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Escape and Healing

24 Dec

domestic-abuse-birmI want to move on from some of the discussions of the last while on here. With a desire to regain some of my privacy and to move on in my own healing I intend this to be my last personal comment on my experiences of abuse for the foreseeable future. As Christmas is a time of high-stress, high alcohol consumption, and a spike in domestic abuse it seems like an appropriate time to bring this personal thread to a close.

Stepping forward and naming the abuse I experienced for what it is, is important. While it was happening I spoke about it,  I documented it,  I reached out for help – privately. But there was also an element of shame, a fear. I’m a man who was abused by a woman, we aren’t often believed, as a society we’ve been programmed to turn a blind eye to many telling signs that someone’s relationship is less than healthy; statistically men are more likely to be the abusers but not all men.

Fear is a powerful weapon. And so is shame. And many abusers use variations on gaslighting to make us question our sanity and reality. Psychological abuse is perhaps the deepest wound of all, prodding us for ages to come. If we doubt ourselves,  how will anybody else believe?  Add to that the shame of mental health issues and it becomes intensely unmanageable.

So for me, writing about the affects the situation has had on me, and on my mental health, this is my resistance. My way of saying ‘no,  this isn’t on’. It’s about being strong, standing up to the bullying and distortions, even though I live in constant fear of them intruding into my life again.

For now I am content that I have it on record that these things happened to me. Both in this heavily redacted form and in more detail through official channels. It has meant I am no longer hiding from it all. I am not living trapped by the unknown retaliations and ambiguous threats.

eggshellsEscaping Abuse

My advice to anyone living with abuse is to talk. Get your safety net around you. Friends, family, professionals will all be able to help monitor you,  and can assist when you decide to escape. You’ll almost certainly need them. Even if you’re holding back on details, they’ll be better prepared for the revelations to follow. It may be that some of them are victims or ex-victims too.

Speak to organisations who help abuse victims. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to the police. They’ll advise and when appropriate they will investigate and arrest. Things may get worse before they get better,  but don’t back down. Once you start to wrestle back control of your life abusers will intensify their rage but you’ll have started the clock on your freedom. Going through legal channels can be challenging and time-consuming but you’ll be adding to your safety net.

Talk to your GP. It’s a private situation and you can hide your purpose in visiting easily. If you’re being physically hurt, a GP can see the evidence for themselves and record it. Similarly any psychological matters.

coerciveRecord incidents. Write down the details, store it in a book, in a private google doc, whatever means is safest. Details of what happened, when, how its affecting you. It may be that you aren’t prepared to admit a relationship is abusive until you actually can see the pattern of behaviour for yourself. Its also really useful to have a diary to refer to when someone is making false accusations about your whereabouts. Most people have an audio recorder on their mobile telephone these days – you can always secretly record rows and conversations for evidence. And where possible save and record any abusive voice messages you receive. One of the scariest thing about many abusers is that they flip all your criticisms, all your allegations back on you in a bid to discredit you and make you ponder reality. It disarms you. But its like a child simply parroting your language, fingers in ears, and saying “I know you are but what am I?”

It takes most people a long time to get out of an abusive situation, and you’ll need help after too, but it is there. It might sometimes feel like a ‘he said she said’ situation, but honesty will see you right in the end.

breakthesilenceHealing

I’ve heard enough people trying to tell me that friends believe my version of events, but that isn’t enough. In order to put a stop to these behaviours it isn’t your friends you need to convince. I’ve been manipulated so many times that I have wondered if things were really as bad as I say. Time will do that to you, it can numb your memories, as you try and put the bad stuff behind you. I’ve gone back through my notes, emails, texts, recordings and legal documents. Every time I do my head is taken right back into that particular quarter of hell. Doing it over the summer helped push me into the worst breakdown I’ve experienced in years – reliving experiences while not being monitored was risky. My therapist asked me why I did it, when it was more than clear I’ve been telling the truth. But I’d received messages that suggested I was making everything up, that none of the things I alleged ever happened. More gaslighting. But its there, in black and white. And the evidence is backed up, and supported by numerous individuals and experts.

To heal, I cannot keep getting dragged into this. I can’t have my abuser hanging over me like some spectre from the past, a shadowy cancer on my sanity and sense of self. No amount of trolling is going to silence me. No threats will have me pretend these things didn’t happen.  Readers of this blog don’t have a clue regarding the full details, the context, or the individual (verifiable) incidents in a lengthy campaign of abusive behaviour.

I know that I am angry that I have not and will not receive any kind of justice for these wrongs. I will never get so much as an admission of wrong-doing, let alone a prosecution or peace of mind. Instead I have witnessed bursts of intimidating behaviour, my sanity has been continuously questioned, and I continue to be on my guard. I accept the failings of a system that has allowed this to go undealt with. I have long recognised the relationship with my abuser as being particularly poisonous. I accept that my abuser either cannot see the wrong in their actions towards me, or can but daren’t risk admitting any accountability.

If it comes to it, I am prepared to elaborate my claims with supporting evidence in court. Not that I want to embarrass myself on network tv either, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve considered a polygraph test and the Jeremy Kyle show either. I know that my abuser has spun a different story about what happened – I’m sure it has elements of truth, but lacking context, alongside fabrications and slanders, and like good friends and relatives I am sure she has her own network of people who believe every word uttered. I have no reason to lie about what happened to me, but I suspect that strangers are less likely to believe the word of a man than a woman in these matters. Until the Northern Irish government catches up with the rest of the UK and introduces legislation on coercive control, thousands of men and women like me will continue to suffer.

bccdvgirl-4Being an incredibly self-aware person, much time has been spent working through my experiences, sometimes too openly and honestly, but always sincerely. I take ownership of my failings, my errors in judgement, my poor handling of personal and professional situations. I’ve taken ownership of my mental health issues, I’ve got support in place now for any time they should ever spiral out of control again, and I’m working round the other issues that I can. Me now is not me six months ago even. I’ve come to recognise my negatives and my plusses. I’m still incredibly anxious about relationships, but I’ve learned that I can manage them, I can be a normal human being and not feel guilt or fear. I’ve learned to trust people again. And I’ve also learned to feel love for another human being. That didn’t seem possible a year ago. I am sorry for bringing so much of this into other relationships, friendships etc., it puts a pressure on people I hadn’t realised. That’s why healing is important – it takes the burden from others to pick up the pieces.

I will never completely heal. Abuse victims don’t. We carry our scars like barely healed wounds. The right scratch and they open up again. But we can monitor them, we can ensure we have the right medicine and aftercare in place. The right friend on the end of a phone, or a needed hug. A counsellor, medication, the authorities, a blog. All have their place and are part of our arsenal.

For now I have said about all I can on my matter. All I want to say. I don’t intend to dwell on this unfortunate past any further. Because it is my past. It is not my present and will not be my future. It happened, but it does not define me. I define me. I am bruised, not beaten; damaged but not broken; flawed, but a gem, precious if you would but look.

 

NOTE: The images here are from various campaigns across the UK to address various kinds of abuse. If you recognise any of these from your own or a friend’s experiences, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call. The Police service across the UK will give advice on the free non-emergency 101 number. Or in the case of emergency, call 999.

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Trigger me this Facebook

16 Nov
A LIFE magazine still for Hans Richter's film Dreams That Money Can Buy (1946)

A LIFE magazine still for Hans Richter’s film Dreams That Money Can Buy (1946)

Trauma and depression are difficult enough to live with, the scars left by episodes remain raw no matter how long the healing has been. The tiniest scratch and the wound starts weeping. Before you know it, you’ve been transported back to another place and another episode is in full flow. At least that’s my experience.

You will no doubt be familiar with the idea that certain smells in particular can transport you back into your memory banks – that waft of perfume as you walk along the street, an odour in a restaurant – but it isn’t unique to scent. Images and sounds can do the same thing. I’ve written before about the importance of memory and images, and there are songs that take me back to very specific moments in my youth and revitalise long-forgotten feelings. While this can be a therapeutic and pleasant experience for those of us who have lived with abuse, or suffered mental breakdowns, memory is a tricky terrain to negotiate.

Social media is rich with trigger potential. Many of us share the sort of insights into our private lives that a decade ago would have been deemed inappropriate. We detail our travels, our partners, our dinners, our very bowel movements. Go far enough back into our public profiles and we’ll find traces of a life we’ve moved on from – our younger selves, warts and all.

Facebook in particular provides a daily digest of memories without any sort of filtration system at all. Their ‘On This Day‘ brings up posts you made or were tagged in on/around today’s date in years gone past. Among the cute pictures of animals and family and work outings are things I don’t wish to recall, let alone reshare with those around me. This time of year it turns out is packed full of them, and those Facebook memories are at least partly responsible for triggering my last break down.

I like to recall nice memories, but I’ve been on social media long enough now that there are also memories of previous partners and my lives with them, which played out at least partly in a public/semi-public sphere. Friends/spectators will recall at least some of the drama, but generally have the good decency not to bring it up when we meet. Unlike Facebook, which deems it appropriate to regale me with anecdotes from not only the partners I remain fond of, but also those I am not.

Today’s memories include jaunts to London (no change there then), moving house, publicity on the magazine I edited that I later learned was being published by two con-artists, photos of my abusive partner and examples of comments that might have come across to some as wit, but which read now like mild examples of the abusive treatment I lived with for too long.

I cannot completely avoid this. I’ve untagged myself from various things, made other images and posts private. But I also have issues with denying the past ever happened. Much of it is a matter of public record anyway, so editing seems somehow disrespectful and false. And unhelpful to my healing. Being reminded of the shit that was foisted upon me simply serves to strengthen my resolve, but there is a cost. Some of the memories trigger further memories and its frightening. I don’t want to delete my profile and start again because within the memories of abuse there are also stories of friendships past, loved ones lost and much positivity – how to balance that? A friend of mine with very similar experiences simply deleted their profile completely – too overwhelming was the triggers from the past, the negative memories. For me doing that would remove what little good I had from my own period of abuse and would run counter to my policy of being open as a coping mechanism.

If I’m completely frank, I fucking hate this. I never know which memories are going to be revived on which days. I don’t know which will trigger a period of negative association. Sometimes I can see a photo from then and its fine. Other days, I’ve encountered other triggers and the cumulative effect becomes too much to handle. My abuser has always denied any form of abuse took place (a common practice with abusers it seems). But images provoke strong memories from me. And sometimes the words, photos, video, audio files support my memory of events which causes even more triggers.

Immediately before I had my most recent breakdown I had been going through old files. A bunch of Facebook memories had started the process, then I came across a set of old photographs – images in that tricky area of not being enough to set off a trigger by themselves, but in association with other data they do. And then there were the recordings – listening to my own voice filled with terror and anxiety, voice mails left by my abuser – I daren’t even contemplate it deeply because of how they set me off last time. That narrative I have repeatedly been told (by my abuser) that suggests I am a fabricator of facts, quickly vanishes and accompanied by solid proof I recall exactly how things were. How alone and fragile and scared I was. How vulnerable it has made me today.

Our social media accounts are usually rife with false positivity. We cultivate an online image that presents ourself in our best light. We admit to our successes and over-egg minor achievements and ignore our failings, our stresses, our depressions. Consequently when the shit hits the fan, those around us sit bewildered by the sudden change. The late Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner used to remind audiences that ‘the memory cheats’, and the same can be true of Facebook memories. The false positivity can ignore much of the problems, and the casual observer might be lulled back into a false sense of nostalgia and lost hope. In an instance of an abusive partner they might forget the problems with drink or drugs, they might overlook the coercive controlling behaviour, and almost certainly will never find a trace of the physical abuses suffered. We forget the warning signs and we end up repeating our mistakes, and push away those who offer an alternative. Certainly I’m scared of those in whom I recognise myself – but they’re the only people who really get it, because they’ve lived it and neither they nor I wish to suffer like that again. Others can be sympathetic, but they lack the true empathy needed to keep us strong.

My own social media history fluctuates between the brave face of positivity – and I can usually tell when I’ve been coerced into posting something vaguely positive – and out and out cries for help. I’ve seen them come up in my feed before – moments where I’ve been threatened, where I’m struggling to make sense of a relationship spiraling downwards. Times where I’ve outed myself before some dark aspect of myself is utilised as a weapon against me. It still happens. I’m free of my abuser, but not their impact on my life. So afraid have I been that I’ve been overprotective of myself, family and potential partners. Just when I think I’m okay again, Facebook reminds me of what I went through at their hands and why I remain on my guard.

For someone who has made his professional life based around the past and nostalgia I am at a loss for how to proceed with my own past – particularly one which social media has decreed I must recall when I really don’t want to. Deletion is denial. It absolves those who persecute our thoughts. Admission provokes anxiety, tension and further depression.

The absence of intimacy in a post-abuse life

27 Jun
A Ghost of My Former Self. © Robert JE Simpson 2016

A Ghost of My Former Self.
© Robert JE Simpson 2016

People ask me how I am and I say I’m fine, but I’m not. Not really. Comparatively I’m in a better, happier place in my life, but the scars left from an abusive relationship run deep. And it seems hardly a day goes by without something reminding me of the trauma. And I’m angry about that.

You see it ruined my life.  Physically, mentally, permanently. Abuse took away my creativity, my ambition, my career, my confidence. I nearly lost my freedom and my sanity. And so today I sit alone, so distrustful of people that I seriously think I might never have another relationship again.

Today I am a solitary, celibate sort. Three years ago I made the decision to refrain from carnal congress and it remains that way today. I don’t think I’d even know what to do now, it’s been so long. Sex just isn’t important in my life. My last experiences were unpleasant, manipulative and traumatic. I was violated, coerced, abused. And eventually left a mental wreck.

I’ve lost what confidence I had. And while there have been flirtations, I’m incapable of being forward enough to form a physical bond it seems. I run away when the heat builds. I wonder what the catch is this time.

And that’s a shame. If I was one of my friends I’d be worried and sad for me that I had been robbed of the ability to form intimate connections.

And I guess that while I say sex doesn’t matter, I feel that absence. No girlfriend, no fuck buddy, no casual encounters, nothing.

I voice this messed up narrative and it compounds reasons why people wouldn’t want to deal with me. They don’t understand necessarily that I don’t spent time thinking about my abuser (though the simple fact is that she will remain in denial of the truth of her abusive behaviour til the day she dies), but I do spend time thinking about the abuse. I do worry I’ll put my trust in the wrong person again. I worry that I’ll become trapped again. I worry I will be violated once more. I’m sitting here writing with my stomach in knots, twisted with anxiety and frustration at the man I seem to have become – an incomplete person, a tattered shell of a human being. And the more I encounter people and fail to connect the worse those knots become, the more ingrained the damage.

Assembling material for a recent photographic exhibition inadvertently took me back to dark places. Each image unlocked a swathe of memories including those of times before and times after. I realise now I’d included material connected to my processes – ones taken on the day I decided I’d had enough, days I sported physical evidence of the ordeals, places I went to escape. A new anger grew.

An anger at the time wasted. At the opportunities thrown away. A PhD I had to put on hold because of ill-health, ill-health caused by daily abuse. Friends I lost because of a dozen reasons…. A promising business project that ended up miscarried rather than mature. Anger at the happiness I was promised and the torture I received.

As best as I try, my life has changed. I don’t exist in the same mental space any more. I’ve tried running away from and facing reminders and neither particularly helps. Since my therapy reached its end I’ve ended up stewing in my thoughts alone, not able to share much of it with another. Until it comes blurting out. On a date a few months ago some details came out in answer to a relevant question. Chatting about my creative work, and it starts to spill out because I realise it is inextricably linked to my life experiences. Decay and trauma have become recurrent themes across my photography, theatre and film projects.

But it is in my personal/intimate life that I hurt the most. I ended up feeling that sex was something I had to do when called – an obligation. It was linked with physical pain and mental anguish. I was confronted with questions about my sexuality – a push to view myself in a way I did not feel. I was made to feel guilty about past relationships and experiences – persuaded to distrust the genuine nature of those moments. And yet in turn I learned that my abuser was not to be trusted either. My abuser lied, but I am still left doubting everyone else I have ever encountered. I feel today that I have not felt genuine love or lust. Simply I have been a tool to be manipulated. It haunts my dreams still, my latent thoughts. Every time I take the plunge into online dating sites I feel there will be an inevitable manipulation and so its easier just not to bother.

I am empty and lonely inside. In pain. Upset. Fucked up.

Why did my abuser target me? What did she gain from it? Does she treat others the same way? If so why? If not, why not? Nobody deserves to live through what I lived through, no matter how hideous an individual they may be. I don’t think I’ll ever understand, I’ll never get an apology, I’ll never get justice. And without those I’ll probably never have complete closure – I’ll never be able to move on.

These are scars I carry with me. Scars that some cannot look beyond. Or scars that I think some cannot look beyond. My massive trust issues prevent me from even beginning to allow anyone to get close. Those that do are unlikely to become lovers, either because I wouldn’t let them or they simply aren’t interested. I’m too scared of letting someone in and being let go. I’m a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The upshot of it all it seems, is that I am suffering from some form of PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. At times manageable, at times not. It is like the abuse is continuing, even though I am far from the source. How can I explain this to friends and family let alone new people? Its internalised mostly. It’s worse the more its internalised. If I’m talking about it in person it means I’m trusting you – or trying to trust you. I’m probably testing you subconsciously. Because frankly, I don’t know to deal with this on my own.

 

 

 

The plight of male victims of domestic abuse

10 Feb
image

PSNI poster for Domestic Abuse help

When you hear the words ‘Domestic violence’ what do you picture? A woman being beaten by a man? A child living in terror of an overbearing father figure? A woman with bruised face, cowering indoors afraid to upset an unstable male partner?

Recently the BBC News reported on warnings that ‘Men need more help‘ with regards to domestic violence. The article cites statistics from Belfast-based Mens Advisory Project (MAP) which have seen an increase in numbers helped through the organisation from 294 in 2013 to 536 in 2015.

We now seem to live in a society that automatically thinks of domestic violence as something which is perpetrated solely by men, and nearly always against women. Men have become increasingly demonised with sweeping generalisations which automatically set up a gendered prejudice when we hear of troubles in relationships.

A grossly misleading and gender-biased column by Frances Ryan in The Guardian just a month ago is typical of the weighted phrasing:

“The biggest danger for a so-called civilised society is to convince itself domestic violence is inevitable – that women will always be beaten, raped or killed (often in their own homes) and that there’s just not much the state can do.”

The article repeatedly voices concern about the (very real) abuse suffered by women and children in the domestic setting, but ignores any mention of men other than as perpetrators. This isn’t a unique situation. When ‘Clare’s Law’ was announced, much of the news headlines were worded such as to suggest that it allowed women to check on whether their male partners had violent pasts, rather than more accurately advising the public that it allowed anyone to check into their partners’ histories (thus accepting the reality that not all relationships are heterosexual, and not all abusers are men).

While I have no wish to belittle the fear that many women experience through abusive relationships, they aren’t alone.

Domestic violence, and more widely domestic abuse (including the various forms of psychological abuse, coercive control and other abuses) is something that can happen to anyone, irrespective of age, gender, orientation or social class.

Organisations like MAP and Refuge are badly needed for those caught in the abuse cycles. But while women’s organisations receive headlines and vocal support, men’s groups – which are thinner on the ground – often go overlooked. Men are more likely to suffer in silence, mostly through fear. Typically men appear to be physically larger, stronger, more dominant than their female partners. How likely is it that they are the ones to be struck rather than striking? There is a fear for many that they wont be believed. The judicial system simply doesn’t know how to deal with instances of men raped by women, conviction is highly unlikely. Most men simply don’t report what’s happening to them. Of those that do, a tiny percentage actually follow through with reports or charges, and those that do seek help from counsellors often don’t show up.

The statistics reflect reported instances of abuse, not the level of abuse that actually occurs, and I strongly suspect that the true figure is much higher. Women’s Aid suggest that 90% of domestic abuse is perpetrated by men. The NHS suggests that 4% of men are on the receiving end of domestic abuse each year. In 2013 the Belfast Telegraph reported PSNI statistics that showed 25% of domestic violence incidents that year were against men – itself a 41% increase in number of incidents in a decade.

It would seem that the statistics support an idea that more men are coming forward and reporting incidents. Though this is likely still the tip of the iceberg.

I am one of the statistics. The MAP organisation is just one of several that came to my aid as I struggled to come to terms with my own long-term experiences of abuse. It took several years from my first search online for help to actually contact anyone. I had MAP’s details stored in my computer for months before I made a call and set up an appointment – which I then had to cancel. It took several more months for me to call again and set up my first appointment proper.

MAP weren’t the first (or the last) organisation I’d spoken to. But they have provided a vital lifeline for me, and much needed counselling and advice. I transitioned from the depths of despair to a status of normality over many many months with their help. I was finally able to talk to someone about my entire story, about details that I’d overlooked or buried when I first turned to official channels. Their work, and the work of organisations like them is crucial. They help men like me from being a silent statistic, they give us some power, some understanding, and a vital safe space.

For help:
Mens Advisory Project
Women’s Aid
NI Direct pages on Domestic Abuse

Too close for comfort: The sex trial of a reality tv star

7 Feb
Reality tv star and singer Jeff Anderson, performing in 2013.  Image © Robert JE Simpson.

Reality tv star and singer Jeff Anderson, performing in 2013.
Image © Robert JE Simpson.

Over the last few years we’ve become used to reevaluating childhood heroes as ongoing revelations of sex scandals rock iconic British entertainers. While the majority of us accept that the behaviors were wrong, there’s a temptation to dampen the impact with an acceptance that culture was different in the 60s and 70s. But for the most we’re at a distance – shocked but not directly affected.

Wednesday started oddly. Switching on my social media platforms I was presented with a link: “The Voice contestant Jeff Anderson charged in Downpatrick Court with 15 sexual offences“. Clicking on through I found myself somewhat agog at the list of offences, the result of a two-year investigation by police.

Not that a minor celebrity being accused of sexual crimes is anything new or particularly surprising, but this one struck a nerve because I’ve met Jeff and know him slightly. In fact he’s a friend of the family, and at one point a regular visitor to our house. My brother was drummer in a band with him. I’ve photographed him, filmed him, sat with him at dinner at family events. I’d even been talking with someone else in media circles about collaborating on a filmed project that would highlight Jeff and the band as it was pre-2013. For the first time I find myself taken back by the media reportage.

Seeing someone you know being hauled before the authorities like this is strange. The vitriol and comment freely made online (often uninformed) can be hard reading. Its like an out-of-body experience at times. The press is limited by law with regards what it can report. The general public doesn’t understand this, and in between wide speculations, fire insults and further accusations without any consideration for the wheels of justice. No matter how hard you look, you struggle to find someone going on record defending him (even though we live in a ‘innocent until proven guilty’ society). But there’s plenty of vocalised assumption that if an accusation is made then it must be true.

I last saw Jeff a year or so ago in a shop in Belfast’s Botanic – I popped him a tweet but didn’t hear back. Our last proper conversation would have been summer 2013. I’m not entirely sure when I first met him, several years prior to that I guess. In all that time on a personal level, I found him to be pleasant, a bit quiet, but friendly and polite. He’d had some success as a contestant on ITV’s Superstar series (causing the band to go on hiatus for a period), and coming back from that with ego suitably inflated, I can understand what people didn’t like about him, but overall no worse than many in this industry.

One has to separate one’s knowledge of the person and/or their work and the gravitas of the accusations in a case like this. No matter how likeable I found him in person, the charges all centre around a lack of consent, and as someone who has been at the wrong end of sexual abuse myself I cannot condone such behaviour, and I cannot help but view the charges through the tainted eyes of one who knows how difficult it is to take a stand against an abuser. In other words, on a personal level I’m not merely disappointed, but shocked and horrified. One strongly suspects that if the charges are only being made public now following a 2 year investigation then the PSNI (the Northern Irish Police) must have a decent body of evidence with which to proceed.

The list of charges as detailed here are:

  • Theft of photographs belonging to a female, June 2011.
  • Possession of an indecent photo or pseudo-photograph of a child, September 22, 2013.
  • Voyeurism – For the purposes of sexual gratification recording another doing a private act knowing that the other person did not consent to being recorded for the purposes of sexual gratification between August 2005 and March 2007.
  • Indecent assault on a female child between August 1, 2005 and March 31, 2007.
  • Possession of an indecent photo or pseudo-photograph of a child on September 22, 2013.
  • Possession of an indecent photo or pseudo-photograph of a child on September 22, 2013.
  • Voyeurism – For the purposes of sexual gratification recording another doing a private act knowing that the other person did not consent to being recorded for the purposes of sexual gratification between April 1, 2006 and May 31, 2006.
  • Indecent assault on a female child between April 1, 2006 and May 31, 2006.
  • Voyeurism – For the purposes of sexual gratification recording another doing a private act knowing that the other person did not consent to being recorded for the purposes of sexual gratification between January 1, 2010 and December 30, 2010.
  • Voyeurism – For the purposes of sexual gratification recording another doing a private act knowing that the other person did not consent to being recorded for the purposes of sexual gratification between January 1, 2010 and December 30, 2010.
  • Voyeurism – For the purposes of sexual gratification recording another doing a private act knowing that the other person did not consent to being recorded for the purposes of sexual gratification between January 1, 2012 and April 1, 2012.
  • Voyeurism – For the purposes of sexual gratification recording another doing a private act knowing that the other person did not consent to being recorded for the purposes of sexual gratification between May 2011 and February 2012.
  • Voyeurism – For the purposes of sexual gratification recording another doing a private act knowing that the other person did not consent to being recorded for the purposes of sexual gratification between May 2011 and May 2013.
  • Voyeurism – For the purposes of sexual gratification recording another doing a private act knowing that the other person did not consent to being recorded for the purposes of sexual gratification between November 1, 2011 and November 30, 2011.
  • Voyeurism – For the purposes of sexual gratification recording another doing a private act knowing that the other person did not consent to being recorded for the purposes of sexual gratification between February 2011 and August 2013.
  • Voyeurism – For the purposes of sexual gratification recording another doing a private act knowing that the other person did not consent to being recorded for the purposes of sexual gratification between December 15, 2012 and March 30, 2013.

Anderson is now 25 years of age. The charges date back to 2005 when he would have been 15.  Reading through the charges several make mention of voyeurism and assault on children. The charges relating to 2005-2007 presumably then involve minors at a time when Anderson himself was close in age or a minor himself. This doesn’t diminish the seriousness of the charge, but may indicate a slight muddying of the waters. This isn’t an instance of a 50 year old radio DJ preying on a 14 year old for sexual favours. We have yet to be given exact details of the crime of which he is accused, but its worth stressing that mention of ‘child’ in the charges doesn’t necessarily indicate a paedophilic element – an association we’ve come to expect from the Operation Yewtree investigations and which some media outlets have implicated in their use of ‘Child Sex’.

Its clear that there are multiple charges of voyeurism – that is taking pictures or videos of others without their knowledge. The charges cover the entire period of 2005-2013. The ages of the other parties are not given, nor is any further detail at this stage. The timescale involved means its impossible to view everything with any sort of excuse for the excess of youth. A man in his 20s cannot ignore the importance of consent.

Thankfully this is now in the hands of the PSNI and the courts, and he will be tried according to the evidence – not public opinion – and we have to put our faith in the justice system to handle him appropriately. With this there is also a responsibility to be careful what is posted on social media. A quick dig around over the last few days has uncovered further allegations and reading between the lines, alongside snide commentary which prejudges and potentially prejudices the case. Anyone who is part of the investigation or was in court needs to be particularly careful. Those who are privy to further information need to pass this on to the authorities and not broadcast accusations on social media, as sympathetic as I may feel to their frustration.

There may be other victims too who wish to make additional claims, and its vital that these are done through proper channels. It is incredibly difficult to put oneself forward in a prosecution like this, but the existing case may give extra comfort and support to anyone in that position. If you have further information that might be relevant to the case, get in touch with the PSNI.

Anderson it was reported, was driven off from court in a Jaguar – a comment I took to be an inference to his/his family’s affluence, and a subtle way to present him as unlikeable. That and mention of his beard – a needless reference considering every photo used in the stories includes his beard. Much is also made of his appearance on BBC’s The Voice, no doubt reminding readers of the ongoing sex scandals dating back as far as the 1960s featuring men employed by (but not only by) the BBC. Jeff appeared in one episode of the BBC1 show during the auditions, but didn’t get picked. His CV includes work as an extra on Series 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, and more notably ITV’s Superstar (2012) in which he made it through to Night 6 of the finals before going on to serve as understudy in the UK tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. He’s been involved in musical theatre and flitting between London and Ireland since then. The BBC end of things really is small in terms of his recognition and CV.

According to the reports in the press, he has been allowed to travel to London and Ireland while searching for work.  It remains to be seen how the entertainment industry greets someone awaiting trial for a string of sexual crimes.

Since news of the charges went public Anderson has removed most of his web presence. His Twitter has been deactivated, plus his Facebook and website. Other online presences haven’t been updated in some time. I’m not providing links as I don’t want to encourage harassment. Several members of his old band are on record as having not been involved with him in some time, and have stressed the importance of taking information to the police.

There will be those of course who don’t believe the charges, or won’t believe all of them. Those who know the man personally may find it difficult to equate the person they know to the person painted by the newspaper articles. There will be others who choose to say nothing. Silence is not something which should be punished – nobody has an obligation to express their opinions in public. I considered staying completely silent myself, but with previous blog posts relating to similar cases, and my own experiences of abuse, it would be an obvious omission if I didn’t raise the case. I’ll be following it and once it goes through the courts I’ll comment in more detail.