Breaking Glass

Survivors and Liars

Lauren Stratford might be called the woman who never was, or rather the woman whose existence we dare not admit.  Even the soberest retelling of her fantastic story makes nonsense of so many contemporary assumptions and pieties.

Over the last generation, ideas about child abuse have grown to the status of social orthodoxy in the United States and across most of the West.  Among the unchallengeable dogmas of this faith are the belief that children never lie about abuse they have suffered—although an unassailable body of evidence now shows how skillful questioning can draw forth virtually any statements from them, however fantastic.  And then there are the adult “survivors” of abuse, those women and men who surface to report horrendous evils allegedly suffered many decades ago.

England, currently, is riven by charges about alleged sexual misdeeds by conservative politicians who supposedly constituted a homicidal “pedophile ring” in the 1970’s and 80’s.  Police have stated firmly that they now work from the assumption that adult “survivors” are telling the truth, no matter how bizarre or even ludicrous their claims may sound.  To assert otherwise is to become an accomplice to child abuse, to commit the sin of failing to “believe the children.”  Hence the investigations that have dragged on for years and ruined reputations, all without...

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