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From Theresa May

I am a survivor of mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse within the home, and sexual abuse by a third party outside of the home. While writing a book in which I share my story, I came across the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac). Through meeting and working with Napac I now know that most abuse occurs within the home, and I wanted to try to raise awareness of this, and show how devastating abuse is to victims and survivors – often for the rest of their lives.
I became involved with the government’s child sex abuse inquiry when Theresa May requested to meet survivors. I, like many others, could not believe the shambles we saw with the appointment of the first two chairs. I am not a political person, but I felt that as a survivor and campaigner my input could be of value. It was important to step forward so that my voice, alongside many others, could help shape an inquiry that would be fit for purpose.
After meeting with May again this week, I truly believe she wants to get to the truth and gain justice for victims and survivors of institutional and organised abuse. She was the first person to acknowledge that the inquiry started off on the wrong foot, perhaps because she didn’t fully understand what she was dealing with, or know how to deal with it in the right way.
At the very first meeting, all the individuals in the room introduced themselves by name, stated what had happened to them and explained how they had suffered as a result of abuse. I truly felt that this was the first time May had realised how devastating abuse can be on the individual, and how important it was to get the inquiry right. I think she heard from enough of us to work out that she needed to listen to victims and survivors if the inquiry is to be successful.
The consensus of opinion was that we needed: an independent statutory inquiry; a chair and panel that had the skills, knowledge and expertise to deliver a successful inquiry; amended terms of reference that would go back to 1945, and cover an extended geographical location; and a support fund to safeguard those giving evidence and for organisations that support adult survivors of abuse in need of help.
When you are abused you are stripped of any power and control, and you find it hard to trust others. There are too many abusers out there, especially people in positions of power who feel they are above the law and can do what they want. When I was researching institutional and organised abuse I was horrified by what I found. I learned of vulnerable kids who have been befriended by perpetrators and forced to become rent boys and prostitutes. Of children being taken into care because of abuse in the family home, and are then abused all over again in the care system. Of children being abused in boarding schools, and by people in the church.
Abuse is everywhere. It is the cancer in society that no one wants to acknowledge or talk about – and therein lies the problem. By talking about it we take away the power and control from the perpetrators, and give it back to the survivors. They will find a voice, break the silence and secrecy that surrounds the abuse they have suffered, and get justice for what happened to them.
This inquiry is a massive opportunity to uncover where and how children have been catastrophically let down. We have the opportunity to reveal the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice. This is a historical moment in itself and a time for everyone to come together and say no to abuse of children. The perpetrators of abuse must realise that child victims grow up to be adults, and once we regain control of our lives we will speak out, and they will be punished. The tide is turning and we are saying: no more, what you did was wrong – you are no longer getting away with it.
The importance of transparency around the inquiry and those involved in it is paramount in order that survivors can have trust in the process and its outcome. While I do believe there has been a cover-up of institutional abuse, and I do believe that the perpetrators want to protect themselves at all costs, I also believe that the lid is off and we are never going to put it back on again. With the announcement of the new chair of the inquiry – Justice Lowell Goddard – I believe the truth will prevail in the end.

Help Us End The School Of The Americas

The resent focus on child refugees in the U.S. borders have alarmed many people who are pro immigrants as well as anti-immigration. We believe that it is critical to look as to why they are coming and how U.S. foreign policies have a great deal of blame. Violence in Central America has been influence by the horrors of war during the 12 year civil war in El Salvador and wars in Guatemala, Nicaragua as well as U.S. interventions in Honduras and other parts of Latin America. We believe that the violence in Central America that is causing youth to flee today was influence by individuals that were trained in the School of The Americas in Columbus, GA. in Fort Benning.


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In June this year, Colonel Byron Lima Estrada, once a student at the school, was convicted in Guatemala City of murdering Bishop Juan Gerardi in 1998. Gerardi was killed because he had helped to write a report on the atrocities committed by Guatemala’s D-2, the military intelligence agency run by Lima Estrada with the help of two other SOA graduates. D-2 coordinated the “anti-insurgency” campaign which obliterated 448 Mayan Indian villages, and murdered tens of thousands of their people. Forty per cent of the cabinet ministers who served the genocidal regimes of Lucas Garcia, Rios Montt and Mejia Victores studied at the School of the Americas.

In 1993, the United Nations truth commission on El Salvador named the army officers who had committed the worst atrocities of the civil war. Two-thirds of them had been trained at the School of the Americas. Among them were Roberto D’Aubuisson, the leader of El Salvador’s death squads; the men who killed Archbishop Oscar Romero; and 19 of the 26 soldiers who murdered the Jesuit priests in 1989.

In Chile, the school’s graduates ran both Augusto Pinochet’s secret police and his three principal concentration camps. One of them helped to murder Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit in Washington DC in 1976.

Homies Unidos has advocated for just policies to deal with the issue of violence that plagues not just the streets of Los Angeles but also the streets of Central America. We will be joining School of The Americas Watch in their mission to close down this school who have trained many dictators an assassins throughout Latin America.

As part of Homies Unidos’ Youth Leadership training on civic engagement, we will take five youth who have graduated from our program to Columbus, GA and will be presenting on how violence from the 80's is reverent to today’s violence in Central America, how this violence affects Central America youth and youth in the streets of Los Angeles. We will be screening the Fruits of War documentary and educating people from all parts of the U.S. about the work that Homies Unidos does to reduce violence. We are creating leaders of our youth who at one point where disfranchised and now are developing into advocates for social justice.


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