Kendall House Victim Speaks To Heart News
19 July 2016, 00:01
Teresa Cooper, who has waived her right to anonymity, says she was regularly drugged and sexually abused during the time she was at Kendall House and has been campaigning for years for the truth about what happened there to come to light.
Last week an independent review said the Church of England girls home was a "toxic and destructive'' environment, and revealed the scale of sexual abuse, ill-treatment and physical abuse at the site between 1967 and 1986.
It disclosed how girls as young as 11 were routinely, and often without medical assessment, given powerful anti-depressants, sedatives and anti-psychotic drugs.
Those that resisted, challenged or overcame the drugs' effects faced sanctions, including being locked alone in a room for days on end or emotionally abused.
Teresa told Heart she will never be able to get over what happened to her:
The review said: "The findings are harrowing. They reveal an institution which had weak governance and oversight, a place where control, containment and sometimes cruelty were normalised.
"A place where vulnerable girls, many previously and repeatedly let down by their parents, social services and other agencies, were caught in a regime that in many ways sought to rob them of their individuality, of hope, and in some cases of their liberty.''
It added: "The evidence we have heard and read during this review tells of a place which was, on the whole, toxic and constructive to the girls placed there.''
Drugs were administered in dosages which exceeded usual prescribed adult levels to control girls' behaviour, placing them in a constant stupor, and restricting their ability to communicate or learn, it added.
Launched last year by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev James Langstaff, the review found the effects of the abuse have led to many ''broken lives'' with some victims attempting suicide.
Girls were supervised by a largely unqualified workforce led by a "dominant and authoritarian'' figure, Doris Law, who is now dead.
The review recommends the dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury make payments to all ex-residents who took part in the review.
Opened in the 1920s, Kendall House was a home for vulnerable girls aged from 11 to 16 who were mainly placed there by their local authority. It closed in 1986.
Since 2006, pressure has mounted on the Church to examine the claims of abuse and mistreatment from former residents of the now-defunct home.
Then last year Mr Langstaff set up the review, chaired by Professor Sue Proctor, who led the inquiry into Jimmy Savile's reign of abuse at Leeds Teaching Hospitals.
Prof Proctor described the Church's initial response to allegations about Kendall House as "woeful'' and "inadequate". She said the administration of powerful drugs appeared to have an ''experimental approach``.
She described the commissioning of the review as overdue and for the vulnerable girls, Kendall House was a "frightening, violent and unpredictable'' place.
Mr Langstaff said the diocese "apologised unreservedly'' for the suffering caused.