An abuse survivor says they contemplated suicide after the new director of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team (NST) claimed he and his staff had been bullied and harassed by survivors.
In a paper ahead of General Synod in February, Alexander Kubeyinje, who took over the role six months ago, said he had been “taken aback with the amount of abuse, bullying and harassment that colleagues receive and threat to life on occasions.
"This has predominately been from a small number of survivors, advocates and others who have concerns with regards to safeguarding across the wider church community. The NST are at the forefront of this abuse which has a detrimental impact on them and their families.”
Posting on a blog called 'Surviving Church', the survivor said he hadn’t slept since reading the “cruel and cowardly" comments.
They said: "As a direct consequence of Alexander Kubeyinje’s report to General Synod I am finding myself not only wishing that I could be dead in order finally to be free of the horrendous bullying of his office and others responsible for church safeguarding, but for the first time actually contemplating taking my own life.
"I have come finally to the stage where I have truly had enough and can take no more from the Church of England and its increasingly sadistic victimisation of those that it has abused over and over again."
Speaking to Premier about the issue, Martin Sewell, who is a member of General Synod and a former child protection lawyer said: “I'm sure Alex [Kubeyinje] didn't mean to do that, he’s a good man and I have no doubt that he will be mortified to hear that.
"But I don't think he realises how close to the edge so many of our survivors are, having spent years and some of them decades, banging their heads against the brick wall of the Church of England.
"They are raging against the machine. If your life is falling apart, and you're threatened with homelessness, because you keep having breakdowns as a result of the abuse of the Church, and you go to the Church and you're not getting any answers, I'm not surprised. I don't condone, but I'm not surprised that people take it out on the person on the front desk.”
In a statement to Premier, Rt Rev Jonathan Gibbs, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop said: “The General Synod paper from the new national safeguarding director Alexander Kubeyinje is based on his personal experience and observations from his first few months in the role and highlights the unacceptable harassment of staff that he has witnessed.
"Alex is part of ongoing work at the National Church Institutions to ensure that proper support and processes are in place when such behaviour occurs, and his paper also acknowledges that the Church has not been a safe place for all.
"He fully recognises that the experience of trauma often underlies how people may respond and he is absolutely committed to strengthening the Church’s ongoing safeguarding work, including through better engagement with victims and survivors.”