Stephen Fry Makes Insensitive Comments About Child Abuse Victims

April 12th 2016

Taylor Bell

British actor and comedian Stephen Fry is under fire following comments he made criticizing victims of child abuse for being too sensitive and suggesting that he had no sympathy for them, the Guardian reports.

In an interview with The Rubin Report, Fry was discussing his views about censorship and freedom of speech when he called out child abuse victims' tendency to ask for trigger warnings on different literature. Fry criticized them, saying that they needed to "grow up," and stop pitying themselves for their past experiences, the Independent reports.

“There are many great plays which contain rapes, and the word rape now is even considered a rape. If you say: ‘you can’t watch this play, you can’t watch Titus Andronicus, or you can’t read it in a Shakespeare class, or you can’t read Macbeth because it’s got children being killed in it, it might trigger something when you were young that upset you once, because uncle touched you in a nasty place’, well I’m sorry.

Although Fry acknowledged the irreparable damage that child abuse victims often face, Fry told the Rubin Report that he fully empathizes with them.

“It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place, you get some of my sympathy, but your self-pity gets none of my sympathy because self-pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity.

He continued.

“Get rid of it, because no one’s going to like you if you feel sorry for yourself. The irony is we’ll feel sorry for you, if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Just grow up.”

As a result many people were outraged, accusing the comedian of trivializing the painful experiences of abuse victims.

Fry's mental health charity, Mind, criticized his comments and vowed to address the matter with him, according to a press release from the organization:

"Abuse is incredibly serious and can have devastating consequences for survivors, particularly for their life-long mental health. We would urge anyone who has experienced abuse of any kind to reach out and seek support.

"As President of Mind, Stephen Fry has done a huge amount to raise awareness and understanding about bipolar disorder and other mental health problems. He has supported Mind in our campaigning activities over the last decade and has helped enormously to change public attitudes in the UK about mental health for the better. We will be speaking to Stephen to discuss the concerns our supporters have raised."

In the U.S., 28.3 percent of children suffer from physical abuse and 20.7 percent of children suffer from sexual abuse, according to the National Child Abuse Hotline. The effects of abuse can leave permanent scars both physically and psychologically. According to Child Welfare Information, children who suffer physical abuse or sexual abuse are especially at risk for developing a personality disorder, depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders. A July 2013 study reported by the Child Welfare Information found that 54 percent of cases of depression and 58 percent of suicide attempts in women were linked backed to "adverse childhood experiences."

Fry is no stranger to backlash. Earlier this year, the comedian had to delete his Twitter account after his joke about costume designer Jenny Beavan as a "bag lady" received great backlash.