Friday, October 29, 2010

Victim speaks
Victim speaks out to help others
Court Case Abuse Victim King's Lynn

Published on Fri Oct 08 07:11:28 BST 2010

FORMER pastor of Lynn Baptist Fellowship Church Malcolm Hoare, accused of sexually abusing a young church member, was found guilty of five charges last month.

It was news which shocked Norwich Crown Court. His victim couldn’t bear to be in court to hear it.

Bravely, she has spoken to the Lynn News about her dreadful experiences at the hands of Hoare, a man she trusted implicitly.

“Yes, I was a victim but I feel like I am a survivor because I didn’t let it ruin my life.”

Now, she wants to help others. This is her story.

MALCOLM Hoare’s victim is happy.

For 30 years, she had carried his abuse with her, without realising how much it had been affecting everything she did.

Listening to the guilty verdicts was the turning point. “I just felt like the clouds had lifted. I felt so peaceful and so appreciative of everything I have got. And all the little niggles you go through don’t seem relevant any more.

“I feel totally complete,” she said.

“I feel nothing can phase me and I want to do lots of new things.”

The case was harrowing. “As hard as it was, I did the right thing,” she said.

“I felt proud of myself for doing it because it was damn hard but I would encourage any girl out there who has been through this, however long ago, to fight for it because it is well worth it in the end, for how I am feeling now.”

The woman – who wishes to remain anonymous at this stage – became a member of Hoare’s church community at around the age of 10 when she was going through a particularly difficult time.

He befriended her – and she adored him.

“He was like a father figure. He spoilt me,” she recalled.

She soon turned 11, and there were little things she remembered, she said, such as going out for rides with him in a car.

The court heard Hoare, now 68, had taken her to a piece of wasteland. “I didn’t understand what his intentions were. The only social life I had outside the church was school,” said the woman.

She admitted she had become very attached to Hoare, as a child would. “He was a very well-respected man, very highly thought of.” Her parents had trusted her with him completely.

Friends were envious of the relationship they perceived she had with Hoare. She said: “I did feel very special.”

However, things progressed. Of the abuse the woman said: “It started off as kissing and cuddling and then he just took something that was not his to take.”

Asked if she was able to confide in anyone, she added: “We were taught as a church we shouldn’t gossip. Anything with anyone else, it was not our place to talk about.”

At the age of 16, the woman rebelled – and got a boyfriend.

She had a child. She later went on to marry another man, whom she describes as her soulmate, and have more children.

“We were not to go out with anyone who was not a Christian,” she said, adding she had felt “tremendous guilt” about the relationship with her boyfriend.

Of her marriage she said: “I was happy I had found a man I knew I had real love with for the first time.

I was totally in love with him.”

As she grew older, Hoare was still around, the woman claiming he felt jealous of her other relationships.

Four years into the marriage, the woman told her husband of the abuse. He was devastated, she said, feeling a deep sadness for what his wife had been through.

Matters came to a head when, in 2008, the woman was watching a training video for work. It featured abuse and she had to leave.

When counsellors approached her, it had all gushed out. They had made her see how serious it was, asking her how she would feel if she realised this was happening to someone else.

Extraordinarily, the woman asked Hoare to visit her and she confronted him.

“I just said, ‘who do you think you are, doing that to me at that age?’.”

She then had the difficult task of telling her family and police.

At trial, a DVD showed her evidence but she was personally cross-examined by Hoare’s defence, the worst experience of her life.

Listening to Hoare’s evidence, she was “in shock” and “really sad”, she said.

He denied sexual abuse of a girl from his congregation for five years from when she was 11 but said he did have a sexual encounter with the girl when she was 16.

Looking back, she said: “He was that close to me the boundaries became fuzzy. I really don’t feel he thought he had done anything wrong.”

Looking forward, she feels she finally has closure.

Because of the case, she tracked down her first child’s biological father to see what he remembered. He had since met his son, she said.

And the woman encourages anyone to visit The Stop-Start Group which helps victims of sexual abuse.

It meets at the Discovery Centre, North Lynn. telephone 07788 196138 for more details.

“I haven’t any confidence but I feel strong, particularly going through the case,” she said.

“It might not ever have come out but it has, thank God.”

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