With the recent flood of sexual assault cases - ageing public figures often dragged out years after the event, and publicly pilloried - I can't help wondering how many of these accusations are true.
Before anyone jumps to the defence of the victims, let me say that I have counselled countless adults still suffereing the effects of childhood abuse. One was so horrific that when I returned home, I wept for her. I am neither heartless nor cynical. But. Could it just be the some people are jumping on a rolling bandwagon? Could this be a dangerous trend? It seems to me that soon, we will be counting the celebrities who haven't abused children or (or adults), rather than those who have. Are all these claims genuine? And how on earth can they be proved, years after the event?
I am not defending the abusers; far from it. And I know that sex abuse has always been more prevalent than most realise (at any one time, my caseload included at least one man or woman who had suffered in this way, and the effects were often devastating). But (back to my original question) what exactly does constitute sexual abuse? I was kissed inappropriately at least twice as a child, and in my teens I spent a terrifying few days staying with family friends, where the wife went away and her notoriously randy husband chased me round the kitchen table trying to fondle me (and no doubt more. I escaped and hitchhiked all the way home in a lorry).
Two questions, then. Firstly, can all these claims really be true (personally, I have no idea). And secondly what is assault? A kiss? A grope? A pat? Or does it have to be more?
Perhaps the answer lies in the effect on the victim, rather than the intent of the perpetrator. What does anyone else think?