Benefits payments and abuse

Benefits payments are not just made to lazy cheats who refuse to work. For some, benefits can mean the difference between barely managing to survive and suicide.

Before the new Pope was inaugurated media headlines seemed full of stories about children who were sexually abused by priests. Of course, priests aren’t the only abusers and sexual abuse isn’t the only way in which children are damaged. Physical and emotional abuse take their toll. And abuse is far more prevalent than we like to admit.

Disability isn’t restricted to physical damage and deformity. One the most depressing aspect of abuse is that abused children often become socially withdrawn adults incapable of living a normal life; abuse can result in apparently normal people being unable to function within society because of their experiences.

Some are so damaged that they find it impossible to trust anyone. They cannot work, they cannot join clubs or societies. They survive by isolating themselves from society, some receiving therapy, some surviving by their own devices because therapy has been unable to help them.

Some can be seen shuffling down the road, unwashed, unkempt. Some manage to keep themselves clean and tidy but as soon as they are faced with having to interact with other people immediately withdraw into their shells.

Of course, some victims can put their abuse behind them and function normally. They can hold down a job, maintain relationships, have families and bring up their own children. Others cannot. For them, benefits aren’t a lifestyle; they are necessary for their very survival.

By lumping everyone on benefits as shirkers, by labelling abuse victims as benefits cheats, politicians like David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith are causing the suffering of abuse victims to continue, indeed to become far worse. Ans all those who are jumping on the bandwagon and ranting that they shouldn’t have to pay benefits from their taxes are just as culpable, just as guilty as those who committed the original abuse.

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