When I started this process and took those first steps into that Police Station, I am not sure what I expected, but I know that I never expected to still be doing this six years later! Six years is a really long time!
It is a long time to be doing anything but trying to go through a Police Investigation for this amount of time sucks.
I am not saying this to try and dissuade others from reporting, I am saying it because it is the truth. I won’t lie, the investigation process into Childhood Abuse sucks anyway, but having an investigation take more than double the usual time sucks even more!
Investigations into this sort of crime are so invasive and emotional. They take their toll on all involved but none more so than the victims of these crimes. For us, the entire investigation process is retraumatizing. It is like reliving the events that took place all over again. That is not an easy thing to deal with.
Imagine being frightened by something unexpectedly. I say frightened, I mean terrified. Imagine being terrified by something unexpectedly. Now imagine taking that feeling and boxing it up and locking it away in your mind somewhere to keep yourself safe from it. Finally, imagine that box being reopened repeatedly for nearly six years of your life. That is what my life has been like since starting this investigation.
I locked away everything that happened to me to keep myself safe from it, but I was never really safe from it and throughout this investigation, I have had to relive every single terrifying memory, feeling or emotion that I had ever locked away in that box.
The first day I walked into that Police Station, the box was reopened. Then every interview and every statement moving forward from that day was the box being opened again and again and again. Except now I had no control over it like I used to. Now, because reporting him to the police made what happened very real, my brain could no longer keep that box hidden away.
So began the nightmares and the terrors and the feeling that it was happening it to me all over again. I am so thankful every day that I have a partner who, instead of running the other way, literally held me through those terrors and helped me see that I was not back there in that scary place but was in fact safe in his arms. He helped me survive. Without him, I don’t think I could have made it through those. They felt so real. I let him see parts of me I had never shown anyone before, and he kept me safe the entire time. It wasn’t easy for him, at all, but he did it, without any hesitation and I will never ever be able to thank him or love him more for that. He will never truly know just how much that meant to me. Just how much he means to me.
For the first year of the investigation, I had no legal or therapeutic support whatsoever. No referrals, no nothing. I was failed. I was not told that I was entitled to any of this support, and I was not given advice on where to go or who to call. I felt utterly alone.
Thankfully, somehow, I found myself stumbling across Victim Support where I referred myself to and was allocated a support worker. They are not Therapists, but they do support and know bits about the legal systems and lots of other stuff. It took me a long time to trust her, but she has never left my side from that very first meeting. She was able to tell me about organisations to help me get therapy and find my ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Advisor). I am thankful for her in so many ways. She helped me slowly learn that I can begin to trust new people and showed me that people do want to help.
I am thankful for my therapist. For without her I would never have been able to cope with those interviews and statements and having to give all those horrible details, all my innermost secrets, over to the Police, to people who I did not know and did not trust. She made it easier because I knew that I could trust her, I could open that box around her and let her see what was inside, knowing that she would not judge me. I trust in her. I knew she would be able to help me work my way through that box and come out the other side. No matter how long it would take., she would share my box of pain and take some of it away. Slowly she would lighten my burden of carrying this alone.
My ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Advisor) is someone else who I could not do this journey without. She cannot know what is inside my box for legal reasons because she is the one who is allowed to sit beside me if this goes to court. But she helps me cope with the Police and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) and everything that goes along with it. She communicates with them when I can’t, she chases them when they forget that I need to be kept informed of things, she explains the information that the Police tell me in a much easier way for me to understand but most of all she gets how scary this all is! She never minimalizes my feelings. She never judges. She gets it. They all do.
Both my ISVA and my therapist were through an independent organisation, Rape Crisis (RCSAS), however my ISVA now works for Survivors Network, a similar organisation. I am thankful that these organisations exist, for my journey would be so much harder without my therapist and my ISVA. I am not sure I would have continued on this far without the support.
You see, the thing with a Police Investigation is, that once that box has been opened once, there is no closing it again, no matter how hard you try – believe me when I say I know! So, if you are considering reporting someone for what they have done to you, be sure that you are ready to deal with everything that comes with it.
While I believe that reporting is the right thing to do, an investigation opens everything back up that you have been trying to keep locked away since your childhood. You will need support. This is not something you will be able to do alone, no matter how strong you are. Believe me, I tried. But the memories that we have inside our boxes are too terrible for us to have to face alone and remember, if your case gets as far as going to a trial, you will then have to share your box with so many more people. People you do not know. People who you won’t want to know what is in your box. But these will be the most important people of all who must know about it.
So please. If you are thinking about reporting, please look into the support organisations and networks around your area wherever you are in the world. It is important to have support, especially if you have little or no family support like I had walking into this.
An investigation may not take as long as mine is taking, they are all different and everyone has different experiences, but you will still have your box locked up somewhere, just like I have mine.
It is a box of pain, a box of time and asking for help to process it doesn’t make you weak. That is something that took me a very long time to learn!
** Thanks for reading **
** Image courtesy of Google Images **