insensitivity and ignorance of an adult who can traumatise and destroy a child, teenager or adult for the sake of their sexual gratification. What horrifies me more is how other people can collude in this conspiracy. Call me naive, but it is something I truly cannot comprehend even after having worked with countless abused clients.
– What is the impact of all this on your performance at work? If you have been affected by it then do you feel supported by colleagues or your manager? Does the behavior of certain colleagues amount to sexual harassment and bullying? By not speaking up you may be allowing this behavior to continue. Always try to find the courage to speak to somebody within your company and tell them what has happened. Refer to your organisation’s policy concerning harassment.
– Turning a blind eye to unacceptable behavior, sexual or otherwise, is bad management practice and never in the best interests of yourself or your team. It will inevitably decrease capability and revenues, as well as harming the company’s respect and reputation. Listen to your staff and deal with unacceptable behavior.
– Are your policies and procedures on bullying and harassment on paper only and are you implementing them fully? If they are there gathering dust then maybe here is another situation where a cover up will be exposed soon………..!!! If your company doesn’t have an up to date policy and guidance for protecting harassed employees, then they are neglecting their duty of care.
– If you have been a victim of abuse then the experience is being carried in your body and psyche until you get help in processing it and coming to terms with it with the help of a trained professional. Signs that this is still locked in your body are if you are experiencing flashbacks, anger at the perpetrator and others, destructive behaviour e.g. self harm, physical and mental health concerns, difficulty in relationships, intimacy in relationships, guilt and anger at self, low esteem and confidence, anxiety and phobias, to name just a few.
Get help now, it will not leave your body and psyche until you deal with it. Do not carry this for the rest of your life, you deserve better. Remember this was never your fault in the first place.
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