Abuse victim’s death was entirely avoidable

on Feb 11, 13 • in News

PRESS RELEASE – Exclusive to Liverpool Echo. 10 February 2013

‘Abuse victim’s death was entirely avoidable,’ says child abuse victim specialist

Graham Wilmer, founder of Child Abuse Victims’ support service, The Lantern Project, says the tragic death of Frances Andrade, the key prosecution witness in the trial, last week, of choirmaster, Michael Brewer, was entirely avoidable.

“There is a great deal of confusion among the legal profession when prosecuting child abuse cases,” Said Wilmer, a survivor of child abuse himself, who has written a number of self-help books for victims of childhood sexual abuse, and who set up the Lantern Project 13 years ago in Wallasey, specifically to help victims deal with the enormous difficulties of seeking the psychological, and legal help they need to help them recover from their trauma.

“The advice often given to vulnerable victims by prosecutors, not to seek counselling before a trial, as in Frances Andrade’s case, is wrong, and is based on a lack of understanding of the balance between the needs of victims of psychosexual trauma, and the needs of prosecutors to demonstrate best evidence practice.

“We have developed a comprehensive, holistic support service, which we have used to help hundreds of victims of childhood sexual abuse, long before they get anywhere near a court room, and then during any subsequent trial, and for many months afterwards, until they have reached what we call a ‘sustainable recovery.’

“The recovery model we have developed is in line with the criteria set down by the government for ISVAs (Independent Sexual Violence Advisors), which meets the requirements of Best Evidence Practice, and enables the victims to withstand the rigours of being a prosecution witness in, what is a brutalising legal process, which is totally unfit for dealing with this unique group of witnesses, nearly all of who will be suffering from Psychosexual Trauma Disorder, and all of who will be vulnerable to secondary wounding, as a result of the prosecutors lack of understanding of how to deal with sexual abuse victims in the court setting.”

The Lantern Project has just published a new book to help lawyers, doctors and other professionals, who work with victims of sexual abuse, have a better understanding of the subject. The book, entitled ‘Understanding and Treating the Life-Long Consequences of Childhood Sexual Abuse,’ and written by Graham Wilmer, David Williams, Jill Joynson and Amanda Tietavainen, provides a new approach to help victims of childhood sexual abuse recover from the impact of the abuse they suffered and repair the damage it caused. The book looks in detail at how the many complex psychological issues that develop over time can be resolved. This is a unique piece of work and is based on a wide range of interviews and therapeutic work with more than 1000 victims, carried out by The Lantern Project since its foundation in 2000.

“The purpose of this book,” explained Wilmer, “is to contribute to a better understanding of the long-term impact of childhood sexual abuse, and to introduce more effective ways to help survivors recover from the damage they have inherited. The book is a combination of our own experiences, and knowledge we have gained through our work with hundreds of other survivors, male and female and of all ages, over the past 13 years, together with contributions from recognised experts and specialists in the UK, the USA, Canada and Australia, who work in the field of child protection and victim support.

“The book introduces a theory of Psychosexual Trauma Disorder, which we have concluded, from the evidence we have gathered, is a comorbid disorder, which all survivors of childhood sexual abuse seem to develop over time, regardless of the type and nature of the sexual abuse they have experienced.”

Having recognised that there is an identifiable, comorbid psychological disorder that develops in survivors of sexual abuse, Wilmer and his colleagues at the Lantern Project, set about developing a holistic recovery framework that could be offered to survivors of all ages, which would help them reach a point that they call a sustainable recovery; a point from which they would not regress.

“We call this recovery framework Unstructured Therapeutic Disclosure (UTD), which we have been using since 2009, with encouraging results, and we are confident that UTD can be seen as an effective therapy for treating survivors of psychosexual trauma, and in particular adult survivors.

“We are not suggesting that it is the only therapy that can be successful, and we recognise that the model we have developed will always benefit from continuous development and improvement, over time. Consequently, this book should be seen as a ‘work-in-progress’, and we welcome any feedback from professionals and survivors alike,” said Wilmer.

Issued by The Lantern Project. lanterproject@yahoo.co.uk

Contact: Graham Wilmer – 0151 630 6956 – Mobile: 07866 508094 – 10th February 2013.

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