Wigtown Book Festival Scotland
Interview with Esther W
“If Only I Had Told”
In the McNeillie Tent
Sunday 6th October 2013
Time: 13:30


In February 1991, a media frenzy erupted when nine children were taken into care following supposed reports of satanic sexual abuse in Orkney. The allegations were false. But the harm they caused was Talking to Ann Brownvery real. Esther W, who as a teenager was caught up in the terrible events, discusses her brave and honest memoir. 
 She talks to journalist Anne Brown,who covered the story at the time.
Esther & Ann

Esther & Ann

Some of Esther’s thoughts before travelling to The Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland.

‘Why Did I write If Only I Had Told?’

For my son.  I was struggling with being a mother.  I didn’t have a clue.  Then as I wrote it, I pieced it all together, started letting myself remember I was shocked to realise that one seemingly little change in my life had led to such catastrophic events in so many other people’s lives.  There had been other books written, documentaries made, articles written, but none of them told the truth – but then how could they?  They didn’t know it.  My family and I were always painted as the baddies and it had always hurt me deeply.

1) My dad was jailed in 1987 for the abuse of my siblings and I for many years. Weapons, metal caps on boots, whippings, nettling and various other torturous devices like sleep deprivation, punishment for eating, for going to the toilet, the most basic human needs were punishable.  Sexually abused the girls. 



Esther Signing her books

2)  I

was placed in a children’s home. I really believed with all my childish heart that this was the beginning of my wonderful life.  I was full of hope and genuinely believed in adults at this point.


Esther and Jenny

3) Adrian Batty started sexually attacking and abusing me.

4) I told a friend and then attempted suicide.

5) When I came round I just couldn’t reveal who it was that had sexually attacked me.  Social Workers assumed it was my brothers.  One minor change in my life, that of being abused by someone else that I believed in led to catastrophic effects for many others, my family included.

6) All my seven younger siblings taken into care.

Very unfortunate circumstances, Liz Maclean was obsessed with sexual, satanic ritual abuse.  Through leading questions and repeated coaching and interrogation she got what she was looking for.  My siblings were accused of alleging that four other neighbouring families were satanic sexual abusers, including the local minister!

Wigtown Book Festival Making new friends

Esther and Judy

7) Why Didn’t I Tell?

The difficulty with answering such a question is I would only be answering through the judgemental eyes of an adult with worldly experience of right and wrong.  I had been brought up to keep secrets my whole life.  Then when I couldn’t tell I was a terrified abused girl whose father had recently been jailed and I was in a home with adults I thought were saving me.  There were no adults in my life I could trust, I didn’t believe in anyone, aside from that I always believed everything he was doing to me was my fault – a perfect pattern after my father. 

8) At first I wasn’t going to have it published.  I spent my whole life feeling deeply ashamed for not being normal.  I believed I made bad things happen.  But once I’d written it all down and I read it I felt immense pride in myself that I had been through that and survived.  Not only that, I was trying to be the best I could be. 


Esther signing her books

9) Survivor Mum; There was no information out there for how to survive abuse and be a mother.  For the worst of people in society, the vulnerable one’s who need it most, there is no help.  Help in just how to not replicate what you have been taught.  There is no support system to attempt to make sure that they don’t go on and continue the chain of abuse.  It is as if just removing children from the bad situation they have done their job, but those children need help.  Counselling with how to be a better person, how to heal from the wounds of their abusers so they can go on and become better adults.  The government and society in general does not put enough emphasis on this.   

Until you educate parents not to abuse their children and teach them how to parent properly there will always be child abuse.          

My siblings; they are doing the best they can.  I am in contact with a couple of them and I’m incredibly proud of their achievements. 

2 Responses to Wigtown Book Festival Scotland

  • Moira says:

    I wish they wouldn’t say ‘ the girl who could have stopped the Orkney Scandal’. It puts the responsibility and onus on the bewildered,hurt child instead of the abusers and social services cock ups. I hope it hasn’t put more guilt on you.

    Its true that kids need more help and to not repeat the abuse as they can repeat the cycle. More out of ignorance and taught behaviour than maliciousness.

    I admire your strength. I had emotional abuse and not come through it. So its amazing what you’ve achieved. You always think of the Scottish Isles as being close people who look after their kith and kin well.


    Esther, have just read your book, and wish you, David and your two sons good health and lots of happiness for the rest of your future together –

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