Dealing with Life After. Advice for UK violent assault victims
Sometimes things happen. One courageous woman reinforces the message that UK police procedure is changing to make it less of a nightmare to give evidence, and that it’s OK to get counselling. TW Assault.
As my closest friends know, in November 2011 a guy broke into my house, threatened me with a knife, stole some stuff and tried to violate me. Everything is OK I fought him off, got the knife off him, called the police. He’s in prison now. Bit of a drama, but I am intact, body and soul. I wouldn’t have been, without a lot of help from my partner, the police, my neighbours, and my friends. I have had more love and friendship and support shown to me than I deserve, and I can never thank those people enough. But even with their help, I still needed independent counselling. The bravest man I know, an ex-soldier, advised me that if I didn’t get that counselling, what had happened would poison me. He was right.
So this is written for anybody out there who has been through an attack. Bear in mind, my advice is limited to UK practice, because that’s all I know. I’m going to say something unpopular right now; the Metropolitan Police were superb. They were respectful, professional and very caring and in the end, they got the perpetrator! They were the first to point me at decent counselling options.
I list the following two links because I have used the services and can personally vouch for them. Irrespective of gender, religion, ethnic background, age, or sexual orientation, they offer excellent confidential help, and they are free.
Victim Support: http://www.victimsupport.org/
Seriously extraordinary counselling, Victim Support is there for anybody who has been the victim of a crime. They have a direct helpline, but you can also make appointments for local one-to-ones. The police strongly recommended these guys, and I avoided them for ages because it seemed like such a hassle. Talk about an idiot! Best counselling I have ever had!
The Havens: http://www.thehavens.co.uk/
You do not need to be the victim of a crime specifically to go to the Havens, though they can help with some really difficult issues, from talking to the police anonymously to testing for carnally transmitted badnesses and gathering forensic evidence. Again, they offer respectful and gentle counselling. They are not about pursuing a case. They are all about you, what you want and need.
The Havens are based in London, and are one of the support organisations listed at http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/centres.php. This link can help you find help wherever you live in the UK. Don’t let the name put you off, they offer help dealing with all kinds of sexual violence/abuse; it isn’t all about penetration. Their services extend to men as well as women and children.
If you want specifically male-orientated guidance, both the Havens and Victim Support offer it, but Survivors UK has an excellent reputation too:
Never forgetting the other side of the wall, where help is often needed most and given least;
With regard to my case, the police did everything they could to make the situation easier. There are new ways of delivering evidence that may lessen the trauma of it.
Video statements can make up the body of your evidence, so you may not have to spend time in court, or keep retelling what happened. These video statements are not played to the suspect; they aren’t going to see you or hear you describe the incident.Video line-ups can also be used for ID parades.
If you are called to testify in court, arrangements can be made, screens can be used, so that you will not see the defendant and they will not see you.
It is never easy, but attitudes towards sexual assault are changing. If you don’t have facilities to these services where you live, campaign to get them. They should be your right.
Here’s to respect for all of us.