On December 27th 2018, I went to the police station to give my video interview. My mum and dad came with me for support. We walked into the main reception and had to ask for the investigating officer. She came down to meet us and walked us up to the room where the interview would take place. I remember walking through completely dazed at my surroundings. How had I ended up here? I didn’t want to be here. I didn’t ask for this. I felt like a child, looking back to make sure my mum and dad were still behind me. Offices full of officers lined the left hand side of the corridor with the right lined with police gear. The whole situation felt extremely surreal. We reached the room and were then met by a second officer who would be helping with the process. They showed us into the room where I would be sitting to give my interview. There were 2 CCTV cameras on the wall and microphones to pick up what was said. I stood there shaking, barely saying a word. I was so overwhelmed. They then showed us into the room where the second officer would watch and listen to the interview, making sure that everything that needed to be asked and answered would be covered. My mum and dad were then shown to the seats in the main room in which they could wait. My heart raced. I kept looking at my mum and dad, wishing with everything I had that they didn’t have to go through this. But it was too late. No matter how much I hoped, there was nothing that could be done to change the situation that we had found ourselves in.

I don’t know how long the interview took in total. It all felt like a bit of a blur. After we’d done, the officers sat us down to talk us through what had already happened and what would happen next. She told me that she wanted to set my expectations from the start, and the next thing she said made my heart sink completely. She told us “if he’s got a solicitor, his solicitor will have advised him to say that it was consensual. As there are no other witnesses, his solicitor will advise him to say that it was consensual as it makes it much harder for the police prove. If he says that nothing happened but the DNA tests taken from you show his DNA, it will prove he’s lied and therefore guilty. But if he says it’s consensual then it will give reason for his DNA to be found on you and means it will be harder for the police to prove he’s lying”. She then went on to tell me that he had in fact said in his statement that it was consensual, and I just started to cry.

I sat there wondering why I was bothering to go through all of this if all he had to say was 3 words to save his skin. “It was consensual”. That was it. That’s all he had to say to make everything I was going through seem pointless. I was upset and incredibly angry. How was that fair? How was it so easy for him to get himself out of it? I’ve never felt as deflated as I did in that moment. The last 36 hours had already had such an affect on me mentally, emotionally and had already made me physically sick. I didn’t know how to feel hearing what he’d said in his statement. I wanted to feel hopeful that the police would still be able to prove he’d sexually assaulted me, but from what had been said so far I wasn’t feeling very positive.

Over the next few weeks it was very much a waiting game. The police had everything they could get in terms of statements and evidence and would need to put the case forward to the CPS to see whether they had a strong enough case to take it to court. It was a horrible and agonising wait. Of course I wanted it to go to court because I wanted there to be a punishment for what I’d been put through. However, I’d been told that if it did go to court then it could be an extremely difficult process for me to deal with. Although I knew it would be difficult, the thought of getting justice outweighed the thought of what court would be like.

Throughout the weeks whilst I waited, I was also having to deal with ongoing issues from the people closest to my attacker. Awful things were said about me. Through third parties I was being told that my attacker had been informed that I was under investigation myself for my motive behind reporting the crime. I was told how the police had told my attacker that there were holes in my story so he didn’t have to worry. All of this was confirmed by the police to be a lie. I was then hearing that I’d done this for money. I had supposedly reported the crime in order to bribe my attacker for money in order to drop the charges, but apparently my plan hadn’t worked out. They tried to tell my boyfriend that I would accuse him of the same thing in the future so it would be better if he stayed clear of me. The multiple lies that were being said constantly both about me and about things the police were supposedly saying were incredibly difficult to deal with. Although both myself and the people closest to me knew that what they were saying was a lie, I knew that what they were really trying to do was to get into my head, and it was working. I didn’t know how much longer I could take it. I wanted it all to stop. I wanted to run away from everything. I’d been through so much already and it just wasn’t stopping. Day by day they were trying to chip away at me more and more. Too many days did I sit there and wonder whether I’d done the right thing by going to the police. Maybe if I’d not bothered then I wouldn’t be suffering with the constant hassle I was getting now. I felt so low. So deflated. So worthless. This was around the time that the first thoughts of suicide began to happen. I just couldn’t see how any of it would stop otherwise.

A couple of months ago I saw a quote which has stuck with me ever since, especially after going through what I’ve mentioned above. The quote was – “disclosing abuse should never trigger a second round of trauma from the perpetrators defenders. Dealing with the abuse is bad enough”.

After what felt like a lifetime but was probably around 2 months, the police got in touch with a decision. As my attacker had said it was consensual, they didn’t have a strong enough case to take it to court. I could feel my eyes welling up. He explained that the CPS didn’t believe there would be enough evidence for a jury to find him guilty beyond reasonable doubt. However, they told me that this did not mean that he was innocent. The case was closed with an outcome of “evidentially unable to be proven”. I didn’t know how to feel. I was glad that the process would finally be coming to an end, but it wasn’t fair. He’d literally just got away with sexually assaulting a female almost 30 years younger than himself by claiming that I had consented to the whole thing. I felt physically sick. He’d got away with it, and there was nothing more that I could do to try and get justice. I felt let down. I felt like what I’d been through just didn’t matter. I’d suffered for months for absolutely nothing. My life had been affected by all of this quite drastically, and for what? I was devastated.

The process isn’t a fair one, and I whole heartedly believe that crimes such as this won’t begin to stop until proper punishments are put in place and implemented. The statistics for the amount of sexual assault and rape cases which are taken to court is shocking. The amount of perpetrators that are actually convicted is even worse. Something has to change and quickly. I still feel let down that my attacker walked away and continued with his life without consequences for his actions, whilst I still deal almost daily with the affects his actions have had on me.

The article below is something I read around 7 months ago and again is something that has stuck with me. I strongly advise to read it after reading this blog post.

Much love,

Steph xo

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