Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Fringe of Darkness

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  • Kyle MacDonald,

    No, I understand she presents the timeline in such a fashion as to minimise her involvement.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 82 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    Look!

    A genuine fan!

    Membership of the club based on what?

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Oh. Yes. Good point.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 581 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Francis, in reply to linger,

    There are different standards of evidence for determining
    “do we have enough evidence of abuse that this child needs protection?” and
    “do we have enough evidence to conclude this person is guilty of abuse?”
    It’s a distinction that FGS deliberately blurs – which may give her “credibility” among (accused) offenders, but definitely not with victims

    I'm not sure that's a fair characterisation of FSG's position. As an expert defence witness, she would certainly be involved with cases where there might be insufficient evidence of abuse. I'm not sure she would be involved with possible abuse cases where children need protecting.

    Wairarapa • Since Apr 2012 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    A 2009 story notes the result of thwarted police inquiries for a decade.

    The police interviews, while failing to secure any arrests or close the commune, drove the abuse underground.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19699 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    All hail the good ship google, and all who sail in her.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    though Dr Google is my favourite member of the family for entertainment.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19699 posts Report Reply

  • lynne walker,

    This is all so tough to read.especially as the one who reads like an apologist for some of what happened. There is so much evidence about effects on children of sexual abuse and so obvious of the power imbalance between the adults and children I am really struggling to see how anyone can defend it. Guess it's time to stop reading now

    Auckland • Since Jan 2011 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Yeah, can I ask people to not directly quote material here that might be distressing for some of our community? Especially if you can link to it. I'm not quite sure of the relevance of bringing some of it to this discussion: if you can google it, it's a matter of public record.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    At least this discussion of FGS' stance - apparently she's NZ's own MZB, but with professional clout - has helped put paid to the "fact" that all women are intrinsically more protective.

    Perhaps there are fewer female perpetrators of child sexual abuse, but CP demonstrates there still are some, and plenty more who are enablers. We all know of women who are utterly in thrall to their appalling partners (it's not gender-exclusive, of course), and they can engage in aiding, minimising, normalizing, participating in and covering up vile acts.

    Regarding publication of the work itself, while I heartily dislike "misery porn", I think a thorough and journalistic look at the circumstances that led to this abuse taking place, how it was perpetrated, and dealt with, including the voices of victims and perpetrators, would be a useful thing.

    Focussing on the main perpetrator's "origin story" would be looking from the wrong POV, on this occasion. Most of the victims are still alive, for one, and deserve to be heard, if they wish to speak.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Sorry. Edited now to isolate the relevant sentence for our denialist.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19699 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to TracyMac,

    We all know of women who are utterly in thrall to their appalling partners (it’s not gender-exclusive, of course), and they can engage in aiding, minimising, normalizing, participating in and covering up vile acts.

    I'm a bit uneasy with this notion of "utterly in thrall"? I interpret that as you think the reason some mothers expose their children to these dangers (which is a different thing to being/becoming an enabler, but part of a continuum), has all/most to do with their own needs/desires for intimacy in a relationship? That of course is the type of conclusion one could come to when just reading the court reporting on these crimes and asking ' where was the mother in all of this'? But I wonder whether it is that black and white. I guess I believe that the in-built/natural nurturing and protectiveness qualities of the female of our species exists in every woman/mother - and that that quality it is interrupted/undermined (one could use many terms here) for many, many different reasons that we just do not have a good grasp on presently. It is an area where I think far more research is needed.

    Given there are so many cases where a mother is not the abuser but who is physically present in her child/children's life at the time that trauma/harm occurs, I do think we need to understand far better the reasons why these mothers failed to recognise/act/etc. to protect their child/children. We can then give all young adults and new parents the best and most appropriate knowledge and strategies with the aim of far better prevention of child abuse going forward.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to TracyMac,

    Focussing on the main perpetrator’s “origin story” would be looking from the wrong POV, on this occasion.

    And tbh, some of the interviews Bert barely comes up, and when he does, he's tangential. I guess, I just don't find him very interesting. But all the people around him, the bystanders, the enablers... Like Louise said when she got the letter, "What about the other 140 people? Where were they?"

    And how many of the people who weren't Bert would ever have done the things they did if they hadn't been in an environment where that behaviour wasn't just normalised, but actively encouraged? That's why the whole concept of Evil fails me. I've listened to hours of John Potter talking, and believe me the impression I got of him was not favourable, but... he was Bert's son. He grew up surrounded by this stuff. What chance did he ever have of a normal life?

    That's not to excuse the things in any way. It's an attempt to understand how it happens, what role group dynamics play.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to TracyMac,

    Most of the victims are still alive, for one, and deserve to be heard, if they wish to speak.

    I don’t disagree that those wanting to be heard should give voice their sorrows, hurts, anguish, anger, trauma etc.if they feel that might assist their own healing. I think there are many venues to do this already – I think somewhere above in this thread that Rosemary linked to one such blog site where other vicitms of child sexual abuse have told their story.

    The question for me is in the form of telling Centrepoint’s full story for general media consumption and attempting as a journalist to bring a balanced perspective to what was essentially one preditor’s vehicle for practise. The opening line of the article is a case in point:

    As a reporter, I wanted to explore how a utopian dream could turn into a collective nightmare and normal people end up as convicted paedophiles.

    Really? Does the reporter fully believe that Bert Potter wasn’t a paedophile when setting up the commune and that others eventually convicted weren’t always paedophiles but rather were “normal” people? What evidence was gathered to come to this conclusion?

    So, “the story” to me starts out on a false premise – or at least one which is unproven (and to me, objectionable). But, that is journalism – it isn’t academic study – so no criticism intended, it is just what it is.

    The problem I have with this journalistic approach – as emerged in this thread – is that side of the story that was/might have been seen to be ‘beneficial’ for some (positive references to wanting to know more about a sexual technique commonly used in the community, for example). I imagine any number of individuals who were illegally sexualised by this organisation who are still alive today feel, not only un-traumatised, but more sexually fulfilled in later life as a result. Some of them might even have grown into paedophiles as well, with urges/tendencies that they either look to fulfill or attempt to repress.

    I just don’t think those traumatised need to hear these “positive” stories (and the outside opinions of those of us reading this public account). And in fact I imagine hearing them may only worsens the struggle for some. They might ask, why was I affected differently – there must be something wrong with me.

    But by all means victims who want to should be able to tell their story – as per the Massey study – for the purposes of social learning (as opposed to wider media/public consumption). Hence, the emphasis I spoke of with respect to the involvement of clinicians and academics/criminologists if such an account is to be comprehensively told. I’m not saying the author/journalist should abandon the project, rather that the evidence gained through interviews should be used for a re-framed project/study – a collaboration with specialists/professionals in the field of child sexual abuse.

    As for the perpetrators and enablers telling their side of “the story”? To my mind, their only platform should be the courts. Many convicted could likely be tried on new charges, and why not.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I guess, I just don’t find him very interesting.

    Well herein lie a problem. "Interesting" - think what you mean by that.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    I guess I believe that the in-built/natural nurturing and protectiveness qualities of the female of our species exists in every woman/mother

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/73314271/Teacher-accused-of-sex-with-schoolboy-found-guilty

    I appreciate that you and others have the best intentions Katharine, but incessant genderising leaves me feeling unwell. I understand that not everyone has yet adopted a world view that includes other genders. I've felt on the outer over a number of conversations, just sitting, afraid to contribute, waiting for someone to represent a view I identify with as the thread meanders down the well-hewn generic male vs female dichotomy track and is then closed.

    A couple of opinions, void of evidence; with regard to sex crimes, I feel the continued genderisation of society may be an exacerbating factor, genderisation is arguably the foundation upon which MRA etc are founded.

    In my opinion, it is women and mothers who are ultimately responsible for saving children from this fate

    It is ultimately only the children themselves who can save themselves from this fate, and that requires more honest education and more profound empowerment. I enjoyed that Elizabeth Warren lecture you posted the other day, but she does go to lengths to stress that this is the age of the two income household and an age in which children are being institutionalised much younger, so it's more difficult for anyone to keep tabs. Which is not to say that I don't think we need to better understand the reasons why these mothers failed to recognise/act/etc. to protect their child/children, It's that I think we need to understand the reasons why people failed to recognise/act/etc. to protect child/children.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Well herein lie a problem. “Interesting” – think what you mean by that.

    Katharine, I've listened to first-hand accounts by the victims. I'm tired of people insinuating that I'm siding with their abusers. If you want to accuse me of something, please come right out and do so.

    I grew up in an abusive household, as most people here know. When you make these airy statements about mothers, that's MY MOTHER you're talking about. And I've sat at my desk weeping in impotent despair at these stories. My "interest" in causes is an "interest" in how we can stop these things happening again, how we stop being a society that allows them to happen.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    I imagine any number of individuals who were illegally sexualised by this organisation who are still alive today feel, not only un-traumatised, but more sexually fulfilled in later life as a result.

    I'm sorry, but what the fuck? You think people get good sex techniques from being sexually abused? What?

    I don’t disagree that those wanting to be heard should give voice their sorrows, hurts, anguish, anger, trauma etc.if they feel that might assist their own healing. I think there are many venues to do this already

    Public Address has been a safe place, at least at times, for survivors to share their stories, for people with professional or personal experience to share their insights, and for the rest of us to listen respectfully.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3890 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to chris,

    I agree with everything you've said. I don't mean to imply all (or even most) of the responsibility for raising, nurturing and/or protection of children lies with females. I was raised by a female solo parent and when my children were 2 and less than 1 year respectively, I went back to work and their Dad 'raised' them for all intents and purposes. Sure I was around sometimes, but certainly not more than not. Who they are is largely a reflection of the habits and like and dislikes and values he gave them. And I will never begin to be able to thank him enough for that. His work was far harder than mine in respect of the family.

    So yes, everyone in society - all people - have to play their part in the protection of children - and this is why I (kind of) qualified that statement above by saying "ultimately" - and that reflects my own anecdotal experiences, by no means a quantitative (or even qualitative) premise. Just, as I said, an opinion.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Lilith __,

    I’m sorry, but what the fuck? You think people get good sex techniques from being sexually abused?

    This is what someone above (I think Emma) might have thought of John Potter. He quite likely was exposed to illegal sexual contact (that is sexual contact as a minor with adults) that he thinks benefited him sexually. Technically (in terms of the law) he was abused, but he may not think so.

    What I'm saying is his point of view (his perspective on "the story") to those who feel/felt traumatised by similar contact aren't likely to find solace/healng in his perspective.

    Hope that clarifies - as I in no way want to say things that upset. I am in every sense of the word horrified and outraged by the proliferation of child abuse (both sexual and physical) in our society.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to chris,

    Attachment

    I understand that not everyone has yet adopted a world view that includes other genders. I’ve felt on the outer over a number of conversations, just sitting, afraid to contribute, waiting for someone to represent a view I identify with as the thread meanders down the well-hewn generic male vs female dichotomy track and is then closed.

    I’m trying to respond to this, but all I can manage is an illustration of the sort of frustration I have some times fealt.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Emma Hart,

    We share the same interest - to stop this shit happening.

    But no, I'm not talking about your mother - and that's part of my point - an overview, a book about Centrepoint for wider media consumption has the potential (in my opinion) to perhaps do more harm than good for many individuals affected by it. If it was written, I might read it for "interest" too - but I'd rather I (and a wider audience) read the Massey-type of study - as we might learn something far more valuable, as opposed to fulfill an "interest", or satisfy a curiosity. And even if I'm wrong, why would we want to do any more harm to anyone negatively affected anyway for the sake of the public interest?

    Yes, we (society) need to understand far more about this wider problem. I just think our knowledge needs to be framed for the purposes of understanding, as opposed to interest. As I said earlier, we needed to listen to that guy who said,

    “In the end,” he says, gripping his coffee mug hard, “guys will just be wanking over your stories.”

    And ensure that we frame things and choose a venue for understanding such that it has no value in that regard.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    If I may quote Emma's original post:

    I was transcribing hours of interviews with people from Centrepoint: victims, abusers, people who’d been deeply scarred, people who’d been to prison, people who were just around. Anke was trying to get a broader picture of what had happened, a more nuanced one;

    The next day, about half an hour of interview later, I was sitting at my keyboard with tears running down my face listening to the same woman cry as she talked about some of the other victims, as she expressed genuine remorse, as she said, I had no right to do that. As she talked about wanting to see those girls again, to apologise. The woman I had hated the day before was breaking my heart. She cried again, talking about her parents visiting her in prison.

    What I went through was simply brushing up against the edges of what Anke was living for years. She has shown extraordinary courage in writing not just about what she learned, but about the profound effect it had on her as a human being who was also a journalist. We send writers and journalists into these fraught situations, to come out with the story, and expect them to be unscathed. To bear witness, and be unaffected, neutral observers.

    It is abundantly clear that what Anke was doing, examining the wider picture through face-to-face interviews with a wide variety of people directly involved, is tremendously valuable. Without interviews like this we can't possibly understand what went on at Centrepoint. It's a loss for all of us that her work has been halted.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3890 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Lilith __,

    for people with professional or personal experience to share their insights, and for the rest of us to listen respectfully.

    What makes you think I have no professional or personal experience?

    For avoidance of doubt, I do, and its personal, not professional experience. Look back to the book I linked to earlier - one of those case studies is part of my extended families' history.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Yes, we (society) need to understand far more about this wider problem. I just think our knowledge needs to be framed for the purposes of understanding, as opposed to interest.

    This is what Anke and Emma have been doing. In the face of a mass of difficulties, including people bizarrely attacking them as if they were exploiters, or had no empathy or understanding.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3890 posts Report Reply

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