I am writing to you to tell you who I am.
With my work with THEATREclub, I have built an artistic practice on speaking truth to power. It has taken me to methadone clinics across the country; to dig physical and metaphorical holes in city council land; to live with the people of Moyross in Limerick City; and to sit and listen to hundreds of people who feel oppressed, let down, and abandoned over the last ten years.
I’ll admit this to you, Josepha, it’s been easier for me to stand up for other people than to stand up for myself.
My blog post about my experience with Michael Colgan was the first time in my life that I or publicly shared my own experience. I was supported by many, but many felt I didn’t have the right to bear witness to my own experience. They worried about the use of social media and they felt I should have followed ‘due process’. I know you’re worried about that too. Let’s talk about that:-
This experience with Michael Colgan had something in common with most of the abuse that I have experienced in my life. It happened to me out in the open in front of people. It was witnessed, and nobody did anything to help me. There was nowhere I could go to help myself. There was no due process in place.
I used social media because I had nowhere else to go. I believed that once this abuse of power was exposed and out in the open, we as a community could figure out how to respond, and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I trusted that due process would be restored, and there would be somewhere to go for other survivors who came after me.
That didn’t happen, and here’s what did: –
Eleven women in total have spoken publicly about Michael Colgan’s abuse of power.
Michael Colgan got to write his own verdict in the Sunday Independent and The Gate Theatre has assumed the right to investigate themselves. Crucially, Josepha, the decision as to how much of The Gate Theatre’s report is made public is entirely up to those who would have a vested interest in keeping it buried.
People are writing to me, daily, because I am now the only place they can go.
Inspired by my post, Adrienne Corless has also named people, in her account of her experiences of Abuse Of Power at The National Museum, where she was sexually harassed by Andy Halpin. As an employee, she had access to due process, which she promptly followed, and it failed her. Her abuse was witnessed. She was one who had to leave.
There is a crisis in your new portfolio.
People are suffering.
Their abuse is an open secret.
No one is stepping in to help.
I feel I cannot stand idly by.
So, I am offering anyone who has experienced abuse of power, in the form of sexual harassment, bullying, or corruption, a platform to expose these open secrets by publishing on my blog: with the help of Legal and Therapeutic professionals.
I believe we need to keep digging and keep exposing the reality of what is happening in our country. I had hoped there would be a better way. I hoped someone else would step in. But if the past month has taught me anything, it’s that I can’t trust the people in authority to not sit back, do nothing, and watch as people are abused in front of them.
(To any of those suffering reading this, please get in touch with me.
I believe you before you open your mouth. )
I am doing this because this is who I am, Josepha.
My question is who are you?
Tell me, what are you going to do?