Profile picture
🔨Esther Baker 🔨 @Esther9982
, 77 tweets, 18 min read Read on Twitter
So. The beginning .. or middle. Depending on how you look at it. On the 16th January 2014 I left Rotherham ... with nothing more than a rucksack. I left behind a business, friends, pets, a house ..... a life. And to be fair it was time to leave it for various reasons.
Along with good stuff I left a lot of bad too. In what turned out to be a bit of a miracle my (not the first and no doubt the last) two months of homelessness were relatively uneventful. Having a job and no kids means no refuge - but between the councils, police & charity I went
Between hotels, hostels, a place which is affectionately dubbed “the crack den” and finally got a house on the 15th March 2014. A door that I could lock ..where no one else had a key -that I could build a new life from. Nobody knew me. I knew nobody & in many ways that was good.
Yes I was lonely. Still am sometimes. But nowhere near as lonely as I had been when I was surrounded by people who claimed to love me but not enough to care about what was happening to me apart from the two women that got me out.
I did the whole becoming human again thing. Got linked in with MH services, DV services. Kept all my appointments. Attended 12 step meetings. Did what I was supposed to do to get stronger, better, freer. Was referred to RASA and started attending counselling - had always said
from the beginning of the counselling there that I didn’t want to report to the police. Had been there and tried that a few times - they were never very interested & didn’t care enough to work with me to get beyond my fear of them and of talking. I’d also always said I wanted it
all to have been for a reason. I didn’t feel brave enough or strong enough to report again. There was family that I needed to protect and family that I needed protection from. To throw that bombshell in wasn’t an option at all!! A while into the counselling she told me about a
Child sexual abuse inquiry that was for those who had been abused in an organised way or setting and that had tried to get help from the authorities/schools/services and been ignored. She said they were asking for people like me to give them an idea of what they should by doing.
and what happened (with the authorities), what went wrong. What we thought was needed. What helped us, and what did’t. What we thought could have been done differently in our cases and what were our barriers in reporting or accessing help. She and I agreed it was a perfect idea.
The CSA inquiry had set up a group of what they had called “listening meetings” where victims and survivors could meet the panel and other people that had set it all up - and we’d be given a chance to advise them on all of the above in safety. Somebody would finally just listen!!
On the 12th December 2014 I walked with a support worker into that meeting in Manchester. I was a bit scared & nervous, but it made me realise how far I’d come in less than a year. That I was willing and maybe able to contribute to something with my experiences that could help.
I was optimistic that it would be what I’d always looked for. Somewhere to tell about the failings, surrounded by people that knew how it felt - we’d move forward to prevent this happening to others and would start to recover ourselves.
Nobody told me it was the gates to hell.
We walked in & were welcomed by the secretariat. There were a few places left to sit & we were given the choice between a table that was mainly (if not all) women & one that had some official looking men on it. That was no contest and I rolled my eyes they had to ask tbh.
It was a bit hard to take it all in. The only seats left meant I had to sit with my back in the open instead of against a wall so I could watch the whole room. As this was and still is uncomfortable for me I tried to focus on everyone’s words instead. The obligatory intros began
Some were short and sweet, others contained quite long bios. Mine was one of the first I think and was pretty much “my name’s Esther and I’m a survivor” (12 step programs had served me well). There were a few intros that I remember from that day that stood out to me. One was
from a panel member - one of the suits from the next table, and I prepared to be slightly bored tbh. But it was about a project on the Wirral (which to me could have been next door or a million miles away for all I knew), that sounded really quite good. The gist of it was a wrap
around service where you were passed between ten different people all trying to sort out one aspect of your life, but that did it all in one place. Sounded like a great idea to me but I didn’t need it. I thought I was on top of everything finally. Job. House. Sobriety. Health.
More than I’d ever had before anyway. I thought I’d maybe be able to recommend it to the groups I helped run online if anyone from that area popped up. So mental note taken, and forgotten. The other panel members spoke about their experience, blah blah. I was surprised that a lot
Of the people that spoke didn’t seem to necessarily be survivors, a lot of them were heads of support services, social workers & that sort of thing. Most of them sounded to me if I’m perfectly honest as if they were at some sort of job interview - their work experience, what they
thought the people they represented should think etc and I got bored and tuned out a few of them. Then one guy got up and sounded a bit angry - which always used to focus my attention pretty sharply in case I needed to get away. He started talking about chairs and lawyers and
government/political stuff. Who was behind the inquiry, who was in charge of it. Who was paying for it and staffing it and all that sort of stuff that had absolutely no relevance to me. My only thought about it all was annoyance. They’d asked survivors to come and discuss ways to
help, informed by experience & suddenly the room felt like it was full of people either jostling for money/jobs or people angry about stuff that wasn’t relevant to me and I thought it would never be relevant to me. It went over my head and I had no idea what they were on about.
It was all who had dinner with who 40 years ago and something about birthday parties and old prime ministers & their kids being involved with charities. A woman on my table stood up and spoke again. She was one of the two survivor panel members & so I listened. A lot of what she
Said addressed the angry man’s questions and so I still didn’t really know what they were on about. Then one sentence she said really made me listen. She said “if I think for one minute there is any interference in this inquiry I will stand up and be the first to say so”. Out of
all the stuff I’d seen and heard that day, she was the only one that I looked at while they were speaking and thought “bloody hell, this one is actually genuine”.

At the end of the meeting I kind of felt like we hadn’t really got anywhere in particular and that I was out of my
depth looking into some sort of history that everyone else seemed to know all about and I had no clue. The woman that I believed, and another woman came over to me to ask how I felt and what I had thought. They passed me their email addresses, and the one that I believed I told a
very vague summary of some what I had wanted them to know and how I felt about the meeting. That I was a little confused that it seemed to be mainly men talking about politic stuff rather than what I’d thought we were there for. We left holding a few bits of paper & emails.
Oh course. None of the current @InquiryCSA panel will remember any of this ..... because not a single one that I know of had started working at the inquiry yet. Most of them have invested a couple of years work..I don’t think any of them are about to hit their 4 year anniversary
So. Following the listening meeting we were sent an email saying what the inquiry had learnt from the session. These included the below. We thought we were getting somewhere. Take special note of no6 & 9. Incidentally these documents are not confidential as not part of the IICSA.
On the 17th December 2014 I sent the independent panel this letter about the meeting. I have edited out some details to protect privacy both mine and others .. but left as much as possible.…
It was the most I’d ever told anyone in one place at one time. It was a huge leap of faith for me. I didn’t tell them everything ... why would I? I had a spark of trust, and had learnt to listen to my gut instinct - but some things were too painful to go near. And at the back of
my mind was still the thought, and the echo of what they’d always said. “If you tell, we’ll know”.
So it was a relief to let some of it out, but at the same time terrifying. I didn’t know whether I’d said too much and could be identified from it by my abusers - and I sat back and waited/hoped for a reply. Two came through.
One said along with other things “I commit to you that I will do all I can to work to ensure that whatever can be done to stop such terrible abuse happening is put forward and acted upon” & “I will, if it is OK, come back to you again with a more detailed reply once I have ...
spoken with **** who I will be seeing in about two hours time. For now though, I wanted you to know that I have received this and will act on it”.

I never heard from this person again. Much later I found out the the lawyer in charge of “advising” the panel had told the panel
not to communicate directly with survivors unless in meetings.

It goes without saying that this lawyer, Mr Emmerson - did not take his own advice and felt perfectly entitled to those “survivors” who he felt would support his plans & ideas.
The other person who received the email replied with “I want to say thank you for having faith in me and *** and I can promise you that we believe you and will not let you down. Your message has arrived at a time when I need to find my own courage to ask all the questions you ..
have asked and to ensure I have the answers for you and for all the victims and survivors who having met the panel have put their faith in us.
I too have been dismayed at the large number of politically motivated people who have attended our listening meetings and who have ..
... been given an audience with the Home Secretary.”

This person, thankfully had a heart - and we still occasionally talk. They saw how harmful the “advice” from the lawyer would be to a survivor who had just started to trust - and followed up on my later emails to them.
Over the few days following the listening meeting a lot of negative press about the panel inquiry. A couple of people (who weren’t at the meeting) were standing up and saying that survivors didn’t have any trust in the inquiry or the panel. That survivors wanted a reboot. These
few people, curiously all seemed to be men. For the first time in a long, long time I was angry. Who in the hell were these people to say they represented me as a survivor and declaring the opposite of what I actually thought. Every survivor in the meeting I had attending had
said they supported the inquiry and the panel. I had connected with some of the panel and genuinely thought they were to be trusted. These men that seemingly appeared from nowhere were taking the voice that I’d only just found. I wanted people to know that they weren’t speaking
on behalf of me .. or any other survivor that I knew. They were speaking for themselves,and doing exactly what people had expressed in the meeting they were finding hard to deal with. The negativity was scaring survivors away from the inquiry, silencing them and that wasn’t right
So ... not having any “media” connections like these people magically seemed to have gained from nowhere there was little else for me to do apart from to contact the panel member and the inquiry to say that these men weren’t speaking for us all. Not by any means. I asked if there
was a way that I could put the alternate view across. Having been in counselling for a few months I had identified that there is something inside me - that was installed there by my abuse that meant that I felt that anything I touched or was involved in would be tainted by my
“Inner badness” a dirty smudge that would cause everything around it to be destroyed. I had worked on this with my counsellor and others to see this for what it was. Something I’d been told ... not something that I was. But then when the news that May was considering disbanding
the panel inquiry altogether it brought that feeling back full force. I wrote to the panel & said the below. In turn I was put in contact with another survivor .. one of many who felt like I did That this wasn’t right and needed challenging. From there I agreed to do an anonymous
interview with Channel 4 News. Certainly a far cry from the girl a few weeks before. But I was passionate about and believed in the panel inquiry and believed that those involved had the balls to fight for the truth and to stop what happened to me happening to others.
From that moment on I became a target for certain people and I have/had no idea why -apart from the fact I dared to disagree with some sort of prewritten survivors code from those that had been pushing their agenda & from people I had no idea existed. It was certainly eye opening
It turned out that 79 people had asked for the panel to be disbanded. In January 2015 a number of things happened in a bit of a whirlwind. There was further press in which I wrote an open letter to Theresa May ... parts of it were published in the Mirror or the People? This was
published on the 14th Jan 2015 - which happened to be the same day that the White Flowers event in Parliament was held. It was fronted by Phil Frampton .. who turned out to be “angry man” from the listening meetings. From what I remember it contained a few MPs who I’d never heard
of ... and it was pretty horrible to attend, as I described in a letter copied to various people. Half way through I left and sat in the lobby for a while. As it was frustrating to the max. I think the letter pretty much sums it up.
letter continued ...
One of the people copied into this letter was Sandra Laville at the Guardian. She asked to send the letter on to the comment people on the newspaper and I agreed. I sent her some of the abuse I’d been getting online and she asked first if I would sit down and talk with her and
then asked if I had any “support”. She recommended McFadyen 🙄 and offered me his number. I’m guessing that she then contacted him to make him aware of me (without my consent)- and pointed out that the abuse I had been sent was taken from Mcfadyen’s timeline. I was then told by
her that “people were concerned about me” and my welfare ... then pretty much dropped off contact - after I pointed out that after all my experiences that I was perfectly capable of deciding what I wanted to do media wise as long as my anonymity was guaranteed, and I didn’t tell
enough detail for them to know I was talking about them and starting to reveal the abuse.

At around the same time as this was going on there had been a petition based on my story and my opinions promoted by the People (or Mirror) 🤷‍♀️ - that called for Theresa May not to scrap
the panel inquiry .. and to just bloody get on with it all. The petition within 5 days reached 22,000 signatures- in the end it reached over 30,000 signatures .... vs the 79 people asking for it to be abandoned and reset in a different format. No contest you’d think.
At about the same time I became aware that a letter to Theresa May was circulating around the survivor community from a company (coughs) - sorry, erm group? Called the Survivors Alliance. Nobody had really heard of them ... which wasn’t surprising as they had only set up at the
same time as the inquiry, or shortly afterwards. This group comprised of mainly the “angry people”, those that thought they could run the inquiry better and wanted a job role onit. People from various survivor charities (companies) who had been stirred up by the offers of funding
for their charities, and no doubt personal jobs for themselves. It seemed to be mainly the “old boys” club with a few extra egos. The letter was the same old stuff that had been circulated before, the political stuff that had bored me at the listening meeting .. a bit of a waffle
about how great/experienced/knowledgeable they all were - but for some reason they had decided to use me as an example in their letter. Because I didn’t agree with their views, and had stood up and said so -I was touted as a vulnerable person being manipulated. In all the cliches
that they threw about saying that survivors were strong, brave, independent people - the narcissism shown by deciding that a survivor who dared to disagree with them must have been “manipulation of a vulnerable victim”. Furthermore the actions of the panel was outrageous- imagine
they actually had the audacity to sit down with a survivor and listen to them. AT A SURVIVORS LISTENING MEETING 😳😳. How obviously and completely inappropriate for them to do that 🙄.
Furthermore there was so much concern about the panel listening .. in a listening meeting the
only possible way to rectify it would be for the Home Secretary, a head lawyer, and the head secretariat to sit down and personally listen to them (the important, non-manipulated, un-vulnerable survivors) in a distinctly unlistening meeting. As obviously their opinion were way
more valid than mine and the 30,000+ people who must have also been manipulated into signing my petition. It’s also very important for readers of this thread to take note of this group demanding to know what “formal support” was offered to me. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?
On the 20th January 2015 I sent my first “complaint” to the inquiry, about the harassment I was receiving due solely to my involvement in the inquiry and the opinions I held about wanting it to continue. I am limited in what I can say about this complaint as it is still relevant
to ongoing criminal and civil proceedings that continue to this day ..... which is really quite sad considering that it was nearly 4 years ago now. I will take advice in the morning as to how much I can release of it in the morning. Didn’t want anyone to think I’d forgotten you x
This letter to the panel inquiry was the first in a series of emails which variously warned them of criminal or at least unsavoury acts by people involved with the inquiry ... and it appears it’s the first time in which I asked them to help report the matters to the police.
Of course .... they didn’t report it to the police ... or take any action. I can’t remember if they even replied to be honest.
A huge amount happened within the next week or so & its pretty hard to sort out the order of it all. Due to the petition - and a meeting with my local MP to discuss the petition and the inquiry’s future I was invited to meet with some other survivors at the Home Office with May
to apparently be “consulted” on the future of the inquiry etc .. in the lead up to this there was a HASC committee meeting in which the inquiry were due to report to the HASC what was going on. One of the panel members Sharon Evans - had raised concerns about the independence of
the inquiry (as she had promised at the listening meeting she would if she felt that it wasn’t independent) and as such certain people in the inquiry tried to prevent her from attending that committee meeting.

Unluckily for them they didn’t know that Sharon is not a lady to be
be brushed off if she believes there is something dodgy going on. She attended that meeting (which is available online somewhere I imagine), she raised her concerns about the inquiry and the influences that were being put upon it and she raised allegations about the solicitor to
the inquiry at the time QC Ben Emmerson and his bullying behaviour towards her - and lack of support for the attacks that members of the panel were undergoing from the “vocal survivors”. Of course Vaz et al pretended to be mostly shocked and concerned by all of this and made the
right noises about looking into it all, protecting the panel from spurious attacks on their characters and finding out what was going on. Looking back Vaz then pretended to be influential - and threw half of the info provided online in error & the rest in his washing machines.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to 🔨Esther Baker 🔨
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!