The police arranged a car to pick me up. My husband and my mum travelled with me. I came armed with a huge bag. I knew I would be waiting for some time. I had mindfulness colouring books, I had a tapestry, books, and food. I didn’t use any of them.
My ISVA M was waiting outside the courtroom. I had sent the detective a text tell her I had arrived. She was going to be in court so my SOIT came out to meet us. We had to go through court security. It was like an airport. Shoes off, drinking any liquids in front of the security Officer, bag through the X-ray machine, and me walking through the detector, followed by a body scan with a handheld detector front and back. I had brought a mug from home, a bit of comfort. That was deemed too dangerous and couldn’t bring it in. My older sister, who had come to offer some moral support, quickly took it away and put it in her car.
The SOIT made sure that HE was in court and then hurried us into a witness room. J from Victim Support also arrived, and there we sat. We waited and waited. I felt sick. I just wanted the day over with. Every time I needed the toilet I had to either go when Court was in session (and he was in the dock) or I needed a police escort; they would go ahead, make sure he wasn’t there. First there were legal arguments, then they had to swear in the jury. I knew there was another victim and their witnesses to go before me.
Today was the day I had to watch my ABE. My advocate had tried to arrange to me watch it before today, before court, at the centre, it wasn’t ready, I was told. It was being edited. So, on the day that was already stressful, I had to watch my ABE. They do this to give witnesses a chance to see their statement. With any other witness they would get to read their statement before they testify, incase you have forgotten anything, I didn’t need to see it again. I hadn’t forgotten. It was etched into my memory. My advocate wasn’t allowed in with me. So I sat in a room, alone, with my SOIT outside, watching myself talk about the most horrific parts of my life. Watching it wasn’t easy. I was glad when it was over.
Now all I could do was wait. I couldn’t focus on anything. The only thing I could do was listen to my court playlist (see https://warriorwomen.org.uk/self-care/). As time went on, I started to worry that I would start and then be cross examined the next day. The thought of that was horrific. More time passed. It became clear they wouldn’t get to me today.
I had to go home and do it all again the next day. The minute I knew that, I could eat, for the first time that day. At least my testimony would not be split into two.
The car came the next day, this time just my husband and I didn’t bother with the bag of stuff. As long as I had my playlist, my rescue remedy and my husband by my side I knew I would be ok.
We arrived at court, was met by M (ISVA) and J from Victim Support. Went into the small witness room and waited. I felt nervous, but by now I was so ready. Every time the nerves hit I reminded myself I just needed to tell the truth.
At some point the prosecution barrister came in and introduced himself. Later I was informed the court were playing my ABE. They moved me from the witness room I had been in to one right near the court room. The time was coming near. We got into the room. I felt sick. I went to the toilet, and threw up. I wiped my face and came out.
Then the usher came in. They were ready. I hugged my husband and he gave me a stone to hold. I had given him the choice about whether he would come into court. As much as he knew what had happened, he didn’t know the gory details. He couldn’t unhear it. He would be angry at me being cross examined. I needed a calm sympathetic hug when I came out, not anger.
I took a deep breath, and opened the door.