I watched ‘Leaving Neverland’, along with millions of others in utter disgust as two men, now fathers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck recounted in depth over 4 hours, the sexual and emotional abuse they had experienced at the hands of their idol, of our (former) idol, Michael Jackson.
I’m staggered how anyone can dismiss them as liars and deny Michael Jackson’s abuse of them, and no doubt, hundreds of other children. How people can be paedophile apologists when these men’s admissions and those of their families, are so vividly documented here.
I can only surmise that the polarised reaction to the HBO documentary is in part due to the fact that, like those boys, we too, THE WORLD, were groomed: led to believe this man-child we thought was vulnerable himself with his high-pitched voice and gentle exterior, was innocently hanging around with kids because he had missed out on his own childhood. Many of us undoubtedly thought it odd but most couldn’t accept someone we had grown up with, the soundtrack to our lives (I even saw him live at Roundhay Park in 92 in Leeds) was capable of such monstrosities.
Surely the man who sang I’m Bad couldn’t actually be bad?
We were fooled, every single one of us, and part of our childhood was destroyed along with those revelations and those families’ lives, last week.
The negative reaction from some of the world, is exactly why so few adults reveal child abuse, with many taking it to the grave.
Psychologists have written extensively on this subject with far greater expertise and clarity on this than I ever could: on the loyalty those abused so often feel to their abusers, and both men admitted they had loved Michael Jackson and felt protective towards him.
That bond, that love for the abuser, is why Rob Wade defended Michael Jackson in court and why it took years for those men to acknowledge, accept and speak up about what happened.
There were threats too of course, consequences to the abuse which prevented the boys’ admissions earlier. ‘Michael told me we’d go to jail for the rest of our lives,’ said Wade recounting his experience aged 7.
As a mother of two young sons, I watched in tears, broken by the end, in witnessing the destruction of so many people’s lives at the hands of Jackson: the two men, their parents, wives and siblings….
What also struck me, was the total and absolute adoration of celebrity at all costs, and the power Jackson had over the pawns in his world.
The implicit trust those families felt towards him and his demi-g_d like status, was the greatest enabler of all.
I ask how many in Michael Jackson’s team knew of his behaviour, some no doubt turning a blind eye or others actively supporting and enabling the abuse. I believe many.
I personally couldn’t fathom how those undeniably loving mothers accepted on any condition, why Michael would want to sleep in the same room as their children. I couldn’t process their naivety. I will never grasp how they trusted that man into their hearts and those of their children, but the blame does not lie solely with them, it lies firstly with Michael, his own father who abused him and his siblings before him as La Toya Jackson stated in this interview in 1991, and the celebrity culture we collectively bow down to which so very often empowers those who destroy.
I feel for those mothers, my heart breaks with theirs, and I admire everyone who spoke their truth in the documentary, and to help prevent something like this from ever happening again.
I hope with intensive therapy (EMDR to remove trauma, perhaps), those families can heal.
Michael is dead, but those clearly brilliant, creative, loving fathers and their families deserve to live, to really LIVE, and not just survive.