‘In the public interest.’ Victims deserve public interest too.
‘In the Public Interest’
How can I articulate the revulsion of not being able to communicate the trauma he caused me? I am Alice in Wonderland where nothing makes sense and the world around me is a different film where everyone else understands the plot, they have control over their character, they are safe, they are not bullied and can interpret reality. Every key I try to unlock myself doesn’t fit and my cries for help are muted.
With great trepidation I walked through the doorway of CRASAC. Now aged forty-three I had the collywobbles, feeling childlike telling on my first boyfriend, in that, well, he should not have been my first boyfriend. He was in fact a pillar of society, a trusted professional.
It was such a relief to be heard, believed and assisted not just for my own protection but sharing the burden of preventing him abusing other children. I have no doubt he had not changed, he had confirmed so in a phone call. From that, six and a half hours of Police interviews were recorded. I stammered, grieving with realisations of the long term implications of what he did. A thorough ‘Officer in Charge’ typed every word, collected statements and evidence to validate my existence. It was a turning point in my life. I was blessed to have the most dynamic ‘Independent Sexual Violence Adviser’ (I.S.V.A.) her much needed holistic support, strategies for coping, attending a myriad of meetings and guiding me through the legal justice system was priceless. She is the first secure attachment I have experienced in my life.
Finances were truly strained a year on so I embarked on my phased return to work; trust me a shower was exhausting! My ‘Support Plan’ was of no interest to my new Manager, she rocked my world with constant changes, topped with an informal disciplinary due to her unqualified naivety was pure genius. My unconscious mind lacked empathy for this transition providing continued panic attacks, flashbacks, memories and nightmares. My daughter would get phone calls from me while struggling through her first and second year of University; unconditionally supporting me – her Mum – through a morning, an hour or five minutes while I desperately tried not to give up on life.
After thirty years the irony is that it was the Crown that silenced me.
I was forbidden to talk about the six and a half years of child sexual violence; apparently ‘it would not be fair and be seen as coaching for court.’ No talking is permitted to the ‘Officer in Charge’ ‘I.S.V.A.’ or a counsellor about what he did. Just an eighteen month wait to be grilled by Defence lawyers and a Prosecution lawyer - everything she thinks she knows, she has heard third hand, not a word directly from me. Judgement day arrives, no finances available to support the victim – sorry ‘witness’ I am a witness of the crime - so I am reliant again on the ‘Officer in Charge’ to get me to court on time; as if she hasn’t enough to do. Permitted ‘special measures’ which include a ‘safe house’ (no security, just a propped open door with a traffic cone due to the damp) access to court via a maze of corridors whilst being escorted by a Witness Support Team representative and while in court a curtain was drawn so I cannot be seen by the perpetrator and general public.
I meet the Prosecuting Barrister for the first time, literally minutes before I go into court. She explains the video evidence didn’t make a lot of sense so she is going to question me, again, chronologically … so if talking dirty degrading child abuse to poker face detectives wasn’t traumatic enough the first time, I get to relive the trauma the second time in court with poker faced jury and professionals dressed in wigs and cloaks with the general public in the gallery. But, it is about keeping other members of the public safe so focus!
I was asked, in depth, to explain the first rape in his marital bed. The Defence Barrister snorted “After such a fantastic experience, why didn’t you tell?” This guy regularly left me speechless; increasingly I was losing faith in humanity and the general public well-being. He had not a care in the world I was reliving trauma. I contemplate if he would have asked a child that had been shot countless times over a six and a half year period “Bet you loved that, did you high five the hitman?” This went on for three exhausting days. I was walked into court while the general public was still present - apologies given; walked into the room where the perpetrator was hiding - apologies given. Justice system? Hmmm. The perpetrator has all the rights, it is NOT victim focused and I was a sitting duck.
Those eighteen months I pill crunched (under my empathic doctor’s supervision) Citalopram for depression, Diazapam for anxiety, even sleeping tablets to give the unconscious brain a rest from torment. Physical pain centres trouble me until I can ‘talk’.
Unsurprisingly in the circumstances I managed to set my home on fire!
Workplaces aren’t too clever with abused staff, their vulnerability makes a good sport. Historical abuse is in the present moment, never feeling safe in my own skin with a conflicting and confusing outlook on everyday moments. In reality, of the eight on my CRASAC Life Skills course, three were taken to court and mine was the third found not guilty.
All this in the name of ‘Public Interest’ Did you hear my story to help you understand that children in your communities were at threat? Did it improve your welfare and well-being? Or is the Criminal Justice system set up to fail any protection from paedophiles in our communities, community pillars or not?
'Victims deserve public interest too'
CRASAC support women, men & children from 5 years old who have experienced sexual violence or abuse.
If you would like to talk to us please call our Helpline on 02476 277777, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or text us on 07936 816 130Download this post as PDF? Click here