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 One the most depressing aspect of abuse is that abused children often become socially withdrawn adults incapable of living a normal life; abuse can result in apparently normal people being unable to function within society because of their experiences.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.


Child Abuse

A new database of children’s hospital visits is to be set up to identify possible child abuse cases. What I would like to know is: will a record be kept of abuse carried out by doctors and nurses?

My concern is not theoretical but based on experience. I had a profoundly brain damaged daughter, Susan. She was the second born of twins. My wife and I were told soon after the birth that she had suffered brain damage cause by the cord being wrapped around her neck. However, our GP at the time wasn’t satisfied with the explanation and we began a judicial review. It turned out that the explanation was a lie; the damage was caused by an injection of a drug to contract my wife’s womb and expel the afterbirth being given by a doctor who did not check her first. Susan was crushed by the sudden contraction. Despite evidence to the contrary, no doctor would agree negligence was a factor. In fact, one ‘expert’ said he had no intention of ruining a young doctor’s career because of an accident. It didn’t matter that a child’s life had been destroyed; for doctors, their careers are more important than a child’s life.

Susan suffered many problems. A recurring theme was severe pain caused by tendons not growing at the same rate as bone growth. She had many operations to cut her tendons. In one instance, at Buckland Hospital, Dover, the surgeon decided an operation was not necessary and instructed a nurse to press down on Susan’s leg. On her return home, Susan wouldn’t stop screaming. We took her back to the hospital where it was found that her femur had been broken by the pressure applied by the nurse. Our complaint resulted in an apology but it was clear the nurse would have been blamed yet she was merely carrying out instructions given to her by a consultant. We took the complaint no further because we didn’t want to see a relatively innocent nurse sacked for a decision caused by an uncaring and pompous consultant. This is the way doctors wriggle out of responsibility. Would a database have recorded the abuse suffered by my daughter? I doubt it.

Susan eventually went into a Home for severely disabled. She died while being fed by a nurse. We later found out that she was the fourth child to die in similar circumstances. The Home was closed and the abuse hushed up. Would those events have been recorded? Again, I somehow doubt it.

How many parents will be blamed for the actions of doctors and nurses? I dread to think.

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