Former Abused Scout Steps Out Of The ShadowsDecember 19, 2011 No Comments
In sex abuse cases, confidentiality clauses silence the victim and free the perpetrator. But there may be an end in sight.
Scouts Canada has made the decision not to pursue victims who break their vow of silence by publicly speaking out about their experiences of sexual abuse.
After suffering sexual abuse at the hands of a Scouts Canada leader beginning when he was 14, Terry Gillespie signed a confidentiality agreement in exchange for money. And he did keep silent for decades, but finally Gillespie came forward with his story.
At first, his identity was not revealed on The National, as he remained fearful of the consequences of breaking the confidentiality clause he signed so long ago. That was until Steve Kent, Scouts Canada’s chief commissioner, said the organization “was willing to lift the confidentiality clauses contained in some of the out-of-court settlements reached with victims of abuse.”
As much as Kent may wish to protect the organization from scandal, which could deter young boys from participating in the program, he doesn’t want to deprive victims of what seems like their fundamental human right — the freedom of speech. For Gillespie, coming out of the shadows is a healing process, a way to cleanse himself from all of the “shame and secrecy” he has been living with since his adolescence.
Speaking out may also inspire other victims to follow suit. Of course the situation is different for each individual. Not everyone is going to want to speak publicly about their experience of sex abuse, and that’s okay. But at least those that want to come forward are now able to, whether it’s to heal, break the cycle of victimization, help others, or just raise awareness.
It seems that Gillespie’s voice has also impacted Scouts Canada. On December 8, they issued an apology to all former scouts who were sexually abused by leaders in the organization. Acknowledging sexual assault happens may be a significant step in Scouts Canada’s own cleansing process.
We can only hope that Gillespie encourages other victims to come out of their isolation and tell their stories because nobody should have to live in the shadows.
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