Monday afternoon, I sit staring out the window, waiting for my sister in law to arrive. I told her she didn’t have to come today but she insisted I was not alone. She knows how hard today will be for me. Today I meet the Liaison Officer assigned to my case.
My case. That is never something I ever thought I would say but now I sit here awaiting the Police Officer who is going to guide me through the most difficult time in my life. I feel sick.
My sister in law arrives. She calms me down. Then she sees the officer arrive. I think I am going to throw up.
I walk to the door and I am so relieved to see she is a plain clothed officer. She shows me her ID and I let her in. I am grateful when she says my sister in law can stay with me while we talk.
The officer seems nice. She has a calming way about her. I don’t trust her, not yet, but she doesn’t seem as scary as I thought she would be. I relax a little.
She explains that now I have told them that I was abused, that she is here to help me through the whole process of giving evidence and possibly a trial. She says I won’t have to deal with anyone but her which puts my mind at rest as I know I will struggle telling one person, there is no way I could tell several.
She tells me all about the process and the next steps to be taken.
I have to be taken to a safe house to start to give my evidence and tell her what he did to me. When we are there I will be videoed so that all my evidence can be played in court if it were to go to trial. My stomach turns a little as I think about being videoed. I do not like that idea but I understand it has to be the case. She explains that it is so they can have all the details and see my emotion and body language.
I tell her I am worried that I won’t be able to talk straight away. I explain that I have never told anyone the bad things he did to me, not even my therapist yet. She puts my mind at rest by telling me not to worry. She says it will take me as long as it takes and that there is no pressure on me to tell her everything straight away. She says I can have my sister in law with me, but that this time she won’t be allowed in the room as I will be giving statements. Eurgh….my stomach is doing somersaults.
I tell her I am scared I might cry when giving my statements. She says that crying is OK and natural and that if I do then we will stop. I tell her I am scared I might self-harm. She says that if she starts to see me struggling then we will stop. She says she will look after me.
Can I trust her to help me? Will she protect me and help me tell my story? I have to trust her and I have to let her help me….a little bit at a time.
My legs start shaking as she starts to explain how, when they feel they have enough evidence, that they will arrest my abuser and interview him under caution. He will be released on bail with conditions not to contact me. Just hearing her say the words “he will be arrested” make me want to cry.
She asks my permission to access my medical records, which I give, and also to put a marker on my home and place of work, so that I can be kept safe. Again I agree. Anything that means he won’t be able to contact me.
She says the next step will be a hearing for him to plead guilty or not guilty. She explains that if he pleads not guilty, which will most likely be the case, it will go to court. I feel like I am going to pass out. Court?! I didn’t even think I would ever go to the police, how on earth am I going to manage standing in a courtroom with him?! She must be able to see the fear in my face as she explains that there is different ways to give evidence and that I will probably be allowed to stand behind a curtain. That is a bit better I guess…..but still terrifying.
There is no guarantee on the outcome. He could be found guilty or not guilty. My stomach turns. I could be going through this whole process for him to be found not guilty. I am not sure I could cope with that. However I know there is no going back now. I have no choice but to see this through and I know I am doing the right thing.
The whole process could take a year. A year!! That seems so far away and such a long time!! Then again I have been living with this for twenty years, what is one more?!
I have been fighting to survive since I was a child. My past is a hidden darkness that no one knows, my present is cloaked in secrets and my future…. Well that holds the truth.
I have another world inside of me that no one has ever seen. The secrets that I keep are so dark and so deep but time discovers truth and truth is truth, even if no one believes it.
I have a story to tell and whether I whisper it or I shout it, I won’t be silenced anymore. I have to speak for those who have no voice. I have to find the strength from somewhere to speak for my inner child. I have to finally find the courage to tell my secrets in the dark.
Becoming a victim was not a choice….. Becoming a survivor is.
I will get there….I will grow… just like a butterfly.
Thanks for reading.