Thursday, 23 April 2015

Shame by Phil Thomas - The story of justice continues for Medomsley abuse victims #RPBP exclusive interview!

Hello and welcome to a slightly different author interview. 
Regular followers of my blog will know that I interviewed Phil Thomas in May 2014 about the release of his debut book Shame which is a true account of his life and the impact both physical and psychologically of his abuse at the hands of a prison officer and church minister Neville Husband. If you would like to read that post for background before reading this interview which deals exclusively with what happened next then click here.

Welcome Phil, it's really great to chat with you again.

Since you were last featured on Sarah Jane’s blog there has been increased media coverage of the stories of abuse and the justice system's handling of the cases at Medomsley.
The BBC reported that:
“Up to 500 people could have been abused there in the 1970s and 80s, say police.”
Do you think that's an accurate figure from the contact you have now with other victims?

There are 500 victims from Medomsley that have come forward 300 of which were sexual abuse in the kitchens and over 200 are in counselling. The turnover of boys in the kitchen was 12 boys every two months I believe that every boy that worked in the kitchens were sexually abused so that would mean over 1000 victims of sexual abuse over 'Husbands' 16 year tenure.

Do you think your reader audience for Shame has changed in light of the increased information available to the public, by that I mean do you think people have become more inquisitive?
There has been a lot more interest from the media especially since the inside out documentary.
I have also had a lot of victims contact me through various social media sites who don’t trust the police. Some that just want to talk to someone that went through the same ordeal as them and some that are too ashamed to relate what Husband did to them and what he made them do to him.
I think that people who have read Shame find it hard to accept that what went on Medomsley was allowed to go on for so long.

What do you think could have been done differently to support the victims of Neville Husband?

After the first trial of Husband the police told us that the only recourse we had was to sue the Home Office. But then they put every obstacle in our way. They took us through every court in the land all the way to the House of Lords. I came forward in 1996 to get help with what was going on in my head and not once was I or any other victim offered counselling or any other help until 2009. But things have changed since then, all victims are offered some form of help as soon as they come forward.  

The fact that he was a prison officer was bad enough, do you think that as he was also a church minister, that the church did enough to support the victims when the abusive assaults were exposed?

After leaving the prison service Husband went on to be ordained in the united reformed church were he continued to abuse children. The church would not condemn him or comment on anything he did.

Do you think in light of the publicity and your work supporting the victims, there is a reduced risk of something like this happening again and going unpunished for so long?
I think we live in a different world now and there are a lot more safe guards in place to protect children at risk. The more abusers that are brought to justice regardless of how long ago it was the better because they will see it doesn’t matter how many years go by they will still be prosecuted.

How do you feel about moving on with your life now?
It's hard to say really as I am still waiting for justice, but I am a stronger person even though I have my bad days they are nothing like as bad as when I decided to try to take my own life. Perhaps when Operation Seabrook has concluded and all those that helped and enabled Husband and failed to protect us, even though they had chance after chance, are brought to justice then I can put it away to some degree.
Let's talk about Shame. How long did it take you to write Shame and do you have a sequel planned to follow the events that followed?

Shame took me almost three years to write I had to keep leaving it and get myself into the right frame of mind to come back to it again. Writing Shame was like reliving everything over and over again. I do have a follow-up to Shame in the pipeline which tells the story of how we got justice and how many friends who were abused by Husband and who I think of as brothers, are doing today.
What are your favourite parts from your book?

My favourite parts of my book are all the shenanigans I got up to when I was a child before Medomsley even though growing up was hard I had some great fun with my friends. 

What are you currently reading and why did you choose it?

At the moment I am reading and reviewing a lot of non-fiction books on authonomy.
If you could share one thing about yourself that you would like readers to know what would it be?
Because of what happened to me at Medomsley I am more empathetic to people and aware of the dangers that children from broken homes face in the care system.
Thanks Phil.

I have read Shame twice now, in addition to reading the first draft on authonomy in 2013. I am in awe of the strength and courage it took, and still takes, to deal with the aftermath of abuse. I hope that your search for closure with the Operation Seabrook investigation helps to bring some inner peace for you and the other victims. 
Thank you so much for sharing more details of a very personal traumatic experience with us.

Sarah Jane

If you would like to read Shame it is available on Amazon UK priced at just £1.19.

Rukia Publishing author Phil Thomas is an advocate of indie authors and we are proud to work alongside him.