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cherub_rock05 in help_them_heal

HELP

So I tried to start this post like...five different ways but nothing I wrote seemed write so I think I'm just going to dive right in here. I was sexually abused from the ages of three to six by my father. I didnt anyone until I was fourteen when I was sent to a wilderness camp for cutting. My therapist called social services and it has all sort of been down hill from there.  Prosecutors wanted to try my case, but they would only do it if they had my testimony.  They technically could have done it without me, but they thought they would have a stronger case with my testimony. It wasn't until last year that I decided to testify. I didn't want to, still dont, sure as hell wasn't ready, still not, but I have an almost two year old niece now. I can't run the risk of having what happened to me, happen to her. So all my older siblings have disowned me, I'm constantly plauged by bouts of severe depression, as well as nightmares but I'm still going to through with it. For her. My dad recently pleaded 'not guilty' to one count of sexual indecency with a minor(I think that was the term for it) and the court date is June 23rd. Suffice to say I am scared out of my fucking mind. I havent seen or talked to my dad since 2004, but even when I did he always scared the piss out of me most days. Plus, I HATE talking about the details, I have only told five people the details and every time I felt physically sick. And to top it all off, I am going to have to say those details in front of my dad and a jury, and I will be cross examined by my dads lawyer! I am going to be made out to be a crazy, lying, attention seeking, manipulative child. But I'm not! So the point of this post is, I was wondering if anyone had ever had to testify in court before? Can you offer me some advice please? Thanks.
-Hannah

Comments

All I can really say is that I wish you luck for this and to be strong.
I've never had to testify in a court, but good luck and welcome. I'd advise you to practice what you want to say with someone. That might help. If you get nervous on the stand, try to take deep breaths, think about what you want to say and then start talking. They have nothing but time. Don't let them make you feel rushed.
Thank you for your support. I do have a lawyer and will be practicing a lot with her, we will even be practicing what the other lawyer will be asking me, and the worst case scenario. I'm not really worried about being prepared, it's just that all that is pretty much going to go out the window once I step into that court room. But I will just have to do the best I can. Thanks again.
Let us know how it goes. Best of luck.
Hello Hannah,
Thank you so much for posting your story here. I admire your courage and dedication in bringing your attacker-father to justice.

My daughter was continually assaulted both sexually and emotionally by her former boyfriend, ending a little over a year ago. She is still working hard to put her life back together.
The issue of prosecuting has come up often in my conversations with her, but she has not yet gone forward with it so I don't have any personal advice to give you on that subject other than suggesting that you 1. remind yourself of the significant reason you're going to court (your well-being, your niece etc), 2. remind yourself that you are RIGHT and that you have a very important history to tell, 3. that it has taken enormous strength for you to come this far and to use that strength in seeing yourself through this.
Also, as to the fear of confronting your father and testifying in a court of law: you might want to try 'disassociating' yourself from what happened to you. That way you may feel a bit more in control of your fears and still be able to get your important points across. It's like pretending you're talking about someone else instead of yourself. The truth stays the same of course, you just feel a bit more confident telling it.
So glad you came here to share this. I'm sure others will have more to say. Meanwhile, maybe you could find a crisis group of some kind in your area that can offer you additional support during this difficult time.
Again, I admire your strength and your courage in coming forward. Use that power to move ahead and do what's right for you. You will win in the end. Bless you.

Thank you so much for those kind words. I will try practicing disassociating and use it in court, thats the most helpful thing I've heard yet. Don't get me wrong, people telling me to be strong and that their well wishes means a lot, but it's nice sometimes to get something more...well, useful. I share your daughters experience with being abused by the person you are dating. I had a very emotionally abusive and controlling ex-girlfriend. I have successfully confronted and dealt with her, those feelings, and that part of my life though. It's a relief and very freeing. I hope your daughter can experience the same relief. She deserves it, everyone does. Thank you again.
It's been my boyfriend who's posted in here before, but this is up my alley, so I'm fielding this one.

First of all, thank god you have a chance in court. I never did. All I could do was make a report, vomit up all the details I could, and go home, so I'm glad you have the opportunity to do your part in making sure he never hurts anybody else.

Court will suck. This is a given. It might help to remember exactly who and what you're doing this for: for your niece, and for whoever else may have been victimized by this man in the past or may be in the future without your involvement.

You've taken a hard path, but you're being strong. Try to fill your life with as much joyful things as possible, and try to beef yourself up for the tough dates. As for the legal process itself, I know nothing past reporting to the cops and making a statement, but if you haven't done that already, you're free to ask.

--Rogan
At the moment testifying does not seem like a blessing, but after its all over, I think I will be able to appreciate it more. Although I am sorry you haven't had your day yet, how long has it been since you went to the police? I can tell you that this stuff takes a LONG time to process and what not. I told my lawyer I wanted to testify in February of '07. It took them until September to arrest him and then my lawyer said his administrative hearing would be the week of the 26th in November.(the admin hearing is where he would plead guilty or not guilty officially). He didn't have his hearing until the beginning of Feb. So it is a long and painstakingly slow process. I made my statement after social services and the cops got involved because I told my therapist at my wilderness camp(its like a mental hospital but you hike and camp. truly sucky), but thank you so much for offering advice. And thank you for your support, it means a lot, to me strangers support means more than friends. Oh and by the way, check back with the cops in the precinct where you made the statement, sometimes they need some ushering along, or just a reminder. You may have already done this, but I had a good friend who had to tell someone that way and it took a very long time and some nudging on her part.
No, I'm fairly certain right now that my day won't be coming, unless something odd happens. That's for the simple reason that I have pretty much no evidence except a pack of therapy bills my insurance may not cover, and a mental framework that would disqualify my own testimony. I considered pressing charges, but it would cost money and mental energy that I don't have, and my chances of actually winning were very low. So I did my reporting in late December, and that was that. Thanks for the support, though. Y'never know, he might end up getting in trouble somewhere else and my old report may come up.

Damn, it DID take you a long time. (Though I'm probably crazy for thinking wilderness camp actually sounds kinda nice, but I like the outdoors.) I'm not sure there's really anything I could usher along, though. Like I said, it happened a few years ago, and there was never really any evidence of it. My parents were completely floored when I told them.

Again, good luck on your journey; it will be a fucker, but I do think it will be worth it.

--Rogan... maybe. Probably a bit of someone else too...
It seems I've come late to the advice party. That said, a very sincere welcome, and we're glad to have you here as part of our little group. I hope you find it both useful and supportive - and loving, too.

I have had to testify in court against my brother in order to get a restraining order (he was, when we were younger, incestuous) and my partner has had to testify in court also, against his abuser. So we have a little bit of experience on this matter.

Now, on to the advice, shall we?

1) Define what "successful" testimony is going to be. Too often we get in the trap of "it will only be worthwhile if someone believes me," and it can be devastating, then, if people don't. Redefine that. Tell yourself that you will have accomplished everything simply by *telling your story* and by *trying to help your niece* because THAT is what matters. What others believe is not your problem; it's their. Define success in this case as having done everything you could do.

2) During cross-examination, no matter how pushy/interrogative the questions might be, you're not required to answer at length, with any more than a few words, unless you want to (or you are advised otherwise). You are not obligated to give anything more than the most succinct answers.

3) As others have already suggested, practice beforehand. Another tip for disassociation is to think of it as telling a "story" - a true story, yes, but thinking of it as a narrative can sometimes make offering the details less daunting.

4) Bring something cherished with you to court. A pin, a bracelet, a favourite sock, whatever. Keep it with you, and look at it/touch it whenever you start to crumble.

5) Give yourself permission to crumble. It is not your job to be okay or get through this unscathed. It's okay to be afraid, upset, hurt, and angry. Don't try to be uncrackable.

6) Realise that this is part of your healing. Once this is done, it's done, and your story will have been told. What other people think does. not. matter. You acted when it was important, you're protecting someone, you are telling your story in the face of really daunting opposition.

I hope that helps, somewhat. My partner may have more to add on the issue when he posts here. But rest assured that even if you feel alone in court you have a lot of support - particularly here. Thoughts and prayers with you.

Nankurunaisa,

Ava
Thank you so so much! I had yet to talk to someone with experience, although all the support and advice was much appreciated dont get me wrong! Anyway, I have this huge need to just be validated and although I do have people who believe me, some of the most important people dont. Like my older siblings, I just want to show them that I'm not lying! It seems the only way to do that is to have dad be proved guilty in court! I fear that if he isnt then I will lose them forever! But I suppose its something I have no choice but to risk. Even if I never see my neice again and even if my older siblings don't believe me I did my part right? The rest is up to them. I'm just so...terrified of testifying. Of saying those words in front of all those people, of having my not so perfect history being drudged up and used against me. Sometimes I feel like I'm not going to be able to pull this off...
I understand the need for validation, absolutely. ...my partner keeps a stack of his requisite medical information on hand, *just* because he has a fear that people won't believe his experiences.

Perhaps your older siblings will believe you; perhaps, not. If they don't, that doesn't invalidate your experience, your story, or what you know. I know how hard it is to be alienated from family; I'm alienated from my own.

A concept that helps me a lot is this: focus on what you can control, and let everything else fall where it falls. You can tell your story. You can decide how and when and where to do that. You can't control how they respond, and you can't control those things outside of you. Beyond that point, you are not accountable for what occurs.

And please, let me tell you something: no one who is abused is perfect. There is, I think, a myth that abuse victims are these hurt and sainted people who never make mistakes, and that somehow if we do, that invalidates our pain. No. Absolutely not. There are a lot of people in this group with a lot of issues, and no one here is perfect, but that doesn't make what any of us went through any less valid. Emotional instability, substance abuse problems, self-mutilation, depression, disorders...none of that should impact your ability to say your piece. And by going ahead with this, you'll be showing people that abuse survivors are simply human, like anyone else.

I do know it's terrifying. But you will pull it off. The crux of abuse is disempowerment - having your control over yourself taken away by someone else. This is your chance to take that back, and even though it's frightening, I think ultimately, you'll be glad you did.

And remember, there are all of us here, cheering you on. ♥

(Anonymous)

You have no idea how much what you said means to me, no words can express. Thank you, again and again for your genuine kindness and support, I won't forget it. :)
You have no idea how much what you said means to me, no words can express. Thank you, again and again for your genuine kindness and support, I won't forget it. :)
hope

December 2009

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