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The Manchester News


What Drives Women Like Convicted Paedophile Carolyn Bromily to Hurt the Children They are Supposed to be Caring For?

The Manchester Evening News ( UK ) Page 10.

The Manchester News, UK, By ANDREW NOTT, Friday January 28, 2000

The discovery over the last decade that child abuse was endemic in care homes across England and Wales was a body blow to society. The idea that vulnerable youngsters were taken from perceived danger only to be placed in the hands of evil paedophiles was deeply shocking.

Several men are currently serving significant jail sentences and long- term police inquiries are continuing in Greater Manchester and across the country into hundreds of allegations.

The latest appalling case to come to light was that of a care worker who abused boys as young as 12 for 15 sordid years at a residential school in Cheshire. But this was more startling than any of its predecessors, for in this case the predatory paedophiles was a woman.

Carolyn Bromiley, 36, from Warrington, had sexual intercourse with boys from 1984 until her arrest last year.

That she got away with it for so long was due to two major factors. Firstly, for many reasons, the boys did not complain, and, secondly, her femininity meant she was never considered a suspect.

It is only during the last 10 to 12 years that the establishment has begun to seriously study the extent of female paedophilia, but the results of so-far limited research shows it is much more widespread than thought, suggesting women could be responsible for a quarter of all sex abuse involving under 16s. Some estimates are higher.

The majority of victims are the women's own children or close relatives. Abuse can begin when they are infants and continue into adulthood. Most abusers were themselves abused and many of their victims have admitted continuing the cycle with their own offspring as they move from abused to abuser in a horrifying sexual loop.

Other women like Bromiley, a residential care worker - target children who are not related to them, but to whom they have easy access. With hindsight, it is easy to understand why so much abuse happened in care homes. After all where else would a paedophiles intent on abuse look for employment?

Bromiley joined the staff of the school as a childcare assistant at the age of 19 and had soon seduced a 14 year old boy. A teenager herself, she may have considered the five-year age gap unremarkable and this alone may have sparked her behaviour. But if that is so, she is untypical of the female sex offender.

Clinical psychologist Jacqui Saradjian, based at West Yorkshire's High Royds Hospital, is a leading authority on the subject, and believes the seeds of such behaviour are usually sewn in the abuser's own early years. "There has usually been some form of abuse in their own childhood - sexual, physical or emotional, or all three," she explains.

"To minimise their own suffering - although their abuser, from within or outside the family, would perhaps be 25 years older than them they usually refer to the offence as 'a relationship'. They look back on it as if they were equal partners, and even describe the period of abuse as being 'in love'. They don't remember, being cuddled, held, physically comforted by anyone who did not also sexually abuse them."

Their childhood, says Dr Saradjian leaves them with poor self esteem and they feel they have little control over their lives. The subsequent acquisition of control and power over the children is therefore extremely important to them.

They have problems relating to other adults and their peers, identifying Read More the youngsters than their own age group.

In research, those who abuse adolescents specifically said they rarely felt they had been parented by anyone. As children themselves, they were the 'carer' in the family, the mother to the household. Their recollections of both mother and father were that they were poor parents for a variety of reasons.

With their perception of roles between adult and child already blurred they tended to idealise the youngsters they targeted, both as children and as sexual partners. This 'perfection' is primarily the construction of the offender, and can be projected onto another child when the predator moves on to a new target. The boys who Bromiley preyed upon were mostly youngsters with already troubled minds, and their experiences left them even more confused, damaged and disturbed.

Those abused particularly by women, feel guilty, depressed, coerced, manipulated and emasculated and are less capable of dealing with ordinary life.

Sex crime consultant Ray Wyre has found children, particularly those in care, can be instantly vulnerable to abusers of either sex. "You can buy a child for a packet of crisps if you know how," he said.

"The way to combat this is to have what we call an Aware Culture.

"It is vital for people to know what is going on in establishments and for constant checks and talks with children. Intensive gate keeping and interviewing of staff and, never leaving one member of staff alone in charge of children is also of prime importance.

"To protect our children who are in care, we need to think like the offender, and the guard."