My Living Nightmare
I went to court looking and feeling like myself. I had my own hair, my own nails and a lot of support. I had a woman from Witness Protection. She had previously been to see me at work and told me how she could support me when I was being questioned. During questioning, she sat behind me so I did not feel alone. I had a woman from Women’s Aid attend court with me. Prior to the court date she had shown me around the court and went through what to perhaps expect. I also had witness protection. When giving my evidence I was behind a curtain so I could not see his smug face or his family / friends, which made me feel relieved as this was what I was most scared of as I found him very intimidating. I was also granted a secure entrance, so he would not see me entering the court. Lastly, my friends were there, including his ex-partner and the mother of his son.
I cannot lie to you and tell you that this was not one of the most daunting experiences of my life. I was questioned for over an hour and a half. I had to relive my experiences. I was accused of lying. I was made to feel insignificant, but I got to share my story and tell the truth. With all the support, I felt safe, secure and I was finally being heard. It was hard; I cried, I felt emotional, but I felt relieved. It was over.
He was acquitted, there was not enough evidence to prove his intent to hurt me; originally I thought I would be upset by this, but I wasn’t. I felt like I had still won. Just because he was found not guilty does not make him innocent and the magistrates recognised this. They had heard my story. His family, friends and new girlfriend had heard my story. This gave me comfort in knowing that one day they might recognise signs or relate to my story and they will see him for what he truly is.
I now feel free. The woman from witness protection made me realise something. One of the thoughts initially going through my head was do I warn his new girlfriend once this is over. She told me that even by being angry, showing hate, retaliating, just showing any kind of emotion shows that I care. I did not want to care. I do not owe anyone anything. I stood my ground. I stood up for myself. I cannot change someone else’s opinion and nor do I need to hold on to something anymore. Why would I want to prolong the torment anymore?
Going to court gave me the satisfaction and gratification that I needed. I stood up to him. I showed him that he can no longer hurt me and he cannot hurt anyone else. If he did and he gets reported, he will go straight back to court. I really hope that this has taught him a lesson that he cannot treat women the way that he treat me. Again, I felt really empowered.
The whole process has been so difficult and challenging on my personal and work life. I had managed to start dating again, however, this did not work out. I feel this is important to mention as I called the police on 101 and wanted to know about the man I was dating as he had said to me ‘why are you wearing that, it looks too booby’, which I felt was completely inappropriate as I can wear what I want and I recognised an element of controlling behaviour. As per Claire’s Law, I could find out if he had a record. As it happened it had. He had been previously arrested for harassment just last year, where harassed an ex-girlfriend and had been found guilty. Without this, I would never have known. Claire’s Law protected me from potentially being with another man who could try and control my life. This allowed me to take control and make my own decisions. I decided to discontinue the relationship. I do not feel disheartened, I do not feel upset, but I felt once again relieved and I believe in the law.
I have somehow managed to remain strong. I showed him he could not touch or hurt me anymore. That I could stand up to him and my confidence grew. I have had so much support from Broxtowe Women’s Project; I have been on a course to learn about domestic abuse and the perpetrator. The Freedom Programme helped me to realise it was not my fault. I have a support worker that has helped me with my wellbeing and emotional needs. She never judged and always listened. She gave me the strength, encouragement and motivation to pursue court. Also, my friends. Without their support and belief in me, I would not be where I am now. I feel like I am stronger than ever, a survivor, an advocate to other women who have been ashamed, embarrassed, fearful and scared of their own lives.
There is hope. Believe me there were days I felt so low I could not get out of bed and I could not think of a reason to live; but I had help, support, my friends, my dogs, BWP and the police all on my side. Nothing else mattered, I was safe.
I don’t think I will ever be able to understand the actions of that man, but what I do know is that he will never be able to hurt me again and I am giving women the opportunity to believe in hope. You do deserve happiness and living a life of fear, depression and anxiety is not the way. I am the happiest I have ever been living my life in hope, confidence and knowing people had faith in me. I hope my story can show you there is a way out, you do have the strength and you do not have to put up with the abuse any longer. 2 years I lived in fear, lived by being called names, lived by not feeling good enough and being made to feel small. Now all I feel is sadness for this individual that he has to do this to women to feel empowered himself. I had no idea whether or not he would be convicted, but I had enough strength and empowerment to show him I would not tolerate his behaviour. You have the right to be you, feel safe and live a happy and healthy life.
It was one of those cases where I got a chilled feeling when the lady who’d just been referred to me was describing her situation with her husband. I completed a risk assessment form (DASH) which we as outreach workers do for all new referrals. Her score was only medium risk, not supposedly serious enough … Continue reading Coercive Control