Where Victims Fit In

Aileen Quinton’s article from the News Letter last week about pressures felt by victims:In light of the recent rioting, anger seems to be the emotion of the moment. I am angry too.

Angry about terrorism, prisoner releases, OTRs, RIR disbandment, parades rerouting, pressure to have terrorists in government and the suspicion that we will be increasingly maliciously misgoverned until we do.

All this with the odious thread of appeasement running through it
all. I am angry that the government has fostered a situation where
there is no distinction between right and wrong and where the only thing that matters is what you can get away with. However, we do not need to chart our path using the IRA’s or our government’s moral compass.

The rioting should not have taken place, primarily because it was plain wrong. In addition, the images on our screens will have widened the grin on the faces of our enemies, including the people who planned authorised and carried out my mother’s murder.

Over the years there have been four main things that have kept a lid on my anger, The first two are not wanting to do anything that would reflect badly on my mother and an attempt to consider others needs and sensitivity. The third was endeavouring to be responsible as to the potential outcome.

However the fourth significant one was not wanting to risk being lectured or criticised by other people for my grief and anger or for not coping. Most of the time I simply did not have the courage not to be nice. I have been involved off and on in trying to raise awareness of issues of murder and disaster victims. I made a TV programme which was recommended as a training video by a HO report into disaster response. I have given talks and written articles. One key issue I
highlight is the pressure victims can be put under to fit into what other people require of them.

We are treated as poor wee things when someone wants to dispense us a dollop of good and on the other hand expected to be brave and inspiring on cue. Our grief and our anger are things we must keep to ourselves. I had the distinct impression that as long as the veneer held, it did not matter that I was dying inside. I have said over and over again that one of the most important thing victims needs is to claim the right to their own feelings and that one of the best things that anyone else can do is to give them that permission.

As part of the victims’ network, I was recently took part in a 5Live radio program, with Dania, who lost her sister in the July bombing in London. She spoke about the pressure to be nice and the feeling
she had been given that her emotions were “wrong”.

I am angry and frustrated that even with all my efforts in the past and what I hear about advances in supporting victims after such events, Dania had to get the vital message that she was entitled to be angry, thorough a radio program two months after the event!

There are, of course many in Northern Ireland still waiting years after their lives have been shattered, for their needs to be properly addressed.

The support was not one-way traffic. Out of the blue Dania threw me by telling me how angry she was about the release of “that terrorist” . She could not understand why we were letting the Shankhill bomber out of prison.

It is so rare that anyone except “ourselves” cares about Northern Ireland terrorism. Our victims are an embarrassing reminder of something people want to pretend is not happening and indeed never happened. We are the after-taste of an exceptionally synthetic lemon meringue pie. By not accepting the concept of the cuddly Provos, Dania validated my anger.

Victims need to come together more often to find their voice and support each other. Others can feel threatened by this idea. Politically it is a potentially powerful force that may not prove easy to control or to buy off.

Also, some in the “trauma industry” can feel that this encroaches on their territory. If we all start helping each other, where does that leave them?

Victims should not have to tailor their needs to suit anyone else’s agenda or expectations. So you can look elsewhere for your docile, grateful, brave and inspiring victims. I am a “bad-assed” angry one and to quote a phrase used by others to us “get over it!”