Calderdale Victim Encourages Others to Come Forward as Part of VAWG Week of Action

She hopes her account, which remains anonymous to protect her identity, will encourage others to come forward and help them to understand the processes behind the scenes.

28th September 2022

As part of the ongoing Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Week of Action, a woman from Calderdale has bravely shared her personal experience.

Her partner was convicted of assaulting her and was this week sentenced at Crown Court.

She hopes her account, which remains anonymous to protect her identity, will encourage others to come forward and help them to understand the processes behind the scenes.

She said:

“I wasn’t the person who rang the police when my partner attacked me, he did it in public and so someone else called them. But they came to find me straight away and wanted me to tell them what had happened.

“I was still in shock and my face was already swelling and my eyes closing up. I had never called the police before and so I just was like a robot answering questions and being terrified that things were just going to get worse and worse.

“I felt I wanted everything to stop for a bit, so I could catch my thoughts up with what had just happened. I didn’t want to give a statement, I was really scared of the repercussions.

“The two police men were really nice, they seemed to understand why I was too scared, so they didn’t push me and treated me with respect, they just talked about all the options I had and ways I could be safe.

“They kept contacting me, but it didn’t feel like pressure more that they wanted me to know it was my choice and I could change my mind at any time.

“However, I had lots of support around me and I can see how maybe that would feel if I was on my own.

“It took me a few weeks to break the control my ex-partner was using to keep me from giving a statement, and a police woman came to take a statement.

“She was lovely with me, she never made me feel stupid for not giving a statement straight away. She made the process of giving my statement as comfortable as she could and supported me through everything I had to say.

“It’s true what they say about everything changing when you take back control, and I know that’s when it can be most dangerous, but at the same time it felt really good to be in control of my life.

“What I wasn’t prepared for was that it would take 18 months for the case to get to court, but had people around me keeping me safe, I had occasional visits from officers to make sure he was abiding by his bail conditions and checking in on how I was doing, I was able to ask the officers to park in certain places and only visit at certain times or not at all. The more he tried to harass me the stronger and more determined I got to see it through.

“It wasn’t easy to wait for the court case and I did have moments of wanting to retract, but I am extremely glad and proud that I never did.

“I struggled with huge anxiety from the day it happened and when I heard that he was not pleading guilty and I would have to give evidence I had a real set back, but I spoke to my witness care officer and he arranged for me to look around the court buildings and then I also got to watch another trial and see how victims were treated in court.

“It made a huge difference to how I was feeling and on the day, as my surroundings were familiar and no longer taunting to me, and I had some knowledge of what may happen while I was giving my evidence.

“I was greeted at a separate entrance and taken to the private victim room, so I didn’t need to worry about being in the corridors of the court building and seeing him or anyone with him. Witness care and the prosecutor had talked me through lots of options to give my evidence.

“They offered a video link or screens if I wanted them, I ended up having screens so he couldn’t see me, and I couldn’t see him as I was giving evidence.

“The prosecutor talked to me just before I went into court, she was so lovely and very confident, and the magistrates were compassionate and explained what I needed to do clearly.

“By the time I started giving my evidence I still felt scared and anxious, but also strong and ready to tell everyone in court what happened.

“I wasn’t expecting him to take victim blaming so far, but by then I was so much stronger I knew the court wouldn’t believe what he was saying and hearing it myself brought it home how manipulative he was still trying to be.

“The magistrates didn’t believe him, and I was so glad I was in court to hear the guilty verdict, because when they summed up their decision, they just knew I was telling the truth.

“I felt so strong and relieved listening to them tell him they didn’t believe his lies and that what he had done was so serious he was going to crown court for sentencing.

“I know it meant another court case 3 weeks later, but I was told I didn’t need to be there and could send an impact statement so that court would fully understand how I was affected more than just which the physical injuries, which I will have for life, and my solicitor would read this out for me.

“That afternoon and evening I got a huge wave of relief and peace as it sunk in that we had won, it was all over and I was moving on.

“I hope people will use the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme or Clare’s Law to find out if they are in a relationship with a known abuser, it could save someone going through what I have.”