It is said that child abuse occurs mainly among the lower socioeconomic groups in society. This makes me think of Sue B. a 23 year old university student. She was charismatic and admired by everyone. She sparkled. She was an outstanding conversationalist. I think of her soft pink features and blond hair. She resembled a porcelain doll. We were both on the same ward and we were both bulimic. We bonded over a binge. She confided in one of the groups that she had been sexually abused by her grandfather. She came from a well-to-do family of academics. She had been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder but, as far as I am aware, her abuse was never addressed.
After six months in hospital I returned home for the rest of the academic year. Sue B. and I exchanged addressed (this was the mid ‘90s when people wrote these paper things called ’letters.’ but we never wrote to one another and I never saw her again. I found out after I had graduated that she had hanged herself in the bathroom of the local psychiatric hospital (my alma mater too) when she was supposed to be on ‘five minute obs’ . So I know that abuse can occur in middle class families. And that when they confide in the authorities they may be the people who are least likely to be believed.
Having said that there are those who cast their net too wide and increase the definition of the word ‘abuse’ to such an extent that it becomes invalid. It is possible to ‘over identify’ abuse. But I shall deal with that on another occasion.