What contact did Ben have with statutory services?
Ben was unable to secure long-term employment and cycled through a range of mental health services, collecting a variety of diagnoses. On occasion, he was sectioned. However, he still found it hard to explore his victimisation and was reluctant to even use the words ‘sexual abuse’.
Shortly after his 23rd birthday, after one of his abusers had been released from prison and had got in touch with him, Ben became extremely distressed. He entered a mental health unit – at first voluntarily, but he was sectioned after attempting to hang himself there. During this period, there was a change in Ben’s presentation. Whilst still challenging in his behaviours, Ben now spent his days telling anybody he could about his experiences of being sexually exploited, asking ‘How would you feel if that happened to you?’ He lobbied his psychiatrist to place the media cuttings from the trial of his abusers on the front page of his file – ‘so everybody would know why he was distressed,’ he told staff.
On the day following this request to the psychiatrist, Ben took his own life. His request for the media cuttings to be placed on the front page of his file hadn’t been supported. During his inquest it was disclosed that none of the staff had received any training in responding to sexual violence survivors’ disclosures. Ben’s psychiatrist stated that he didn’t believe it was necessary as they were trained to deal with mental illness. However, he did acknowledge that patients with histories of sexual exploitation required specialist support and that Ben had been seen by a borderline personality disorder service the day before he took his own life.