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Doctors told victim to forget about abuse

Doctors told victim to forget about abuse

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Doctors told victim to forget about abuse

Wednesday 13 August 2014

A victim of the Island’s care system was told to “forget about the past” by all the doctors she spoke to, the ongoing independent inquiry into the abuse of children heard yesterday.

And it was only when she wrote to a States Member that he put her in touch with someone who she could talk to about it.

Speaking about her experiences in public for the first time, Mrs Violet Renouf explained that she had been taken into care when she was about six years old, shortly after starting school.

She, along with the hundred or so girls who were also housed at the former Jersey Home for Girls, were subject to a “very strict” regime, she told the inquiry, and “were always hit with sticks”.

Staff also put girls in an isolation room to punish them and on one occasion, when she was eight years old, a frying pan was held above Mrs Renouf’s head and the hot contents tipped over her.

“I remember the grease and the contents of the frying pan running all down my side,” she stated in her written testimony which was reviewed yesterday.

Girls were punished for not remembering certain passages from the bible or for losing items of clothing and, when Mrs Renouf lost a penny she’d been given for the church collection at Christmas, “I was sent back to the Home and made to eat bread and water when everyone else went for Christmas dinner,” she told the panel.

And at the age of 15, after spending six months in service at a private home, she was sent back to the Home and placed in isolation for 21 days without any contact with other girls, after her ration book went missing.

However, despite the treatment they received at the hands of staff, she and a number of girl still managed to pass the 11-plus exam, which gave them entry to the intermediate school, but were not allowed to attend as it was in town.

As she stated in her written submission, “It felt like the Home wanted all the girls to either be stupid, so they could be admitted to St Saviour’s Hospital (the psychiatric hospital) or very naughty, so they could be sent to a school for naughty girls in England.”

Eventually, because of her intelligence and high IQ, she was finally able to leave the Home and get a job working with children, although this was thanks to the intervention of a senior politician. And again, more recently, it was through the actions of an unnamed male Senator that she was able to “get help” dealing with her past.

Mrs Renouf said the lack of love and affection shown to her as a child had had a lifelong impact and that lessons had to be learned when dealing with children.

She said: “Don’t put them into care unless you know they are going to be looked after properly and loved, and that’s where I have missed out.”

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