Bishop of Chester abuse: I am a victim of Victor Whitsey and it cost me everything
When I met Victor Whitsey I was young, innocent, and naïve. I longed for his blessing to achieve my wish of a future as a vicar, serving God and the community. He told me he agreed I had a calling from God. He also told me he had the power to give me everything I wanted in life and the power to take it all away: He then proceeded to abuse me sexually and psychologically. I was powerless to stop him.
I blamed myself, thought I was the only victim and rationalised that it was my fault. If he was acting with God's will, I should have enjoyed and welcomed what he did but I didn't; if he was acting against God's will, I should have rejected and reported him but I didn't. Whichever way I rationalised it, I was a failure and not worthy of God's love.
I told no-one. Who would believe a teenage boy's word against a Bishop of the Church of England? I became reclusive and came to the ultimate conclusion the prospect of ever seeing Victor Whitsey again was so abhorrent to me that I turned my back on my beloved church and my calling to serve God. I self-harmed and have spent a lifetime focusing on resentment and bitterness.
Twenty years after my abuse, I suffered a complete mental nervous breakdown which included attempted suicide. Because of the sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of Victor Whitsey I lost my faith, my chosen life as a vicar, my self-belief, my freedom from worry and my dignity. Child sex abuse is a crime which stays with you for a lifetime. As a child you don't understand why or what is happening, but as you grow older you realise the enormity of the abuse and it hurts you all over again - you blame yourself for allowing it - you hate yourself for being weak.
Since my abuse, not a day has gone by that I have not thought about what happened to me. In my mind I have a high definition video of what I went through, that I cannot eradicate no matter how hard I try. I remember him coming at me with shaking hands, I remember the feel of him on me, and I remember the last time I closed the door on my parish church realising that Christ had left me and I was utterly alone with horrific memories I could share with no-one.
I would like to put on record that I cannot fault the police response or the sensitive, professional, and victim-centred approach they have taken. The position I am in now is that I now know I am believed and am in control of my future. I cannot see my abuser face trial in a court on earth but I hope that by a public acknowledgement of what Whitsey did to us, the church can learn that they need to adopt a new culture of openness. I hope that there will be a public inquiry to understand not only what Whitsey did to his victims but to also learn who knew what he was doing, to what extent his actions were intentionally covered up, and who else was complicit in the crimes that he committed, and for which, I continue to suffer every day of my life.
This account comes courtesy for Slater Gorden, a law firm representing a number of Bishop Whitsey's victims.
An investigation published today concluded that had Bishop Whitsey been alive today, he would have faced police questioning.