I wrote some time ago about the theft of my first kiss.
An unwanted kiss from middle-aged ‘uncle’ in his 40s or thereabouts.
It’s not something I’ve dwelled on over the years, until more recently. Partly triggered by the jokey banter I referred to in my previous article, but mainly due to the monumental revelations that keep hitting the headlines in the media.
Part of me wanted to leave the experience in its box with the lid firmly closed. I’ve dealt with it in my mind, and it doesn’t affect my day-to-day life.
I was (relatively) lucky. After all, there are so many others whose experiences were much more severe than mine. Besides, what was there to gain in taking the lid off the box and examining its contents?
And that’s the way it’s been for decades. But something changed the day the Jimmy Savile revelations hit the news.
For me, each mention of the latest high-profile case brought the experience back to the forefront of my mind. And with each news bulletin the impact was stronger than I could expect.
Should I say something? Is it worth bothering? What would be the point? I would imagine anyone who has had any similar experience is affected in a similar way.
Then I did it.
One afternoon, as usual I was listening to the radio in a distracted way while working. The latest bulletin told how some celebrity had just been sentenced to 25 years for child abuse offences. I can’t even remember who it was.
Without dwelling on it, I went online to get the appropriate number and dialled 101. I wasn’t even sure if they’d be interested in what I had to say. After all, it was over 35 years ago.
Who knows whether the person concerned was still alive? It was only a kiss after all. I couldn’t even remember the guy’s surname.
Telling my story at last
The lady I spoke to was superb. She listened to the whole story. Not once did she ask for any personal information, not even my name. When I finished, she asked whether I would like to have it formally recorded, or whether I’d like to think it over first.
Having taken the step of picking up the phone and sharing the story, I knew I needed to just do it. So the ‘complaint’ was recorded, and I gave them the details I had.
The police were brilliant and followed up very quickly.
A few days later a police officer was in my kitchen taking a full statement. That was the most difficult part. He asked a lot of detailed questions which meant replaying the event in my mind like a video recording.
Surprisingly, it made me feel quite nauseous, despite the passage of time.
Fortunately, conversations with Mum and my brother led to remembering his surname and his old address in Manchester. I hadn’t had any contact with him since 1990.
It turned out he was still alive, and still living at the same address. The officer went to see him to request he appear at the police station. He went, with a solicitor.
I was told he admitted to knowing me and my family. But denied I had ever stayed at his home without my parents. And of course, denied he had kissed me. No surprises there.
So why did I bother reporting it?
The one thing I have realised over time is that any inappropriate behaviour (however minor) is rarely an isolated incident. The information we have is usually just one tiny piece of a jigsaw. But we may not know that.
There was a possibility that there was a record of someone being brave enough to make a complaint against this man, and my little piece of this jigsaw might just make the difference. If not, there is now a record of the ‘incident’. So if a second person comes along, who knows.
If something happens, I am prepared to back up my story in court if it ever comes to that.
I know it’s unlikely anything will ever come of it. And that’s okay. The man concerned will need to live with the concern that something could happen if he has done something similar.
Most importantly, I have closure.
I hadn’t even realised I needed closure. But there it is. I’ve done what I feel to be right. I no longer churn things over after each news bulletin.
I don’t think many would doubt the tidal wave of change that has come about as a consequence of what has come to light regarding Jimmy Savile and other celebrities.
I firmly believe it’s made us all, as a society, face up to what has been going on for ever. And instead of ignoring or hiding it, we are tackling it head on. That’s got to be a good thing.
I can’t praise the police officers involved enough. They were quick, considerate, and did as much as could be expected to in this situation. I was treated with a lot of respect and care.
I hope others will be encouraged to do report their experiences. But I know how difficult it can be.
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