At the time of writing, 11 more men have come forward to state that they have been abused within football.
As of this morning, 11 people have come forward to speak to Cheshire Police about abuse within football. More @MailSport soon.
— Mike Keegan (@MikeKeegan_DM) November 23, 2016
My first instinct is that this is the tip of a very big iceberg; a scandal that will reach Savillesque proportions before it’s done. This is, after all, an industry that has allowed men unchecked access to thousands of young boys and we have rarely heard of any problems.
Until one man made the brave choice to speak out.
Andy Woodward’s admission that he had been sexually abused by Barry Bennell prompted others to start coming forward. That’s what happens when abusers are brought out into the light.
The men who are now coming forward are rightly being heralded for their bravery, but I can’t help but notice how none of them are having to defend their accusations against claims they were ‘starstruck’ or ‘seeking attention’. They shouldn’t have to, but when a woman comes forward to level a charge of sexual abuse, whether recent or historic, she has to run the gauntlet of press and public opinion that will shame her relentlessly for being abused.
Only when there can be no denial, such in the case of Jimmy Saville where his victims ran into the hundreds, do we see the women finally believed.
How the press is treating these male victims is correct.
They are being believed and praised for the strength they needed to get through those traumatic events.
Consider how women are often treated when they make the same sort of claims.
12 women came forward to say they were sexually assaulted by Donald Trump. 12. That’s more than a starting XI, in case you can’t count. Those women accused Trump of a type of assault that he bragged about undertaking. What happened? The women were vilified and Trump was made President of the United States.
When it comes to sexual assault, despite false accusations making up the tiniest, most minuscule proportion of all claims, the public will still lean towards believing the man over the woman even though history has shown us that a woman is infinitely more to be raped or sexually assaulted than a man is likely to have a false accusation levelled at him.
Recent research shows that between 0.5% and 8% of rape claims on US college campuses are false but students believe that false accusations account for 60% of all claims. The overall false reporting stats stand at around 2% – the same number as a load of other crimes, whereas it is believed that around 40% of rapes don’t even get reported.
We have a massive problem and it goes beyond the numbers of people being sexually assaulted.
When a man says he was sexually assaulted, we rightly believe him.
When a woman says the same, we make her prove it beyond all reasonable doubt while calling her a slut and whore for seeking out male attention.
Many of the boys who have been abused at these football clubs have admitted that they would have done anything to spend time with these coaches.
They saw them as idols and people who held the key to a future they always dreamed about.
Nobody would ever dare suggest these boys ‘brought it on themselves’.
So why do we have no problem making that our default assumption when it comes to women?