The lead up to court, I won’t lie, was a stressful and uneasy time but my god was it all worth it!
Once my case went through investigation, I had to provide a more detailed statement for every single attack. It can be written or recorded as a video statement. The police give you the option. In all likelihood you’re vulnerable amongst other things and should this go to court the police would seek special measures for you. Special measures being the video being played as evidence, you’re giving video evidence via video link or you can be in court behind a screen so the suspect is unable to see you at all times. The courts/judges are very understanding so do generally grant forms of special measures.
I knew If it went to court, I would want to sit there in front of him with no screen. I didn’t need to think twice about it. I needed to see him. I needed to see some sort of remorse on his face, which I hoped I would get.
I had an incredible Detective Sergeant called Christopher Page who I honestly owe everything to and still to this day I speak to regularly. I found myself worrying about my ex constantly and it was Chris who made me see a lot of sense. Especially as I never wanted to originally report him.
Police are likely to require bail conditions like non-contact directly or indirectly. To which my ex received. No contact from the day the police were involved was allowed. If they are to breach this offence ‘witness intimidation’ they are eligible to be arrested for a second offence. In my case this is exactly what happened 4 months later when he was first arrested and charged. I had received a text one afternoon telling me ‘to go and self-harm myself.’ He was arrested again and given a separate court date for this.
I don’t think I will ever forget the morning I found out he was being charged. I was on the bus from Sloane Square going to Oxford Circus when I received the call. Before Detective Page could speak I was crying down the phone saying I couldn’t take it much longer, it was all too much. As soon as I heard the words “Laura, he’s been charged”. I jumped off the bus and fell to the floor outside John Lewis crying on the ground. I suddenly felt a relief that I had been heard and believed.
I was regularly kept up to date through out the whole time leading up to trial, which was 7 months. It was hard. Even though we were no longer together, strangely with no contact I very much still felt a part of his life.
Once a person is charged the police will still be gathering evidence. The CPS and police will liaise to progress the case. His phone was seized the day he was arrested to review relevant data for evidence. In my case there were thousands of messages between us as well as picture evidence, which helped my case. I remember feeling an immense amount of frustration that my life had got so out of control. We had no way of communicating yet so many people I felt were then involved. Here I was still in no control of my life.
You are able to visit the court in advance, which the police will facilitate. It’s to put you at ease so you know what happens and where, in the court room. I had Detective Page with me and a very sweet lady who showed me around. It was all becoming very real.
Likely before trial or during the trial the police will require a victim impact statement. This details how the crime has affected you in your life and potentially the ones around you. This statement would be used if the defendant has been found guilty and before the judge sentences the defendant. It can be read aloud or if you would prefer the judge would read themselves.
Every story and experience will be very different, this is mine and I hope it can help anyone going through this or thinking about going through it to know you aren’t alone. Hopefully it can take away some of the fear of the unknown.
If I had been able to read an account of someone else’s experience before my court, it would have made it so much easier for me to know what to expect. Half of the fear is just not knowing, which can be terrifying. So many women sadly don’t press charges, and for multitude of valid and often heart-breaking reasons. Know that it is one of the hardest things you will go through, but I will never be able to put into words the completely empowering feeling on the other side. I hope you find this blog post useful, and always feel free to get in touch with us at I am Arla.
Love, Laura x
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