Not guilty verdict for a clearly guilty man
Having used all remaining reserves to get through my child's birthday, Christmas and New Year, I am left feeling quite angry, in shock and within that a very real sense of despair.
35 years ago I was sexually abused by 2 men; one a relative by marriage, the other a boyfriend of my mother. Apparently these men were not known to each other but these incidents happened around the same time frame and I've always wondered. The abuse with the boyfriend found me alone whilst the other I experienced along with my cousin who was a few years younger than me. Over the years, I disclosed when I was a child to a close family friend and later at 22yrs to my doctor. I have also told various family, friends and professional councillor along the way I guess to be heard and seen.
Fast forward to 2008 and one of my perpetrators (within the family) had regular access to a young girl. I felt sick and concerned but in reality, was prioritising myself and my life to act on this. My cousin really wanted to peruse this with the police but I resisted as was reluctant to face this person in court and unravel our nightmare to the rest of our family. Lots of deliberations along the way but eventually, my cousin went to the police and I guess after a certain amount of guilt that something may be happening to another child, I agreed to go to the police and give a statement as a witness to my cousin. Of course, give the nature of my statement, I was told that I would be seen as a second victim. Please note, although description of a cousin implies a closeness, a unity, we are and have been estranged for many years, I believe due to the stress of our shared experiences.
Having the last 5 years of my life consumed with the court case and anxieties associated with this, much of my 'head-space' has been to think of the wider circle of people that this has had an impact with. I would worry about my families safety, my safety, my wider families distress, his families devastation, the child who this was all in the hope of protecting. I even bothered myself with the fact hat this person who harmed me, may have been vulnerable himself at one point and when sentenced, he would have a 'bad time' inside and would that really help with his perverse tendencies?
Last month, finally we get to court. I had a strong list of witnesses including the GP that I disclosed to and his original records. The whole court process was horrendous including the first day of the trial press report stating that he case would be about, 'whether these women were lying or not'. But that's just one of many detrimental examples of not only how the case was reported but how as witnesses/victims/people we were treated during the actual trial. The Defence was from the word go offered the better hand at no point was it easy to get the truth in the focus. A friend had said, "the truth of what happened to you is permanently written over your face-the jury will see this". This suggestion gave me a belief in the system and strength to stand in my truth and face the questioning.
My aunt, his wife, took the stand in court on the second to last day. She had told us that he had admitted the crime to her years earlier so we assumed she was taking the stand in our favour. Wrong. She lied from start to finish and amongst other lies, denied that there was ever any such conversation either with him or us. When the attacker took the stand, he too lied about events and contact so much so that I had to double-check with other family members if certain events in recent years had or hadn't happened, such is the confusion that I was left with after 8 days of trial. All that was confirmed was that he too was an accomplished liar.
There was only my aunts testimony and his that contradicted 6 other independent witnesses versions and yes you know what's coming, a not-guilty verdict. Totally devastated and in shock that not only does truth seem to mean nothing in a court of law but that during the process, I had a Prosecution team whom I'd never met prior to the trial and actually did not attempt to cross-examine the defence in an appropriate, effective manner or an investigating unit who did not gather evidence required to secure a guilty verdict was reached. I accepted character assassinations via the press and within court as a means to what I thought would be an end but now, left quite raw and with a need to speak out and fight. This is quite ironic considering I was labelled 'the most reluctant witness' in the beginning of this legal mess.
So now what? Where do I go? Who do I speak to? How to I let the people know who made the (wrong) decisions that a very guilty man is revelling in his not-guilty verdict whilst I (and my cousin assuming her and her family are going through similar feelings) are left with a huge sense of injustice, anger and sorrow. I know where to go for emotional support but this is not what I need. I need a voice and to be heard even more than going through the abuse as a child, resulting in this nasty chapter having some sort of purpose.
Thanks for listening and well wishes to you.