It is heartening to see professional football players find the bravery to talk about the sexual abuse they experienced decades earlier.
Overcoming feelings of shame and fear to dredge up painful memories requires huge courage and grit. But it also requires support. And I suspect this support isn’t there for many others who are reading the news reports while trying not to relive years spent in fear of dubious coaches.
Two to three decades ago we didn’t have the same checks and safeguarding processes in place to protect children and young people in the sport of football. Therefore, we must offer help and support to all of the men who have lived through this terrible abuse. A lot of these men won’t and don’t have the finances to pay for therapy or the courage to admit what happened to them. We need to offer them protection from being judged or ostracised or feeling publically shamed. They need support for the symptoms so often suffered: broken relationships, financial problems, self-esteem, depression and a host of other damaging behaviours.
This is where digital counselling comes into its own. The freedom of anonymity can provide release. It can help prompt necessary disinhibition. A safe place to go to share your feelings, but not your name is unbelievably powerful. I hope this is where the hidden victims go. If the Government was able to ring fence funds to deal specifically with this issue, digital therapy could provide the safe haven so desperately needed.
Jean Lancashire, Clinical Director, XenZone