Felixstowe vicar tells of abuse he suffered as a young man to ‘change attitudes’
A Suffolk vicar is speaking out about the sexual abuse he suffered as a young man – a secret he has kept for almost 40 years – in a bid to stop women suffering at the hands of men.
Felixstowe clergyman Reverend Andrew Dotchin is sharing his experience to encourage men, who he claims are the main perpetrators when it comes to sexual harassment, to join together and change their attitudes towards women.
Although he accepts that there are instances where women abuse men – and he was assaulted by a man himself – the Reverend said the biggest problem, laid bare by recent allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, lies in the way men treat women.
The 61-year-old, who only told his family about the abuse this week, said: “So the bare facts of it are I was in my early twenties at a boarding hostel in Cape Town and a man came into my room, climbed into my bed with me, laid on top of me and had his way with me and when he was finished he got up and walked out.
“I was absolutely shocked and ashamed. I didn’t speak about it for 40 years, that is how long it takes. I had not even told my family until this week, and if it has taken me 40 years to say anything, how long is it going to take a woman in the same position? Would she be believed?”
The Reverend was inspired to speak out after one of his gay friends did the same using the #MeToo hashtag on social media, which has appeared in recent days as victims of harassment in the workplace speak out in the wake of the Weinstein allegations.
He added: “It (#MeToo) exposes the true scale of the problem. Women are laughed at, told it is their fault for wearing certain things.
“Even when they have the courage to speak they are victim shamed.
“Men need to stand up and change their attitudes – I am a white man who is privately educated and work for the established church so I am considered to be privileged in our society, women are not and it absolutely should not be that way.
“I had told the police what had happened at the time they would have just laughed in my face.
“Can you imagine what they would have said to a woman?
“They are constantly belittled and it is totally unacceptable. We as a gender need to step up and say no – this needs to stop and we as men have the power to make it stop.”