Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

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.

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9 thoughts on “Not guilty verdict for a clearly guilty man

  • Hairbear says:

    I’m so sorry you went through this to end up with a not guilty verdict. I hope you can find the support you need, thank you for sharing your experience.
    I believe you.

  • Admin says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us – we believe you.

    The courts process is so difficult; and utterly frustrating when a ‘not guilty’ verdict is given, as so often happens in these cases.

    We’ve posted the piece out to our twitter followers, asking whether you have any options for complaining about the process itself, or reporting (anon, if necessary) under the Safeguarding laws in order to attempt to protect the young child in this case.

    We’ll keep you updated.

    Thank you & we believe you.

    Take care x

  • Judith says:

    I am angry for you. You have strength and courage. I believe you

  • Admin says:

    Hi Helena

    An organisation called Voice4Victims have offered support and advice – you can contact them via their website: http://www.voice4victims.co.uk/

    Clare (the founder) may be able to provide some specialist advice regarding the CJS process.

    We’ll keep you updated if we can find some info about taking action under Safeguarding legislation.

  • Heidi says:

    I can practically feel your pain as I read your story and am so sorry the system let you down. I hope you take some comfort in knowing you absolutely did the right thing. Who knows why your aunt lied. But I’d take a bet she’s watching him closely now. You may not have got the justice you so rightfully deserved but I feel sure you did your bit in at least making the people around him are more cautious. I truly hope that might be enough to protect the child you speak of. Much love. You did the right thing. We believe you x

  • Anne says:

    I understand your pain as I too was sexually abused and raped by a ‘family friend’ who was too found not guilty after a horrendous court case that seemed to be putting myself on trial rather than him. His wife also stood up and lied to the court claiming he was with her on the night in question and even called me a bitch in court. He also has two children. I was 14 when the abuse took place but 17 when the court case happened after keeping quite for two years and the justice system taking time as well. Now at 23 i still feel just as frustrated with it all. I know there are no words to make the pain go away but just know that you are not alone. I hope there is something we can do to be heard. I hope this somehow helps you , Im sorry that this injustice is still happening and will keep happening.

  • Julia says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience, and thank you also for going through the court process. I think you are so brave.

    An organization called Rights of Women may be able to offer you some help. As suggested above, going down the child safeguarding route may be successful.

    I’m so sorry you went through this. I have no doubt you are telling the truth and my thoughts are with you.

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  • kimberley says:

    I am soo glad I found this forum!! You woman are so brave, I was sexually abused by my best friends brother when I was 10 while she was in the bed, while it was happening I was pinching her for dear life but she never woke up, I told her once we got to school an she begged me to keep it a secret. 12 years later I told my family an went to the police, my court case was last week and to my horrific surprise the monster got a not guilty, I am only 23 an already I feel like my life is over