Crime and Punishment

I normally try to be quite balanced in my opinions about sensitive subjects. I like to weigh up both sides of a coin before I make my decision on matters, and despite recent events in my personal life – I still try to remain in this mindset. I’ve realised in hindsight how easy it can be to question things you read in the news and find yourself in the position of judge, jury and executioner on an individual’s actions. However, I now realise that unless you’ve been through the proceedings of a criminal case you really can’t comment correctly on how something may or may not have been done.  It’s a subject I’ve been wary of writing about for several reasons, but as it is a matter that has a profound impact on my mental wellbeing which will most likely intensify over the next month, I thought it may be time to tackle it as best I can.

There are a couple of individuals who I have got to know that have been through a similar experience, with and without legal intervention, and who I have spoken to about this and in turn writing this post. I’m aware as much as they are by the triggering nature of things we read and see, and so I’m proceeding with caution in what I write. It’s been somewhat of a comfort to have communication with people who have also been exposed to varying degrees of sexual abuse and violence and to know that I’m not as alone as I have felt before. To be able to have someone who can understand and listen, who can empathise and not sympathise, and not to feel judged by your actions or how you cope with the aftermath is a true sigh of relief. It is one of those situations whereby if you haven’t been through it, there really isn’t anything you can say. You just can’t understand it.

I, for one, cannot express my gratitude towards every professional who has been and still is involved in my case. From Police Officers and Detectives, Liaisons, medical staff, and Police-linked therapy and support staff, every single individual has done (in my view) their utmost to make me feel like I have been treated with dignity, respect and care. They have been only a phone call away for any worries or questions, and in a time where nothing feels safe or sacred anymore, to have that stability and consistency around me has been a true lifeline. I don’t know what I would have done without their guidance and assistance, and considering my initial reaction was to not even involve legal proceedings, I feel a sense of relief that I have.

As most people will know, the majority of rape and sexual assault cases aren’t even brought to police attention. That tends to be something that people recoil at and question why that would be the case – but I fully understand it as someone who also wanted to be included within that majority. If it wasn’t for my living situation, I will admit that I don’t think I would have reported it. There are no words to express how utterly humiliating and degrading that experience is, and then to have to further expose yourself by telling strangers word for word everything that happened to you in frank and graphic detail is demeaning to the hilt.

My case has yet to go to trial, the date of which has been set after a setback or two. Thinking about going through with this process in the next few weeks makes me feel nauseous when it’s already caused so much physical and emotional pain, and taken so much away from me. Anyone who knows me on a personal level will know that as a chronic insomniac, sleep tends to be a rarity for me and coupled with my recurrent night terrors I very highly doubt that any semblance of rest will not come easily any time soon.

I try my hardest to switch off from knowing that this next part of the process is on the horizon, but how do you fully switch off from something that essentially haunts your every waking moment? I don’t think you ever can – not really.

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