ACC – what a tangled web

Today, two articles were published by the Sunday Star Times which highlight a troubling aspect regarding the recent changes in ACC guidelines (or clinical pathway)… ACC advisor silent on links to sex abusers (29 August, 2010), and Conflicting interests?

Reading these articles has left me with questions…

  • How much influence have the ideologies of Bert Potter (a convicted pedophile), indirectly had on ACC Sensitive Claims Unit policies?
  • If ACC commissioned research directly from Felicity Goodyear-Smith, why?  What was the motivation, considering her stance and ideologies were well known at the time of the later studies.
  • Why did ACC commission research from a GP, rather than psychologists, psychiatrists or clinical psychologists?
  • Why did ACC commission research from a person who was a founding member of a group dedicated to defending those accused of sexual crimes (Casualities of Sexual Allegations – COSA), and who has been used as an expert witness defending the accused?
  • Why did ACC commission research from someone who could later argue “that gonorrhoea in pre-pubescent children was not necessarily an indicator of sexual abuse”? (see Conflicting interests? and What is the evidence for non-sexual transmission of gonorrhoea in children after the neonatal period? A systematic review)
  • My knowledge of the tertiary sector, would indicate that the research was directly commissioned.  However, if ACC commissioned the research from The University of Auckland, and they assigned the research to her… why was it assigned to her and why did ACC commission more research without any provisos that she not be involved in further research associated with sexual abuse?
  • In the research where Ethic Committee approval was needed, what was disclosed about any conflicts of interest regarding the study?  Not only of the main researcher, but also other people involved in the study.

But, the most important question…

What is ACC going to do with this information?

One step was the appointment of the review panel, who are looking at the changes in policy and their impact on claimants… but this was instigated by a Dr Nick Smith under pressure from the opposing political party and public pressure in the form of survivor rallies and news stories about the suicide of women refused ACC funded counselling (see Denied help for sexual abuse, dead days later).

It also seems hard to believe that ACC didn’t know the type of research, or outcomes that would be produced, when the book First do no harm: The sex abuse industry, was published in 1993.  So the ideologies were well known before the 2003 and 2005 ACC research was commissioned.  So, may be the more appropriate question is…

What is ACC going to do, now that this information is public?

On a personal note… One of the arguments put forth by Felicity Goodyear-Smith, is that children seek out sexual contact with adults as part of a consensual act.  I find this the greatest insult.  I initiated sexual contact with adults, I know this and carry the shame and confusion as a result.  But, well before I did this, I had been forced into sexual situations which were beyond my ability to cope or understand them.  I was abused.  I was used.  I was stripped of my humanity and treated as a plaything.  I was so sexualised by the time that I initiated the contact, that I didn’t know what the appropriate sexual boundaries were.  I thought that it was “normal” to play those games.  I also found that it was over more quickly if you acted a certain way.  It hurt less.  It was also one way to get a sense of power, in an otherwise powerless situation.  So one statement, treated as generalised fact, can hide a huge range of issues and problems.  There are no simple answers when it comes to child sexual abuse… well, there’s one simple answer – it’s wrong… morally, ethically and legally wrong.

I’d like to thank Tim Hume, Barrie Leslie and Kyle MacDonald for speaking out.  I know there are others, not named in the articles who contributed, so would like to thank them as well…

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Now playing: The Feelers – Stand Up
via FoxyTunes

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26 thoughts on “ACC – what a tangled web

  1. ACC continues to appear very dysfunctional, and that’s being nice.

    I am sorry you were so hurt. But it’s good to hear you acknowledge that. That’s very important. And I think it’s tied to all the effort you’ve been putting in lately.

    • Hi Paul,

      That’s one of the most diplomatic sentences I’ve ever seen you write 🙂

      That last paragraph was difficult to write… it was interesting, in that Frank was very up front and centre at the beginning, but then he was controlled by Ellie and she wrote it. It’s the first time I’m aware of her writing in the blog… I wouldn’t be able to write that, but she is.

      One step at a time…

      Take care,
      CG

  2. oh my goodness. what a disgusting piece of news. thank you for posting these articles. i had no idea!
    that woman should never be involved in sensitive claim issues. unbelievable. she is responsible for deaths that her policies have caused. how dare she.
    and of course it is easier to initiate and get it over with – that and it becomes the “role” of who-ever it is who needs to enjoy the attention. i am so angry. i feel like exploding.

    • Hi Grace,

      It’s scary, really scary.

      I don’t think anyone will be held accountable for those deaths. I wish they were, but I don’t think it will happen.

      I agree. It became the role of some of the dissociative system to enjoy the attention and seek the abuse. That’s why generalisations are so dangerous.

      Please take care,
      CG

  3. from the second article :
    quote Regarding the Centrepoint abuse, she agrees the complainants’ “early sexualisation and parental encouragement to be sexually active was inappropriate”, but saves most of her scorn for the “subsequent counselling and legal intervention… [which] may have contributed to their seeing themselves as permanently harmed from their childhood sexual experimentation”.unquote

    well i was permanently harmed from the moment it started. i never needed a doctor to tell me that it made me crazy. how dare she say such things.

    • Hi Grace,

      It’s her ideologies which lead to those statements. Personally, I’ve found the ACC more destructive than anything a therapist has ever done. That’s even with me having the “advantage” of a DSM diagnosis…

      The abuse changed my character from being an outgoing and inquisitive toddler, to being described as withdrawn and quiet in my school reports. That was well before I saw any therapist.

      Just as she says that the therapists have an agenda, so does she…

      Take care,
      CG

  4. Wow. I hope you share what you find about all this, like, what are they researching all those people for? They don’t even know reality – their medical (physical) not mental or emotional experts.

    • Hi Ivory 🙂

      I’m really hoping that other news organisations pick up on the story that Tim Hume has started and take it further. It would be good to have the questions I thought of answered, and I know that others will think of more.

      This is a huge can of worms which could/should alter the way ACC operate, if investigated correctly.

      That’s exactly the problem I have with Felicity Goodyear-Smith being used as a researcher and expert witness… as far as I’ve found, she has no psychological training. She’s a GP who showed an interest in sexual abuse, so went onto becoming a researcher at one of the top universities in New Zealand.

      It was good to hear from you 🙂
      Take care,
      CG

  5. I think ACC will come out in the next day or so and say they commissioned Auckland Medical School to do the research and not Goodyear-Smith directly. They will try to shake this off as Auckland Medical Schools problem now. But considering all the “forgetting” ACC has done in the past and then they “remember” again when presented with the evidence it is not surprising that they will again try to a hop, skip and jump.

    Having the Potters involved in anyway with ACC sensitive claims, even if it’s just researching in the area in SICK! Where is the justice in that? One can only assume Auckland Medical School share her ideologies if they didn’t see a conflict of interest in her doing the research. I really hope that the adults from the Massey Second-generation report feel supported enough to come forward now and press charges as a lot feel justice still hasn’t been served on many “Professionals” that are still in high positions.

    http://www.publictrust.co.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/42222/FINAL-Centrepoint-Report-for-Release-31.03.10.pdf

    Below also is the Centrepoint Community doco from Nigel Latta which has all the background if people have forgotton about what went down there. *Documentary may trigger*

    http://tvnz.co.nz/search/ta_ent_search_news_skin.xhtml?q=Nigel+Latta&sort=date%3AD%3AS%3Ad1&start=10

    • Hi Lisa,

      I agree, ACC will try to shift the blame onto someone. But they can’t get around the fact that they kept going back to the School or Goodyear-Smith for further research. If they saw a problem, or conflict or interest with her research, then they could have stipulated that she not be involved in further research… they didn’t. That implies consent was given for her to do the research.

      Based on my experience of the tertiary sector, research is applied for and granted to the individual based on the skill set they offer, the time-frame they can do the research in, and the costs involved. Again, this would indicate that ACC knew full well who was going to be doing the research.

      I’m curious as to what Auckland Medical School makes of all of this. Their silence would again indicate that they are in agreement with her ideologies… Would like to be proven wrong on that!

      I hope the Centrepoint second generation come forward. The Massey research indicates there are many issues that they can pursue if they wanted to.

      That documentary from Nigel Latta was brilliant (and sickening). My heart went out to the children interviewed and seen at Centrepoint… and that one girl that Hillary described as seeking out someone to abuse her… There is no way that her request didn’t come from a history of abuse and sexualisation.

      It’s a shame that the documentary is only available for those in New Zealand… Would make interesting viewing for the wider research community that Goodyear-Smith is part of.

      As a warning though… the documentary is triggering, well I found it to be so.

      Take care,
      CG

      • @ Grace…. yes I’m in NZ.

        @ CG… sorry I forgot to warn people that the doco may trigger. For me it triggered rage mainly but did also have me feeling physically sick and have me ruminating a lot about many other things also.

        Yes I find it hard to believe ACC didn’t know or didn’t directly commission FGS to do the research through Auckland Medical School. However, the Medical School usually say NOTHING and just wait for the dust to settle, then continue on as normal. So, it is unlikey for you to hear anything about this from them.

    • I wonder if they’re waiting for a response from Goodyear-Smith, ACC or the Auckland Medical School? I hope the story is picked up by other media though… it needs to be taken further.

  6. If a child initiates sexual contact with an adult it ABSOLUTELY shows that the child has been harmed before. If an adult accepts that sexual advance it ABSOLUTELY is a crime. An adult knows that sex with a child is wrong and illegal and should 100% of the time say no and maybe even report that the child might need help. For ANY adult to accept sexual advances from a child it shows that the adult has issues. Adults are in a position of authority at all times and they are at all times to remember that they are the adult and should always lead properly and safely. A child who initiates contact is still a child, still an innocent child in need of protection, including from him or herself. Sexual contact with a minor is always wrong and is always the fault of the adult, always, always, always no matter that child’s history it is always the fault of the adult….always.

  7. BTW –
    I use to think if I “did it right the first time” she wouldn’t come back, she’d leave me alone. It was easier for me to just get it right, be what she wanted right then and there and skip over the beating and harsh words. The self loathing from that defies reason.

    • It was self-preservation Austin. Nothing more, nothing less.

      I did it as well… I’d play the role I thought they wanted, to please them and get it over with. It was all about minimising the harm and getting through the moment. Surviving meant adapting and learning what would do the least amount of harm, we here now because we did that.

      At times I can see it for the survival mechanism that it was. At times I shrivel up and hate myself for it.

      Take care,
      CG

  8. hi castor, i’m glad to hear your assessment is overwith and see that you are writing about it and this. i’m sorry you have to wait awhile to know the results of the assemssment and that you needed to go through that at all. but it sounds like a good sign that the assessor understood DID. as for this post, it’s so horrible that people are taken seriously who believe and state such offensive and dangerously misleading things like this woman. i always knew, but was so glad when i also received training at the domestic violence shelter that there is no such thing as a “sexual child” – that that is a child who’s already been abused. i agree with austin above.

    my hope is that one day, hopefully not in a distant future, we’ll instead be hearing about research done to explain how such terrible arguments (like that children are the ones responsible for their own abuse) were ever taken seriously at all in our society.

    thank you for writing and being so brave and such a great advocate.

    wishing you peace and serenity today and every day~

    • Hi katie,

      Thank you 🙂

      I hope there is such a shift in thinking. I fear it will take a radical shift before it occurs. May be the research is the first step in that shift?

      Take care,
      CG

  9. Pingback: Reminders and unexpected consequences | Scattered pieces

  10. It upsets and worries me that F G/Smith has been retained by ACC. Who would take on such a woman within ACC and within Uni of Auckland for that matter. Where are those people coming from …..

    • Hi Jan,

      You’re not alone in your concerns. Subsequent to these articles, there was another article by Tim Hume – Sex abuse cuts ‘all about cost-cutting’, which indicates that ACC did know of the potential conflicts of interest regarding Goodyear-Smith, but commissioned her for the research anyway. Then, earlier this week, the Independent Review Panel established to look into the ACC SCU changes returned their report. The report is highly critical of the changes to ACC SCU policy and has made many recommendations.

      I hope the changes are implemented within the spirit they are intended, and FGS no longer involved in anything to do with ACC SCU. University of Auckland has remained quiet on the subject.

      Take care,
      CG

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