Victims of abuse

I recently listened to the Moral Maze on Radio 4. in the wake of the suicide of Frances Andrade. The closing remarks struck a chord. Do victims of abuse have a moral obligation to “out” the abuser or testify? My answer would be a definitive “NO”.

A number of my clients have been abused, some of them horrifically, by both parents or other family members – or indeed strangers – over many years. Some have taken a decision to move on with their lives, put it behind them (and in some cases the abuse has been cruel and systematic) but the danger is past and why would they want to relive it all when, whilst it has shaped them, it is firmly in their past.

For others the ramifications to their family, their children’s families and their wider environment would bring their whole world crashing down. They take the decision to take precautions to protect vulnerable family members where necessary but not to “out” the abuser and I have to respect that decision.

So, some victims are more vulnerable than others. We need to protect the innocent but we also have to respect the individual’s decision to testify or not to testify without apportioning blame.