‘Not guilty’ does not = innocence.

I’ve been writing this blog in my head all day. And I’ve read some really articulate articles and thoughts from some very highly intelligent people who use big words and who speak sense, and I admire them. I’m not highly intelligent and I don’t pretend to be. And so I wondered if I should even attempt to put my thoughts down in words on this topic. But I’ve nothing to lose, so here goes.

On Thursday night, for the first time I think since I’ve been online I had to log myself out in an effort to take care of myself. Not because I was in any physical harm, but because my head was about to explode with some of the stupid comments I was reading about a particular high profile sexual abuse case that has been in the media this week. The one where he was found not guilty. Another not guilty.

I’ve gotten into many conversations online with people over the last year when several of these cases have been played out in the media, because there have been a few, and I’m sure there will be more to come. But on Thursday night, I was so close to wanting to bang my head up a brick wall, and swear, and get angry with people that I logged out, took a deep breath and carried on my life, because I am better than that. I am better than being reduced down to swearing at people because they frustrate me.

So, having had a day or two to think about it here I am, attempting to write some of my thoughts, on these high profile cases, and the current ‘justice’ system when it comes to sexual abuse and rape. I say ‘justice’ in inverted comments, because actually I do not have any faith in the current ‘justice’ system that exists in this country, for people like me, survivors of sexual abuse and rape.

And I do not believe that a not guilty verdict = innocence.

It simply means that not enough evidence was gathered to prove beyond all doubt 100 % that there is guilt.

Not guilty does not = innocence.

People don’t like that. People don’t like me saying that and people argue back at me. Thats fine.

But all I know is this – that taking a case of sexual abuse or rape to court is one of the most incredibly toughest thing to do.

Which is why we see such a low rate of prosecutions in this area.

Which is why see people reporting but choosing not to proceed further with their case to the courts.

Which is why we see a staggering amount of people, victims of sexual abuse and/or rape not reporting at all.

Because what is the point?

What would it be for? To be dragged through a process where at every step of the way, they set out to undermine you and your character, your history and your life. Where at every step of the way you have to justify and account for what you were doing/where you were/why you were there/what you were wearing/whether you’re screamed or not.

Where every step of the way you are admonished for not ‘reporting sooner’ or are asked ‘why did you wait’ or told ‘your a liar’.

Where every step of the way everything you once were and still are is hauled through, picked and pulled to pieces.

To be hounded when an inevitable ‘not guilty’ verdict is returned against them because in the pressure of being quizzed and having your entire world exposed in front of a court room and jury you stuttered, or stumbled on the exact time or date, or because for a moment your mind goes blank because the trauma of what your having to relive sends your brain into a meltdown.

What exactly is the point, of people like me reporting and trying to take my abusers to court for their crimes?

The justice system and way it works is not one that works for us. For survivors. It favours the perpetrator every step of the way.

Which is why we see, for example 1 in 4 women being raped every year in the UK, and yet the statistics of these cases going to court being shockingly low.

And its why we see people like Frances Andrade committing suicide days after giving evidence in court, because she felt as if she had been violated all over again, saying to the jury ‘this feels like rape all over again’.

I don’t know if that statement means much to you – or not, but as someone who knows the feelings of re violation in different ways, I strongly identify with the pain she must have been in to say that.

Every now and then I come into contact with someone, a professional where I have to disclose my abuse. Most recently last year. And when you disclose to them about the abuse you suffered as a child, at the hands of a man in your life who was supposed to protect you they ask ‘have you ever reported it/do you want to report it/have you ever thought about taking it to court’?

A good question, and I know they have to ask. And yes I’ve thought about it. Many a times. And only ever seriously thought about it once, when a very close friend, who despite distance managed to support me through the most painful times of life suggested it as a possibility and offered to hold my hand through the entire process. I appreciate their support.

But why would I do that?

What for?

For all of above? For my evidence to not be strong enough to proof without doubt he is guilty to have a ‘guilty’ verdict returned. My word against his. I’d be torn to pieces.

No thanks.

I read something this morning that suggested that the jury in the most recent public case, where a non guilty verdict was returned just a few days ago were most likely swayed by the ‘why didn’t they report it immediately’ argument.

If you are going to use that to make your point, you have absolutely no idea of the impact and the trauma that being sexually abused/violated has on you, your life, and your mind. The mind being the most crucial as something you have absolutely no control over. I have no control over when my brain is going to freeze, or go into melt down, or flashback, or give me nightmares in my sleep. A regular occurrence.

If you use the ‘why didn’t they report’ is sooner argument then you have absolutely no idea of the fear, hatred against yourself, and shame, plus many many other feelings a survivor feels about themselves. You have no idea.

People do not report immediately for many reasons. That is not because they are lying.

Until the system is changed, until the processes that are currently in place change and until changes are made in the training and understanding of sexual crimes so at the very first point of contact a survivor is believed as opposed to the default position being they are lying is changed, then we will continue seeing not guilty after after not guilty in both high profile cases and non high profile ones.

I truly admire anyone who chooses to go down the path of prosecution against their perpetrators in the vain hope they find justice.

I’m sorry it lets you down. Time after time. After time.

I believe you.

#ibelieveyou #ibelievethem #ibelievehim #ibelieverher