Politician puts brave face on abuse

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The vice-mayor of Oslo has put what many are calling a brave new face on young victims of sexual abuse after going public with her own experience of a ruined childhood. Libe Rieber-Mohn, a longtime politician for the Labour Party, said she hopes her revelations can encourage other young victims and “help them get help.”

Libe Rieber-Mohn, shown here campaigning in Oslo on behalf of women, has put what many call a brave face on the plight of young victims of sexual abuse after revealing that she was abused herself. PHOTO: Arbeiderpartiet

Libe Rieber-Mohn, shown here campaigning in Oslo on behalf of women, has put what many call a brave face on the plight of young victims of sexual abuse after revealing that she was abused herself. PHOTO: Arbeiderpartiet

Rieber-Mohn set off some political shockwaves when she told TV2 this week that she was raped repeatedly by her own stepfather when she was still a child.

“I was seven or eight years old the first time he raped me,” Rieber-Mohn told TV2. “We were staying at my grandmother’s house and slept in the same room. I had fallen asleep. I woke up with him lying on top of me, and raping me. I remember how terribly painful it was.”

Rieber-Mohn, a friend and political ally of former prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, said she finally chose to talk publicly about her experiences in the hopes it can help remove the guilt still felt by many victims of sexual abuse. “It is never, ever their fault,” Rieber-Mohn repeated to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on its national nightly newscast Dagsrevy on Monday. “It is solely the fault of the abuser.”

She said she never mentioned the abuse to her own mother as a child, believes that she was never aware of it, and said her stepfather died several years ago. “I still felt guilt, and that something was wrong with me,” she told TV2. “I felt like I wasn’t worth anything, and that no one cared about me.”

Rieber-Mohn, who grew up at Bogerud and Bøler on Oslo’s east side, also hopes her story can encourage young victims that life can still turn our well despite the agony of the abuse. She admits she fell into some years of alcohol and drug use, and sniffed glue, but she overcame them, went on to study sociology at the University of Oslo and got involved with the Labour Party. She is married to Rune Bjerke, the chairman of Norway’s biggest bank, DNB, who also is a Labour Party veteran and was Stoltenberg’s best man. The couple has two grown daughters.

The now-48-year-old politician has received broad bipartisan support from political colleagues, not least Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang of the Conservative Party, for her decision to go public with her troubled past. Stang and others called her “brave” and “bold” and they also hope her story may help others who have suffered abuse or incest.

Her revelations came as newspaper Aftenposten reported that eight out of 10 children questioned by legal experts in cases of sexual abuse don’t receive any offer of court.appointed medical help. That weakens childrens’ legal rights, argued the state ombud for children on Sunday, who also worries that not enough children are believed when they finally dare to reveal abuse.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund