A SURVIVOR of clerical child sex abuse has said she felt “interrogated” during her benefits application.
Kate Walmsley has been left with a series of health complaints and lingering trauma caused by her childhood experience. She met officials from the Social Security Agency in Belfast on Thursday to express concern over her treatment by staff during the transition to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit. “When I did go [for a benefits interview] I was ashamed. I just felt ashamed and looked down on,” she said. A priest assaulted her while she was a child. By the time she was 12, he was having sex with her, she told a public inquiry. She has waived her right
‘When I did go I was ashamed. I felt interrogated. I just felt ashamed and looked down on –Kate Walmsley
to anonymity. Ms Walmsley said she had post-traumatic stress disorder, bulimia and a series of other health problems. She has tunnel vision, and when she worked in a shop she knocked the models down behind her. Her PIP case is still being processed by the authorities. She explained to officials yesterday how upset the process made her.
She said it triggered feelings with when she was 15 and living in a derelict house in Derry and could not get benefits because she was too young [another reason why never to vote the Tories]. “I used to have to wait until the evening until people came out of the pubs and ask them for a shilling to get a bag of chips,” she said. “I was shoplifting because I had no money to clothe myself. ” I felt as if I was begging to live, for somebody who had her life taken from her, her childhood taken from her, her whole life in fact because of it all.”
She was accompanied to the meeting by other abuse survivors and SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon, pictured above, who said the PIP process had re-tramatised many victims. “This is a group in our society that is very vulnerable, who have been spectacularly failed by the state and suffered horrific abuse. ” They need to be treated with greater compassion, decency and fairness and for many of them when it comes to the welfare system they are not, and that needs to change.
“We felt it was a positive meeting, we felt that the department (for Communities) listened, the proof will be in what the department actually does and the measures it puts in place to better support this group of people.” A public inquiry led by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart recommendations have not been acted upon because of the collapse of power-sharing.
With many thanks to: Michael McHugh and The Irish News for the original story.