New review of Longcare Survivors: The Biography of a Care Scandal, my book on the Longcare abuse scandal. Review is by Louise Wallis, the campaigns officer for the charity Respond, which works with people with learning difficulties who have been abused. The review has been reproduced by kind permission of Community Living magazine.
‘Longcare Survivors is a testament to the dedication and tenacity of the author – journalist John Pring – who has spent 17 years investigating the case. It also stands as a testament to the courage and forbearance of the survivors themselves, whose voices feature prominently in this brilliant book.
‘Their abuser, Gordon Rowe, a former mental health nurse turned charismatic conman, was able to establish three residential care homes, where for years he was able to rape, beat and sadistically humiliate countless people with learning disabilities with impunity.
‘As with the recent Winterbourne View case (a residential ‘care’ home in Bristol) the abuse only came to light thanks to the actions of a whistleblower. In the case of Longcare an anonymous person leaked a report by Buckinghamshire County Council to the Slough Observer.
‘One of the most inspiring and important aspects of this book is the way the author challenges the perception of people with learning disabilities as passive victims. He reminds us that “in many and varied ways, they resisted [Gordon Rowe’s] cruelty, they found ways to survive”.
Nevertheless, the effects of abuse can be long-lasting and, as Jim Mansell wrote in The Guardian in the wake of Winterbourne View, for people with learning disabilities “there is no quick fix”. For many of the Longcare survivors, the memories and effects of abuse remain raw, present and close to the surface.
‘But we can at least take some comfort from Dorothy Thomson, the true heroine of this story. “As soon as you get in an institution, you learn to hate and you have a dream to hold onto and my dream was that one day I would have a flat of my own and I would never marry a body-abled man. That dream has come true, because that is the main thing you have to hang onto to get through these traumas.”‘
To order a copy of the book, go to this page of the site.