Jimmy Savile

11/10/12 | Posted by Ian Black

The number of women coming forward to say they were abused by the late Jimmy Savile is rising by the day. The police officer in charge of looking at these cases took the unusual step of labelling him a predatory paedophile. A childhood hero for millions has fallen into disgrace. His family now have to come to terms with squaring the person they knew with the person they didn't know. It was complicated further by a friend of his from one of the many charities he was involved with talking of his outstanding bedside manner with the sick and dying. Labelling people like him as monsters fails to grapple with just how complicated abuse is.

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Anyone who has walked the landings of a sex offenders unit in a prison or had anything to do with safeguarding knows that those who offend can be very charming, polite and engaging people.  They rarely come with warning signs tattooed across their foreheads and can do much good in the mix with the harm they do.  It makes it all the harder to deal with.  It’s easy to be shaken to the core and wonder who can be trusted after all.  In the middle of this a young girl is still missing in Wales, though a man has been charged with her murder.  The public response to this was to turn out in their hundreds and search for her, even in demanding and inhospitable territory and weather. That is the majority of people.  A predatory celebratory makes the headlines because it is not the norm.  Most people are trustworthy and decent and we need to remember this when the shock of a fallen hero resounds around our ears.

The Old Testament writer of Psalm 36 knew that mixed in with our virtue is a malaise which he called sin.  This whispers in the heart and when there is no fear of being found out, be it eternally or more immediately, the sense of consequences is diminished.  The sin is within.  When passions are stirred we all have to watch where they lead.  Directed healthily we can flourish.  When the freedom and dignity of the other is not regarded, a line is crossed and abuse and evil result.  No one exists just for someone else’s pleasure.  That view is always a road to destruction and harm.  It is the road worn by those addicted to pornography, which is being normalised, as well as those who force themselves on another.

I can only begin to imagine the wreckage and mess which Jimmy Savile has left in his wake.  It will take some time to clear up and much of it will only be addressed in the healing redemption of God.  For the women whose stories are now being taken seriously, after so long a silence, there will be the knowledge that it did happen and it happened to others.  That can help with coming to terms with it and place it in some kind of context.  Jimmy’s memory is now destroyed.  The gravestone has been removed and it will be a long time before that grave can be marked again, if anyone ever bothers.

Here faith does help.  It provides a place to lay the pains and screams that can’t be easily removed.  They can be laid at the foot of the cross and held in the redeeming blood of Christ.  There are times when I find myself offering this as I preside at the Eucharist.  The cup which we share is a sharing in God who takes responsibility and draws these pains into his own self.  There is nowhere else they can be held and nowhere else offers them hope.

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Having just read what you’ve posted about Jimmy Saville I wanted to let you know that your words in the last paragraph; about faith and how we can lay the pains and screams at the foot of the cross and how in sharing these with God he draws this into his own self;was of huge comfort to me as a victim of child abuse. Although it was decades ago it has plagued my life and the fact that God is able to take this burden from me really gives me hope. Thank you so much.

#1. By R Collin on October 18, 2012

My sons, 7 & 9, suffered sexual abuse by a popular school teacher.  He also worked with the youth @ church.  Everyone believed him to be a good, Christian man, but he harboured a dark secret.

The night before his Court case, he hung himself. He left un-answered questions and no sense of closure/ acknowledgement for his victims.  It was a terrible thing, had awful consequences.

We weren’t able to come to terms with it.  The school/church brushed it under the carpet after his suicide & it was forgotten.  I lost faith.

This was 15 years ago, & we still carry the scars.  I weep when I think about it.  My 2 sons have pushed it to the back of their minds.

I have sympathy for Saville’s victims.  He got away with it because of his popularity/celebrity status.  I pray that those affected find peace. His sins have come to light, & they have been heard & believed.  Perhaps there is closure, even though he is dead & took his sins to the grave.

#2. By J Marsh on November 08, 2012

The last paragraph is the only paragraph that can be borne on this one.
Good that such wrong is named for what it is.
Honest that the struggle to overcome be acknowledged. God is merciful.
Good if skilled help is given to those who have suffered in inner silence; with hidden outer turmoil beyond, reasonable limits.
But for many the media with it words and photographs can itself be too much and it’s portrayal too voyeuristic. Even that badge becomes painful to view.
The last paragraph is the one which speaks. This cry going up in the Eucharist is good.
A place to lay the pains and screams is good.
That these can be drawn into the redeemer is good.
Light in the darkness. Hope. New pathways. Good.

#3. By J on November 19, 2012

Am I right that the enquiry about Jimmy Saville (ans others) has not yet started, never mind reached a conclusion? 

Surely we could forbear coming to conclusions until this has been done? 

What happened to innocent till proved guilty?

Vigilante-ism?  Again?

#4. By Jill on November 21, 2012

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