Protecting children from sexual abuse by family members, so called friends, predators or public figures is what’s Mosac’s all about, reports Jacqui Morley
Victims of sexual abuse never forget it – which is why reporting of “historical” sex crime is so high today.
Ask Sue McGurty, multi-award winning founder of Mosac, Mothers (and Safer Carers) Of Sexually Abused Children, Blackpool Wyre and Fylde.
It was 30 years before Sue could bring herself to speak of years of systematic sexual abuse by a member of her extended family.
Her revelation was prompted by the abuse of one of her daughters – by another member of their extended family.
Sue’s pride in her daughter is evident. “She had the courage to speak out. I didn’t. I didn’t want to upset my mum. I kept quiet, kept it a secret, and wonder to this day whether I could have saved other children -–that’s whether other children were involved – had I spoken out. My daughter said it like it was. I am so proud of her.”
Her child’s suffering also prompted Sue to take a 12 week course, courtesy of the then-NSPCC backed Acorn Centre, to help support and counsel other victims.
Sue lost her inner victim along the way. “You never can forget the fear, or the anger or even the guilt – because so many children somehow blame themselves for what is happening to them. But you stop letting it run your life.”
Sue founded Mosac as a self-help group in 1995 to reach other mothers because there were few facilities for helping them through the trauma of abuse of their children. She did that with the support of another mother she met on the course – Diane.
But it wasn’t easy. When Sue learned her own daughter, vulnerable by dint of learning difficulties, had been abused she went into lockdown rather than denial. “I couldn’t talk to my husband Phil, or anyone. I just went upstairs, to bed and cried for three weeks.”
Then she gathered herself to do battle. “It’s very difficult when you’re dealing with a family member because there is such sensitivity involved. It’s not that it’s easier to deal with a stranger’s abuse but there’s less fall out.”
The family closed ranks behind Sue and court action was taken. Her own oppressor got off more lightly. “I wanted to kill him,” she recalls. “I would cry myself to sleep thinking of ways I could get him out of my life.
“We were related so I loved him but hated what he did to me. He was 13 years older. He stole my childhood.”
Sue only found peace a few years ago when she got a call from her abuser asking for her help. “His wife had died and he was devastated and part of me thought good, now you know what it’s like to cry. But then I thought what my late mum would think if I just abandoned him – she had never known what had taken place, I kept it from her because I didn’t want it to wreck our future together. But she was taken from me at 16 when she died so we never got that chance.
“And I found the strength to say enough was enough to my abuser. I went to a friend’s house and saw what family life was like and realised that it was the sort of life I wanted but didn’t have. I realised that subconsciously I had been protecting my friends by not having them round at my own house.”
Today, 18 years on, it’s a lifetime ago for the mother of five, but the fight goes on to support other mothers, carers and some dads who seek Mosac’s help.
“They call me Mrs Mosac today and I try to give others the sort of help I never got myself,” she adds. Fundraising, as ever, is crucial to keep the charity, which has its office on Topping Street, Blackpool, going.
Fundraiser Kathy Waterland says rent arrears sometimes mount up for six weeks. “We raise what we can but we don’t have a charity shop and count on the generosity of the public to help.”
The centre is named after one such benefactor Shirley Jordan who met Sue just the once, at an awards ceremony, and found her so inspirational she left Mosac £12k in her will.
The new look website (www.mosaclancashire.co.uk) was funded by a £2k grant from Blackpool Council thanks to ward councillors Sarah Riding and Mark Smith.
And on Friday night Revolutions nightspot presents a charity “garden party” theme night for Mosac from 5pm to 8pm. Others fundraisers are planned. Mosac volunteers are among VIP guests at a service in June at Blackburn Cathedral to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.
Mosac already holds the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for voluntary service and is also one of Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden’s “Local Heroes” award winners. Sue runs workshops for Uclan students and gives talks to health professionals and local groups - such as the Mothers Union at St Wilfred’s Church on March 7.
“The biggest obstacle to funding is that sexual abuse of children is ugly and there’s still a stigma attached and people don’t like to acknowledge it happens – for all the endless publicity on the TV,” concludes Sue. “It’s time to speak out in every sense.”
l Mosac helpline: 07928801662, office (01253) 628598, email firstname.lastname@example.org