Facing the darkness
I read with great interest the article about the Centrepoint community in Auckland (Bert's Labyrinth, September). I lived at Centrepoint in the early 1980s when I was a child. It was a harrowing experience for me. As well as having to endure isolated, frightening events, I was traumatised by Centrepoint itself. Many things about the community exposed me and terrified me and have left deep scars. It has negatively affected my relationships, and has reverberated down through the years, returning again and again with fresh power to unseat me when I least expect it.
I feel deep appreciation for those people who bravely shared thier stories with Anke Richter. Their daring in speaking out and risking ridicule and public shame, not to mention the turmoil of their own self-doubt, is to be admired. I hope this is one more step in their journeys to repair and wholeness. Hearing their stories has given me the confidence to share my own story in my own context, something which has long been overdue. Thank you, Anke, for being another voice for justice and risking your own mental wellbeing to pursue that end. Your article was not just another tiresome delve into an over-thrashed story. It made a great difference to me.
I want to address the adults of Centrepoint and their supporters. The consequences of your choices deeply mattered to those of us entrusted into your care. You will not understand how your ongoing support for Centrepoint over the years meant we had no space in which to tell our stories and how our shame grew as a result. You may never know - or allow yourself to fully consider - the extent to which you caused harm, or allowed harm to occur when you had a responsibility to protect. You stood by, or actively participated, while we were sexually abused - yet you see yourself as good and loving. As we address the wrongs done to us, we need you to address this dichotomy within yourself. Our healing is tied up with your honesty.
In revealing our wounds, we may stir you towards compassion, retribution or repentence. If you let yourself feel those things, you expose your own brokenness. It takes enormous courage to be that vulnerable. Are you brave enough to face the darkness inside yourself?
Caroline Ansley, Christchurch
Letter to the editor, North & South