I had started to think it would never happen. I thought they would never find him. He had the most ridiculously common name, and with no date of birth it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Every day I woke and thought, is this the day they will find him?
As the months dragged on, I spent the time making me invisible online. I removed all photos of me, contacted google to remove myself from searches, contacted people at work, and anyone that knew me that might have my picture up with public access. It meant I had to tell people. People I worked with, people I knew online, telling them something so difficult to say. I got quite good at it in the end, without giving the details I would say “without going into the gory details, I was a victim of a crime as a child and I have reported this to the police, and they are trying to find him. Can you please remove my photo from XYZ “. As much as I couldn’t talk about the details (it’s all about preserving the evidence
the horror of my childhood), I found the more people I told I was walking taller. I didn’t have to hid that part of me anymore. This is me, this is what I experienced, this is who I am. I wasn’t going to carry his guilt and shame anymore and I certainly wasn’t going to keep his secret.
One day, out of the blue, we got the call. I was at work. My SOIT rang. She asked if anyone had called me over the weekend (they hadn’t). She told me that they had found him, he had been arrested, and he was out on bail. My head began to whirl. I was in shock. I didn’t know what to say. I asked a couple of questions; I can’t remember what. I think they were about bail conditions. I was told he couldn’t contact me. I put the phone down. Immediately felt terrified. I had told, and he knew I had told. I don’t remember him threatening me, but I knew I mustn’t tell. I knew that something bad would happen if I did. I always felt he would get me. That I would disappear. It was then that I realized that I was one of the last people left in the office. I checked, no-one had locked the door. I
completely irrationally thought he knew where I was, where I worked, and he was going to come and kill me.
I locked the door to the building. I discovered that the head of my department was still the office. I knocked on his door, asked to speak to him, and it all came tumbling out. He told me they would put precautions in place (remove me from the website) and that if he did turn up he would have to come through him.
I phoned my mum, phoned my sisters. I had so many questions, and so my SOIT was bombarded with text messages as and when they came up. He had been arrested. He hadn’t yet been charged. This was a decision the CPS would need to make.