I recently finished a podcast series entitled “The Band Played On,” hosted by journalist Julie Ireton and featured on CBC Radio. It was a 7 episode podcast which featured stories of historical, sexual abuse at the hands of three teachers, spanning four decades, involving forty-four identified victims. And it all happened from the 1970’s – 1990’s in an Ottawa high school.
The podcast itself was very well done; there were many interviews with the victims, we were able to follow along through the paths of justice, and it shone a light on not only the importance of individual accountability for someone’s sins, but also systemic responsibility for allowing the abuse to continue.
For anyone who struggles in understanding how high school students can “let themselves be abused,” just listening to this podcast will give you a greater understanding of how power differentials create not only a blind trust in those who lead us as children; it also forges an internalized shame that is isolating and long-lasting.
In the final episode, I appreciated one victim’s account of having to potentially face his accuser in the courtroom:
Julie Ireton explains that Bob Clarke (accused teacher) was already in prison when police laid new charges against him in John Coady’s case. Coady braced for a court appearance. “I thought if he pleads not guilty, then we are just going to have to go to court and fucking testify in front of people so we’re going to play this cat and mouse game. I’m not doing that. And then I said “Oh, hold on a second, I am fucking doing that.” No more secrets for John Coady. “I’m not a secret keeper.”
Very often, those who have been sexually abused as children, do become the secret keepers; the keeping of that secret can be devastating. The Band Played On provides its audience with an honest view of what it feels like to not only keep a secret, but also the healing qualities of having finally let it go.
The Band Played On is a worthy listen. Visit the website at: https://xd.wayin.com/display/container/dc/30d9e51f-0909-428b-a5ea-ba4c734a96b8/details
Photo credit:http://Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash
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