Sandra Brown : Where There is Evil

Book Review by Wanda Gibson

Where There Is Evil is different from most of the other autobiographical accounts of an abusive childhood inasmuch as it was written despite many family members’ protests to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’.

Sandra Brown is well known in Scotland for her work as a teacher and champion of abused children. Her father was a known serial sexual abuser and seducer of young girls. He had a history of being lecherous and seedy. His family protected him as many families do, because of the threat of shame and embarrassment.

When Sandra was eight years old, a twelve year old neighbour, Moira Anderson disappeared never to be seen again. At a family funeral many years later, her father implied that he had some involvement with this child and thus began Sandra’s quest. When her book was first published in 1996, she was ostracised by a large percentage of her family and her father’s family. She received death threats and was stalked by step-brothers who supported their now elderly and frail father.

More information came to light and in the midst of this Sandra visited her father in the hope that a death bed confession would free him for the journey his soul would take. He refuted any involvement in Moira Anderson’s death. It was only when another ex-colleague of his decided to make a death-bed confession that the enormity of the crime was revealed. That man was Jim Gallogley who was serving a term of imprisonment for child abuse. He stated that three men had systematically abused Moira Anderson on the night she disappeared after using chloroform to keep her quiet. He made it clear that her father was involved and probably was the one to kill her. More investigation implicated these men with Fred and Rose West in a huge paedophile ring where organised child abuse was carried out on an international scale.

There is no happy, tidy ending even at the end of the reprinted book. Moira Anderson’s body has still not been found and no one is any the wiser where she could possibly be. The only really clear aspect of this is the statement that evil really does exist in individuals such as her father. Sandra Brown is very clear, however, that she firmly believes her father was one of the people who murdered Moira and possibly other children not necessarily associated with him.

Sandra Brown’s style is matter of fact and at times frustratingly pedantic. One cannot imagine the horror of knowing that she was this man’s offspring, and it is clear at times that she was very concerned that she had not inherited any behavioural traits. She and her immediate family suffered in many ways once she decided that she could not keep quiet about what her father had probably done. At the core of this is the recognition that a family is still in pain because they cannot lay their child to rest. The death of any child is horrendous and unnatural; the disappearance of a child is a life sentence of wishing and hoping and praying that they may be found.

This is an interesting book. There is an undercurrent of righteous anger, but no preaching. It is worth having as a voice of reason amongst some of the more angst-ridden publications on this subject.

Brown, S., Where There Is Evil
Pan, Revised edition (2006)
ISBN 0-330-44871-4

5 thoughts on “Sandra Brown : Where There is Evil”

  1. Hi Sandra I just want to say I admire your courage and strength in what you do & indeed have done, I have just read your book “Where there was evil” I am so very sad Moira has not been laid to rest & pray someday she will.

    I am 55 years old & 2nd of 6 children and recently discovered that my younger brother & cousin were sexually abused by my Mums two younger stepbrothers,
    when our brother told us we were so angry & hurt, when ask ask why he left it so long to tell.he said shame & fear of what our Dad would have done if he knew & don’y want our Mum to he kept stum for 37 years.
    the other so called uncle we believe is still alive and living in Yorkshire somewhere and is a man of the church apparently! he had no children thank God but was married.he would be about 67 to 70ish now..That is all I can say right now as it is still sore and I need time to think…so all the best Sandra & take care of you and yours regards Josie Cooper

  2. Hi Sandra

    Everything you have written about in where there is evil I can relate to having been sexually abused by my stepfather from the age of 9 to 12 when I was put into a childrens home because my mother who has now passed away had a choice who she wanted and she choose my stepfather which I never forgave her for and never will what kind of mother rejects her own child?
    Maybe she thought she was doing me a favour as I went to very good foster parents who had 2 adopted children and we are all very much a family but why have 3 children by him which are all girls I might add but he has never laid a finger on his children so why me, there are alot of questions which will remain unanswered.

    I do hope that they eventuall find Moira’s remains so her family can have some closure and I wish you and yours well for the future and please keep up the good work you are doing as people like me of today need you, at the time it happened to me (1965) there was no help or anything like there is today and I have done alright for myself, I count my lucky stars and from the documentories I have seen on abuse are so screwed up that they have gone over the top with the therapy but thats just my view having come out of it a ok, oh don’t get me wrong I have had my ups and downs in my life but I look at it that’s life and I have learnt along the way to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again this isn’t coming out as I mean it to but I think you will get the jist of what I am trying to say.



  3. Your book is very similar to a book I’ve been trying to write for 4 years. My father abused me from very early childhood. Worse, when I was 35, he confessed to having just murdered my mother. I saw her body, and the evidence that he’d smothered her, but was too shell-shocked to say anything. 4 years later, he confessed to me that he’d just murdered his new partner’s grown up daughter. This time, I attended the inquest and, again, the evidence backed up what he’d said. Again, I was too stunned to speak out. Now I want to prove what he did, but he’s dead.
    Sue F.

  4. Hi Sandra

    A must read for anyone who has experienced sexual abuse as a child, I related to so much of the book having experienced sexual abuse from the age of 3 – 15 but have never told anyone. The book puts into perspective my overprotective nature towards my own children and answers a few questions for me.

    I cannot imagine the courage it must of took to make that decision to inform the police about your father, I dont know if I could have found that strenght if put in the same position, but I certainly admire your choice.

    Thank you for writting such an excellent book.

  5. Dear Sandra,

    I just read your book, most of it in one night, crying a lot. Thank you very much for your courage.

    I have also had to denounce members of my family, after my grand-father abused me and after other abuse in the family ; I also did it many years after it all happened, in my early 30’s.

    When I was 20 I first denounced a teacher who had abused me (no physical violence but psychological violence and total sexual abuse) when I was 16 ; that man went shortly to jail and was condemned, had to stop teaching… That condemnation helped me heal and stop guilty feelings that are so common but so misplaced in such circumstances.

    Later when I denounced my own grand-father and my parents for what they had done, saying I was worried about my nephews as well, most of the family hated me ; my sister has refused to see me for years, I hardly know my nephews, but I have been firm. I had to tell my parents that no, I have not damaged the family, on the contrary, I was the only one who had the courage to break the silence, and it was the best thing I could do to protect my nephews and to go on healing.

    One of my aunts is a psychologist and supposed to be a very good one, but she did not say a word after receiving my letters of denounciations to the authorities. I met her last year by coincidence and she told me about her difficulties to find a new appartment, nothing about what I had written and said about the family!!

    Your book made me feel less alone in all this, I thank you very much. It clearly shows how hypocrisy and fear make supposedly loving parents and family members become cowards and choose passivity instead of behaving like lions to defend their children.

    One thing I have found is that usually people like your father, like my grand-father etc. were themselves raped, abused, “seduced” by (had sexual intercourse with) one of their parents. Incest at a young age ruins the person’s mental health and creates of compulsion of repetition of the trauma.

    I have known very well a man whose characteristics, though not as intense and extreme as your father’s, were similar. These people are so damaged that they cannot help abusing others. In rare cases they may heal if they get the help they need, but that is not common…

    People like Dominique Strauss-Kahn (ex WMF director who was accused of rape by several women) have also most probably been victims of incest before becoming abusers. Abused women tend to remain victims (and to be unable to protect their children, while also abusing them in some ways), while abused men tend to become violent abusers.

    As a tool to end that cycle of repetitions, EMDR is an amazing technique, that was developped by psychiatrists who had specilized in hypnosis. What you describe, Sandra, about your therapy with hypnosis is very similar to things I did, and EMDR was especially made for victims of trauma, it is exceptionnally efficient…

    Thank you so much for writing your book,

    all the best to you and your family,



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