Every Victim Of Abuse Deserves An Apology by Zahra Awaiz-Bilal

I have reservations about posting lawyers information for several reasons. (I am not connected in any way with these individuals or solicitors)

However I think this is vital information, and if this is correct then there is no reason for more apologies not to be given. I think an apology is important and can be part of the healing process for victims and survivors. Previously I had thought an apology is not given for legal reasons, however this article makes it clear this is erroneous.

“The significance of an apology is, at present, overshadowed by an unfounded fear that it will be seen as an admission of guilt, that the individuals making the apology may incriminate themselves and this will lead to litigation.

But this is baseless. The Compensation Act 2006 states explicitly that an apology on its own will not amount to “an admission of negligence or breach of statutory duty”

There is no legal requirement for an apology, and these solicitors are running a campaign that there should be one introduced into law

Every Victim Of Abuse Deserves An Apology by Zahra Awaiz-Bilal [1]

The Assistant Chief Constable of West Midlands Police has apologised to the victims of serial paedophile Allan Richards this month, for letting them down by failing to investigate the allegations against him earlier. This failure allowed Richards’ crimes to go undetected for a number of years and led to the abuse of many others, which could have been prevented.

Victims of abuse are victims of some of the most heinous crimes committed in our society.

Where a wrong of the magnitude of Richards’ crimes is committed, there is no question that an apology must be the first step towards acknowledging that wrong and demonstrating respect for the victims. In fact, to not apologise in those circumstances would be objectively insulting.

One of the first social and moral lessons we learn as children, is the importance of apologising; whether it is for being mean to our siblings or misbehaving in front of guests, we are told to say sorry. And as we grow older, we realise further the importance of apologising in righting wrongs. Yet, the value of an apology as a remedy in law continues to be undermined.

Victims of abuse will have often experienced a violation of their dignity and betrayal of trust, which can have a huge impact on their emotional and psychological well-being. An apology can play an invaluable role in their healing process by addressing the very personal nature of the harm suffered, restoring the victims’ dignity by validating their experience and confirming that they did not do anything wrong.

Many victims of abuse carry a burden their whole life, thinking that they are to blame in some way for what happened. An apology has the power to shift that burden and blame from the victim to the wrongdoer.

But, the law has failed to recognise this.

There is currently no legal requirement for an apology to be offered to victims of abuse. The significance of an apology is, at present, overshadowed by an unfounded fear that it will be seen as an admission of guilt, that the individuals making the apology may incriminate themselves and this will lead to litigation.

But this is baseless. The Compensation Act 2006 states explicitly that an apology on its own will not amount to “an admission of negligence or breach of statutory duty”. So why don’t more defendants apologise in the knowledge they can fall back on the Act? Ironically, it is in response to being antagonised by a lack of recognition that most victims resort to litigation.

Time after time, we are also told that those who were in charge when the abuse occurred are no longer around and so the institution concerned has nothing to apologise for. This is irrelevant; a certain level of responsibility will always lie with the most senior representative of the offending institution, irrespective of whether he or she is personally implicated in what happened – as their role requires them to acknowledge the wrongs of the institution’s predecessors.

Without any legal footing, whether an apology is given rests very much on the “goodwill” of the wrongdoer and if a request for an apology is denied, there is not much the victim can do to overcome this refusal. This can exacerbate victims’ feelings of powerlessness, which reminds them of their experiences and emotions during the period of abuse itself.

Every victim of abuse deserves an apology. And this is why the law must change.

Bolt Burdon Kemp’s “Apologise Now” campaign is seeking to do just that.

We are not looking to tear up the existing framework and create a new legal remedy, because an apology is already available to victims of defamation and discrimination – the law clearly recognises the importance of an apology in some cases to restore the damage to the victims’ reputation and the hurt caused to their dignity. Why then should this right be denied to victims of abuse?

Help us change the law, by tweeting @BoltBurdonKemp #ApologiseNow

Zahra Awaiz-Bilal is an associate solicitor with Bolt Burdon Kemp in London, specialising in compensation claims for survivors of abuse

Follow Zahra Awaiz-Bilal on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ZAwaizBilal

Apologise Now [2] 

WE UNDERSTAND

that for most of our clients, a claim for childhood abuse is more than just a claim for compensation. It is about seeking closure, through recognition and acknowledgement of the wrong done.

WE KNOW

that our clients are driven more by the need to heal than by financial recompense because they will often have experienced a violation of their dignity and betrayal of trust, which leads to complex emotional and psychological injuries.

WE ALL RECOGNISE

the value of an apology; there is a general societal expectation that the wrongdoer should, at the very least, apologise to those who are harmed by his actions and a failure to apologise in those circumstances is objectively insulting.

WE BELIEVE

that victims of child abuse deserve an apology for the heinous crimes committed against them because an apology is a moral act which demonstrates respect for the victims.

WE DEPLORE

the fact that there is currently no legal requirement for a defendant to offer an apology in abuse claims. Whether an apology is given rests very much on the “goodwill” of the defendant and if a request for an apology is denied, there is not much we can do to overcome that refusal.

WE SUBMIT

that an apology is an integral part of abuse claims because of the invaluable role it can play in the healing process, by addressing the very personal nature of the harm suffered by the victims and affirming that they did not do anything wrong.

Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. These links are generally UK based.

  • The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.
  • National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups.
  • Other useful sites are One in Four [C]
  • and Havoca [D].
  • Useful post on Triggers [E]  from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.
  • Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.
  • Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma  [J]
  • Survivors UK for victims and survivors of male rape or the sexual abuse of men [K]
  • Voicing CSA group [L] helps arrange survivors meetings in your area
  • A Prescription for me blog Various emotional support links [M]
  • ShatterBoys -“Male Survivors Of Childhood Sexual Abuse Inspiring change, Through Shared Experience Whilst Building Connections…Together We Can Heal” [N]

Links

[1] 2016 Nov 7 Huffington Post Zahra Awaiz-Bilal Every Victim Of Abuse Deserves An Apology http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/zahra-awaizbilal/abuse-victim-apology-law_b_12746494.html?

[2] Bolton Burden Kemp webpage Apologise Now http://www.boltburdonkemp.co.uk/child-abuse/apologise-now/

[3] Bolt Burdon Kemp – Apologise for Abuse https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xb0cfgz1Ng

[A] Sanctuary for the Abused http://abusesanctuary.blogspot.co.uk/2006/07/for-survivors-coping-with-triggers-if.html

Advertisements

About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free...
This entry was posted in Child Abuse, Child sexual abuse, Court, Justice System, Other bloggers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Every Victim Of Abuse Deserves An Apology by Zahra Awaiz-Bilal

  1. Pingback: Every Victim Of Abuse Deserves An Apology by Zahra Awaiz-Bilal — cathy fox blog | circusbuoy

  2. l8in says:

    Reblogged this on L8in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s