This post is a follow-up of My Historical Abuse and My Decision To Report It. Wrote in 2012.
I write this now because it’s been over 2 years since the court trial ended. I have needed this time to accept it and try to find some closure. My life has moved on in leaps and bounds since I reported the historical abuse I suffered as a child. But here it is, about to be brought back to the front of my mind once again. I’ll start where I left off in my first post, after I had reported this crime to the Police..
Within the first eight months after the report, I had been interviewed several times including on video tape in thorough detail and my family had been interviewed, the abuser was arrested and let out on bail, his family had decided to defend him and insist I was making it up, but that is their bad judgement. I didn’t expect any support from them.
I spent months waiting for the investigating officers to decide whether there was enough evidence to charge him. I was terrified and this had truly been the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life, every day was a struggle. I went through a mixture of emotions, anger, upset, confusion, pity, sorrow and I was grieving. grieving for the childhood I had lost out on. The realisation had hit me, I had suffered throughout my whole life, the pain and the difficult situations I had found myself in, a result of the choices I wouldn’t necessarily have had made if I didn’t feel the way I did, If I wasn’t forced to carry this burden.
The grief was similar to the feeling of someone dying; I went through the same stages. I was treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when I get ill I tend to disassociate by this I mean that I sometimes feel as though someone has taken over my body and I have no control over myself; however, I’m are still aware of what is going on around me, It’s like running on auto-pilot. I sat for hours just staring, not being able to watch TV or read a book or go out or even hold a conversation. I tried listening to audio books which helped a bit but I couldn’t even listen properly.
I suffered with the anxiety too, it was so bad some days I was physically sick, my stomach was constantly in a knot and churned every time I had to do something. I couldn’t work, I didn’t want to visit my family I’d often relive the abuse through nightmares and flashbacks and experienced feelings of isolation, irritability and sorrow. I was confused and had trouble sleeping; I suffered from sleep panic attacks too. I still do feel some of these things even now, its something I am learning to live with and manage.
It took 18 months before the case was taken to court, there was problems getting information from the Tranwell Unit, which is the psychiatric hospital in Gateshead where I lived. They needed to get all my medical records from being a child, they also needed me to have an assessment which would let them know if I had narcissistic traits, narcissists can be spiteful, dishonest and selfish and it would have been used against me if I did. I scored a zero on the assessment because I am none of those things; I’m quite the opposite in fact. There was also problems getting statements from witnesses, and we had to wait a few months for the CPS to decide if the case was strong enough to hold up in court.
During this time I began receiving help from a lovely lady at The Women’s Support Network in Middlesbrough, she was there from the start and talked me through every step of the way, she didn’t just help with the court case, she offered support with other areas in my life too, whatever I was struggling with at the time she was my first point of call. I had given up on the Primary care team in Gateshead, they had failed me.
There was no point in ringing the Crisis team when I was in Crisis, my Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) was changed and the replacements I received were useless and I was hitting a constant brick wall when I begged for help. One day in remember I had enough; I was ready to take my own life. I was at rock bottom and couldn’t cope any longer, I had started planning to take my own life and was hysterical, I received a phone call from an unknown number, usually I would just ignore it but for some reason I answered it and it was The Women’s Support Network, they talked to me for an hour or so on the phone and calmed me down. They were fantastic and I can’t thank them enough for helping me at a time I thought I couldn’t go on.
I also received a lot of help from Tyneside Rape Crisis Centre, I received counselling and though I thought It wouldn’t help I was willing to do whatever it takes to get through this horrific time. To my surprise it was great, I started to feel liberated after getting my thoughts off my chest, the lady I spoke to understood and had a sense of humor which certainly helped!
At first I was scared that I would have to go in and tell the story all over again, but it wasn’t like that, we just chatted and eventually I found myself talking about all my feelings that were confusing me, the emotions I was going through, the pity I felt for myself and the way I felt about my friend and family members and how they were dealing with the situation too. It helped me put a lot into perspective and she gave me reassurance that I was doing the right thing and it would be worth it if I just hung on in there.
When he was finally sent to court he pleaded not-guilty as I expected, though I didn’t feel somewhat disappointed still. I knew I would have to stand up in court now and I was terrified. I received the date for the trial and it was still a few months away, things got worse for me as the anxiety took over and all I could think about was the fear of going to court. I went for a Pre-Trial meeting and they showed me around, I had decided I would appear via video link into the court room; this was the right decision and took off a lot of pressure.
The following Monday I attended court for the first day of the trial, My friend Limara came with me for support, she had been there from the day I reported the abuse and I will be forever grateful that she put up with me throughout the last 18 months. After waiting all morning to give evidence, it was actually adjourned until the next day. I cried because I knew I had to do it all over again tomorrow but I was also relieved that I didn’t have to do it then and there.
The following day I felt a little better about it, I knew what to expect and Witness Support where great and made us feel welcome and comfortable. My mother was giving evidence after me, so I knew I once I went in I wouldn’t see her. My older sister Sarah had come with me too. We were waiting all morning again and it wasn’t until 1pm that they came for me. Since giving my video statement I dreading having to watch it back in court, I don’t like the way I look and I hate my voice, I always fill awkward silences with inappropriate jokes and I was worried in case I had come across wrong in the statement. I was shaking, sweating and thirsty, I have genuinely never been so afraid of anything in my entire life! I sat in front of the screen and camera and was sworn in and introduced to the court room by the judge.
First we watched the video statement, it took forty minutes and I just closed my eyes for the majority, it wasn’t as bad as I thought and they had cut irrelevant bits out (thank god) but I was still cringing and sad to hear myself telling the story of a very frightened little girl whose life was ruined by the abuse she endured. I was told that the defence would then ask me a few questioned and maybe the prosecution would ask some too, I did not expect to be interrogated for two whole hours by the defence alone.
Throughout the interrogation I used grounding techniques to stop me from getting angry or too upset, I stood tall, answered the questions to the best of my knowledge. The defence tried to trick me into saying things, and putting words into my mouth, but I was one step ahead of her. I was telling the truth. If I didn’t know the answer I simply said ‘I’m sorry I don’t remember’, I repeated it over and over. She kept insisting that I was lying, to which I simply replied ‘I am not lying, I have no reason to lie, I am telling the truth’ at one point I did get angry and shook my head and rolled my eyes to stop me from saying something I might regret.
I didn’t elaborate on anything I told them unless I was 100% and I told the court that, If I wasn’t sure about something I just said ‘I’m sorry I’m not sure’ I just wanted it to be over, taking one question at a time. After two hours and forty minutes I was finished, after being such a strong woman and trying so hard to stay in control and regulate my emotions I was exhausted and I cried.
When I went back to the waiting room my Mam was allowed to give me a quick hug as the barrister had told her it had been a long time for me and I might need it, which I did. They told me I had been marvelous and so brave and they were pleased that I got through it so well under the circumstances; they had not expected it to go on so long.
Next it was my mothers turn, she was back within 20 minutes, she hadn’t been able to keep her cool as much as me and spat her answers to the defence and then left. They said it was short and sweet and she done what she needed to do. I was glad I could finally go home; I was so tired and overwhelmed.
The next few days Sarah and my cousin Leanne attended court for the rest of the trial, they were my eyes and ears and I trusted them and they heard things in that room that I have only ever told one person, the officer that took the statement. It was hard for them to hear the abuser and his family speaking about us, they lied and did what they could to get out of it.
The abuser accused my Mam of being jealous of them in the past and suggested that I was malnourished and they had just tried to help me. They contradicted their original statements, they had got dates wrong, and lied about cars they had owned, places they had lived and jobs they had had. This was after they had seen my statement, they had had time to conjure up a story together and tried to convince the jury that their original statements (which apparently proved my evidence was accurate) where wrong because they were confused and stressed when they originally gave them.
Even his defence had to question him on his lies and at one point there was even some confusion in the gallery to whether she was defending him or trying to prosecute him. When it was time for his wife and two children to take to the stand, there stories were all exactly the same. Like they had rehearsed it from a script.
They then brought in their own witness, a girl that I couldn’t remember but was apparently sometimes there too, they thought it would help if she told them that she was there too sometimes and was unharmed, but it turned out when she started to speak she confirmed some of the situations that I had told them about, like when we went up Eston Hills Strawberry picking. The abuser denied that he ever took anyone up there, but this girl said that she used to go on day trips berry picking sometimes, which confirmed what I had said.
It was a week and a half long trial, it was only supposed to last 3 days. I never thought he would get found guilty, you always hear about these people getting away with things and justice not being done. But I will never forget that phone call, Sarah being a drama queen that she is, was crying loudly and just said ‘he was found guilty’ he had originally been charged with 11 offences but was only convicted of 2 due to there being insufficient evidence for any of the other charges, though I know they knew I wasn’t lying.
The relief just flooded out of me, it was a feeling I had never experienced before in my life, it was like years of carrying this weight had been lifted of my shoulders. At this point I didn’t care what happened next, I was just relieved that I was believed, that what I had went through had been worthwhile and no matter what happened to him, he would be known to the police and I may have saved another child from going through what I had been through. I was smiling, properly smiling and I felt like it was over, it was all over finally and I could have a life now.
The sentencing came six weeks later; he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for one account of indecent assault and one of gross indecency. He was also put on the Sex Offenders Register for life and a Sex Prevention Order that means he can’t go near parks or schools etc. When I was told of the sentencing, I didn’t feel happy everyone thought I should, I felt sad. I cried and cried, I felt pity for his family as even though they lied about me and stuck by my abuser, I knew to do such thing, they must love him so much and there lives had also been ripped apart, I know it is his fault and it’s his choices that have done this, but I was sorry that they had to get hurt too.
I felt another emotion too, what I can only describe as guilt. I was given a gift I suppose, of being able to put myself into someone else’s shoes and trying to understand why they do things and how they must feel. I thought about how mentally disturbed this man must be to do what he did and maybe he was suffering mentally too, whether he realise it or not. I believe to carry out acts of abuse you have a disturbed thought process otherwise you would know it’s wrong and wouldn’t do it. I also thought about whether it might have been something he grew out of as he grew older, it was nearly 20 years ago when this abuse started, maybe he now realised how wrong it was? Though if he had surely he would have admitted it or shown some kind of remorse?
I had also spoken to a friend who had been in prison, he told me some stories of the things that go on in there and how pedophiles were treat and it was horrific, I felt like I had subjected a man to this, yes, he is a monster, but two wrongs don’t make a right. I felt like I was just as bad, like I had taken revenge, but that wasn’t my intention.
I never wanted to cause anyone any suffering or misery and I have nothing but pity for his family. I just wanted to free myself of the torment I had lived with and make people aware that this man was a danger to children, to his grandchildren even. I know that he had to pay for what he did. It was illegal and morally wrong and damaging. I have to take a step back sometimes and remind myself of the bigger picture, it wasn’t me that he abused, this strong, brave woman, it was a little girl, like my young Daughter, vulnerable, confused and scared.
Its now February 2016. This month he is being released from prison after serving 2 years and 3 months of his 4 and a half year setnece. He may already have been freed as I write this as I wasn’t given exact dates.
His suffering and punishment are over.
But my suffering isn’t, I will never be freed.