What with all the crazy election brouhaha going on in the United States this week, I would not be surprised if few Americans are aware of the ruckus going on here in England about a guy called Jimmy Savile. He was an iconic celebrity who, for more than forty years, hosted many highly popular radio and TV shows for the BBC and was considered to be a rock star in his own right. He died last year but it has just come out that he was a rabid pedophile and used his position as a young person’s show host and charity fund raiser to sexually abuse over 200 under-age girls, many of whom were troubled teenagers in the very homes he was raising money for. That is not unusual in itself since such things do go on, but what seems to be so amazing is that, even though he was relatively brazen about it, and rumors abounded throughout the BBC and even in the press for years, no one ever dared to challenge him about it. For four decades or more, Savile hid his pedophilia in plain sight and totally got away with it.
Even though this has become a national scandal, the pattern is all too familiar. All pedophiles operate through the exercise of power, fear and guilt. They always threaten their victims never to tell anyone and most victims know that even if they do tell, no one will believe them and they will be punished for speaking out. We get a lot of sexually abused people in our workshops, and most of them find it far more difficult to forgive their mothers for not believing them–or for not protecting them if they knew, which is often the case–than their actual abusers.
In the Savile case, few of the girls had mothers to complain to, but they knew better than to say anything against him to anyone, let alone the police who seldom take such complaints seriously. Many of the people around Savile were aware of what was going on, yet for decades pretended not to know. Someone with a job to protect would have needed great courage to challenge such an iconic figure as Jimmy Savile. He would have destroyed any such challengers.
Our own discomfort with the idea that fathers might force themselves on their own children–not to mention step-fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, friends and even priests–makes us loathe to believe the children, so we turn our heads away. That further compounds the victimization for the child, who may never recover from either the abuse itself or the betrayal by those who failed to provide protection.
So, thank you Jimmy Savile for providing us with this mirror. Maybe we have been too willing to look the other way and pretend it could never happen in our own families. Perhaps we have ignored the signs or chosen to look the other way when it was obvious that something was not right. Perhaps we were not open to hear a child’s attempt to let us know that she or he was being used and abused, because we didn’t want to know.
The good thing about this having become such a big national scandal and involving such a revered national icon is that the subject of sexual abuse of children now has everyone’s attention. It has brought this shadow material to the surface for everyone to face in themselves so we can heal it. Since the English public knows him so well and feels the pain of what has happened so strongly, I would suggest to those in the UK who are reading this and understand how the power of Radical Forgiveness might contribute to the healing of that shadow material, that you do a Radical Forgiveness worksheet on Jimmy Savile plus one on the BBC. If you don’t already have the worksheet, might I suggest you go to Radical-Living.com and do the free course there that gives you the worksheet and instructions in how to use it.
I will do one myself and post it next week.
PS. I’ll soon be returning stateside, and one of my earliest opportunities to connect with my American friends will be at “The Magic of Radical Forgiveness” workshop in upstate New York. I especially enjoy this workshop because it is purely experiential and typically results in profound shifts for most if not all the participants.
Here are the details:
The Magic of Radical Forgiveness
Friday and Saturday
November 30 to December 2, 2012
The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health
For more information and to register, click here:
You’ll know if this workshop is right for you. If so, I look forward to seeing you there.