I was dreading this trial much more than the first, after all it went wrong first time..it was bound to go wrong again.
I was due to give evidence at the beginning of the trial, though it was not guaranteed that I would be allowed at all. We were actually on the bus to the train station when I head my evidence date had changed, and then the judge had ruled against me giving evidence as it would be prejudicial (hell yes it would have been!).
My journey was over, I could only now sit on the sidelines and wait for the process to be over. Thank goodness I had my cousin to keep me updated or I wouldn’t know what was going on. I began getting more nervous as the end of the trial date loomed, then it finished later than expected. It went into the second week. Onto waiting for the verdict (again). The wait seemed endless. I jumped every time my phone beeped. How is anyone meant to carry on normal life like this?
A few days before the retrial, I was asked to watch my ABE again. I had been so nervous the first time around. The second time I knew what to expect. As I sat and watched it, I was struck by a thought. How was this not enough? I had told;
- A friend at the time
- My best friend when I was 12
- My older sister & Family
- My boyfriend at 16 & his friend
- My boyfriend at 17-28
- Every close friend throughout my life continuing until present day
- My GP
- A teacher
- A lecturer at university
- My husband
- Two counsellors (one at 25, one at 30; spending nearly £10,000)
How was this not enough? And that’s just me. There were 5 of us. I didn’t know the other 3. They didn’t know each other. How was this not enough? It should have been.
If this isn’t enough, what is?.
The first day was swearing in the jury and legal argument. I was going to give evidence first thing on the second day. Arriving in the car at the court had a familiarity. I knew what to expect.
The barrister came in to see me again. He told me there was been a slight delay but the jury would soon be watching my ABE and then I would go in. There was, however, an issue. In this courtroom , the public gallery was up above. They would be able to see me. Including his brother. I didn’t want to see him. They went back to the court and arranged for this public gallery to be cleared. They would allow the public to sit in the gallery on the same level as the courtroom which meant that only the judge, jury, ushers and barristers could see me give evidence.
I sat in a small room waiting. I had my husband, my ISVA M and J from Victim Support. We sat there in silence, listening to my court playlist. I listened to it over and over. My time was drawing near. I listened to Praying again https://music.apple.com/gb/album/praying/1253656856?i=1253656863. M and I had a moment where we sat, mouthing the lyrics to the song. My SOIT joined me. I went to the toilet and threw up. When I came back out, the detective had arrived. They were laughing as she had walked in at the precise moment a really sweaty bit of I hate you was playing https://music.apple.com/gb/album/i-hate-you/1009250335?i=1009250682. They were ready for me.
I walked along the corridor flanked by them all. Again my husband waited in the room. It was too much for him to hear.
I walked in and stood in the witness box, behind the screen. M sat behind me. J was in the public gallery.
I stood to give my oath. There was a problem. The microphone wasn’t working. It wouldn’t stay switched on. I offered to hold it on. The judge wasn’t happy with this. He wanted me to concentrate on answering the questions and he wanted to make sure the jury could hear me. I stood and waited whilst the ushers positioned heavy books over the switch to keep it on.
And then it began.
Prosecution, followed by defence. I had the answers this time. I wasn’t mistaken. The abuse happened at home and at his flat. The other abuse I had suffered happened in other locations, twice with one person and once with another person. It did not happen in my bedroom with them. Only HIM.
Every time she suggested something different, I told her again exactly what I remembered him doing. She kept going for an hour and a half. I got upset. In different places to last time. But I told the truth. I knew the truth. She didn’t. And he didn’t want the truth ever to come out. But I told him more than once I will not keep your secret anymore. I will continue to speak the truth. You didn’t silence me.
The prosecution asked a few questions. His defence looked worried. She had forgotten to ask something. The judge allowed her to question me again. She sat back down, a few more questions from the prosecution and then I was done.
This time, when I left the witness box I felt amazing. Six feet tall. I had done all I could. The rest was up to the jury.
So it was January 2019 and here we were again at court. Again the build up was terrifying, another Christmas with it hanging over our heads.
This time thinrgs moved a bit quicker. My husband and a friend came and supported me. I got to court just after 9am and by 9.30am I was on the stand. I knew what to expect this time so it was less daunting but then again I knew what was coming and so I was still scared.
It’s the most surreal thing walking into a courtroom. It’s so alien, it’s like walking onto a film set. The pomp and the wigs. It’s all a bit bizarre.
You’re sworn in, the prosecution ask a few questions and then you brace yourself for the defence. I wasn’t scared of her. I was telling the truth.
I was on the stand for 50 minutes this time. Obviously I couldn’t talk about the charge he was acquitted of. No carnation defence this time (he had apparently admitted buying us flowers when he was cross examined during the first trial). Someone told me before the first trial that you can tell what the defence will be by the questions they ask you. I was asked so many silly questions, they try and trip you up, to make you look unreliable, but you can’t trip over when you’re telling the truth.
Rationally you know that it isn’t personal what the defence barrister says to you, but it feels it. You know that they are just doing a job, but I’m glad it’s not something I have to do to pay my mortgage. I’m glad I don’t have to try and reconcile defending someone you probably know is guilty.
After the 1st trial someone told to think about what I wanted to say, what I wanted him to hear in court. I was glad to be able to look him in the eye as I said “I know what he is”.
It went ok, I told my truth. I was a little rattled when the defence barrister quoted back something from counselling notes from years ago, but mostly I was angry at her for twisting my words.
When I left the stand this time I didn’t feel invincible when I left the stand, I was shit scared. What if this went wrong again? What if the jury couldn’t see what he was?
The build up to the second trial was worse then the first. You know what to expect, you know the questions that will be asked… and you try as best as you can to keep calm, but the nerves are worse. Everything is worse. But in someways it was better this time, I had the court witness people with me and he gave me some great advice. Just keep calm and say only what you want to say. I managed to get through all of the build up without another panic attach, but by the time it came to getting in the box again, I could fell my nerves… building. It felt quicker this time, like it was over faster. I tried to look the jury in the eye. I tried to make sure they could see me. See my pain. But it felt worse. I didn’t leave on cloud 9! I left feeling worse then I had before. I was convinced he was going to get away with it again. Convinced they didn’t believe me. I couldn’t believe he was going to get away with it. I just wanted to cry.