A campaign recently presented in Barcelona by the Vicky Bernadet foundation, which fights against child sexual abuse, denounces the most invisible side of this scourge: the heavy backpack that the victims carry for many years, alone and without daring to break the silence. The advertising agency Ogilvy, an accomplice of the foundation for six years, has captured this idea with a striking campaign.
The idea is as simple as it is disturbing. In photos and recordings of about twenty seconds (one of which can be seen below) people of different ages appear, in different everyday scenes. Everyone carries someone on their back: a coach, a family member, a tutor... And they all ask themselves the same question: "Can you imagine 23, 30 or 46 years old carrying what happened in that locker room, in your house or in that dispatch?".
The presentation of the campaign coincided with the plenary assembly of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (see final breakdown), in which Cardinal Omella, archbishop of Barcelona and president of the Spanish bishops, encouraged victims to report to the dioceses. . He also said that the Church reviews its protocols and collaborates with civil authorities so that pedophiles are brought to justice.
The campaign also coincides with a report by the Ombudsman of Greuges of Catalonia, Esther Giménez-Salinas, on another capital issue in the defense of children's rights, the “lack of policies to support families to prevent the risk of homelessness.” ”. The Generalitat protects 279 children under six years of age in Catalonia and the Ombudsman recalls that the “institutionalization” of these children is “very negative.”
Giménez-Salinas recalled a few days ago the “disastrous institution” of the Women's Protection Board in the Parliament commission that investigates pedophilia in the Church. She has now criticized that the Administration has a “non-guarantee” system because the same agency initiates and executes the process of abandonment, which can only be reversed through judicial means. “but not before a year or more has passed.”
Many families from whom their children are removed feel more “monitored and punished by the general directorate of Child Protection” than helped, which makes it difficult for them to reverse the problems of neglect or neglect that triggered the entry of their children into a center of the Generalitat. It should be about “preventing to protect”, not “separating to protect”, the Ombudsman's report emphasizes.
The report calls for reforming the centers where these minors are housed so that they are residences with fewer than ten places each to try to make them as similar as possible to "a family environment." The Catalan ombudsman also urges the Generalitat to do “intensive” work by the child and youth care teams to promote return to biological families whenever possible.
That the presentation of this document coincides with the Church's new mea culpa or with a campaign that emphasizes the silenced pain of the victims shows how much work still has to be done in defense of the most vulnerable. This November 19, the International Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse was commemorated, with the utopian idea that such an event will not be necessary in the near future.
According to the World Health Organization, the scourge of child sexual abuse “is still very present in our daily lives and affects one in five minors.” To this chilling figure, says the Vicky Bernadet Foundation, we must add a no less chilling percentage of what the campaign calls the “burden of silence”: between 85 and 90% of victims of child abuse do not ask for help until they are adulthood.
Among other research, these statements are supported by a study by Noemí Pereda, Judit Abad and Georgina Guilera. The first has a doctorate in Clinical and Health Psychology from the University of Barcelona (UB), as well as a professor of Victimology at the University of Barcelona. On the research; The second also works in this field at the D'EP sociological institute; and the third has a doctorate in Psychology from the UB.
“What does it mean to have gone through the trance of sexual abuse when you have to live with this reality without freeing yourself?” asks Vicky Bernadet, herself a victim of this scourge. Her answer: “Carrying a backpack whose emotional and psychological weight grows year after year.” Abuse, says this expert, has consequences that can manifest themselves a long time later. They are burdens that “affect all areas of life.”
What burdens? The most common are: depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety, self-harming behaviors, low self-esteem, social isolation, imbalances in relationships and parenting. And what is the objective? “May these experiences become memories.” That is, the victims do not always feel the oppressive weight on their backs of what happened “in that locker room, in their house or in that office.”