Sexual abuse victims need our help

(17 Posts)
clairecoo Fri 10-May-13 10:52:48

I wanted to share my story with you all in hope that some of you may wish to support this cause. Here's my page Positive Changes For Abuse Victims but most importantly here's the PETITION

In February 2011 my world came crashing down when I was told that my stepdaughter (who has lived with me and her dad from the age of 3) had been sexually abused by her mothers ex-husband from as young as 3 until he left his wife when my daughter was 11. I can't begin to describe what my daughter, me and my family went through in the months that followed but it's fair to say it was hell.

At the time of the disclosure we phoned the police, they video interviewed my daughter and started their investigation. The perpetrator was arrested, charged with 16 counts relating to the abuse, and bailed.

18 long months later we went to court and after 3 days of anxious waiting we were told that the trial was to be adjourned because the defence barrister said there was information missing from his statement.

4 months later we were back in court. One week before my daughter's 17th birthday. She gave evidence via video link- she was cross examined by the defence barrister who suggested she was lying. She was so incredibly brave and yet she was made to feel like she was in the wrong. Due to it being her word against his the jury could not convict. The perpetrator now thinks they decided he is innocent rather than there being a tiny doubt due to lack of evidence.

I have had to watch my daughter go through the darkest time of her life; suffering from anxiety, depression, panic attacks and self harming. We couldn't access therapy for her when she needed it the most because it could've been used against her during the trial by the defence… and all this was for nothing. I cannot tell you how hard it was for me when she told me that she wishes she'd never told, and that she'd never advise someone who has gone through a similar experience to tell.

The aim my page and petition (links above) is to request a debate by the House of Commons regarding an overhaul of the court process and investigation into the impact and treatment of victims during child sexual abuse cases.

As a social worker, I see only too often the devastation that unresolved issues
caused by sexual abuse causes; alcohol dependency, substance misuse, self-harming, inappropriate and self-destructive relationships. I want to take steps to ensure the government and the justice system support these individuals rather than add to their problems.

100,000 signatures is a lot, there’s no denying that, but it is achievable. Every signature and every share of the petition is a move closer to the target. I am looking into other ways or publicising the cause and if anyone has
any ideas, however small, I’d be incredible grateful if you could message me.

Thank you so much for reading and signing.

jynier Fri 10-May-13 22:35:02

Hi, Claire! Signed and shared earlier today. Best wishes, x

RedHelenB Sat 11-May-13 05:24:18

I do sympathise but what exactly do you want to happen with the courts?

clairecoo Sat 11-May-13 08:37:24

Thanks Jynier, much appreciated. smile

clairecoo Sat 11-May-13 08:56:29

Hi RedHelenB.

Firstly 95 weeks is a totally unacceptable length of time for a child (or anyone) to wait for a trial.

Secondly I had zero evidence that anyone involved in this case was prioritising the welfare of the child… no one spoke to my daughter or sent her any information regarding processes etc, no once checked to see how she was coping or recommend and additional support.

Thirdly she was not able to access the therapeutic treatment she desperately needed as the courts could not give assurances that this would not be used by the defence.

Lastly (of the main points anyway), the Crown Prosecution Service allows child abuse cases to be taken to trial, yet so few result in convictions- it's like it doesn't matter about the further ordeal the child or young person is being put through during court. I feel it needs to be looked into in terms of why conviction rates are so low so adjustments can be made either in the process of by the CPS not taking the cases to trial.

I'm a social worker and my family is very supportive. My fear is for victims who aren't as lucky as my daughter was and the impact upon them both at the time and in the future.

RedHelenB Sat 11-May-13 14:17:35

I can't see what the petition will achieve though - unless things go to trial then it is carte blanche for anyone to act in this way with no sanction from the law BUT to balance that you do need to have a fair trail, innocent till proven guilty. I do feel so sorry for your stepdaughter though & hope she is now getting the help she needs.

themidwife Mon 13-May-13 07:13:19

I have signed petition & shared on Facebook thanks

clairecoo Wed 15-May-13 07:21:32

Thank you so much the midwife! smile

tiredemma Wed 15-May-13 07:26:27

I've signed

clairecoo Thu 16-May-13 17:08:20

Thanks. I really appreciate it.

jynier Tue 11-Jun-13 15:29:39

Such good news today claire about vulnerable witnesses!

fuckingscabies Tue 11-Jun-13 15:54:00

Has your daughter waived her right to anonymity because you have totally outed her here which is illegal.

If she is over 18 and has waived her right, fine. If not, you could face prosecution and get your name put on the sex offenders register for disclosing the name of a sex offence victim.

I'm going to report this to MNhq just in case.

fuckingscabies Tue 11-Jun-13 15:58:09

By 'disclosing the name of' I mean identifying her with the details.

scabies she is unlikely to have started the peitition/thread without discussing it first. hmm

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Tue 11-Jun-13 16:50:03

Signed Claire. It's a very worthy cause.

Flowersandfaff Tue 11-Jun-13 23:07:27

I signed this ages ago, just bumping for the night time crowd!

It's a hugely worthy cause, I hope that if it gets enough signatures and can be considered, it will at least raise the profile of the victims of sex crimes, particularly children.

I can't help but feel there is something intrinsically wrong with our justice system when conviction rates are so low.

flowers

jynier Wed 09-Jul-14 01:37:15

How did this work out, Claire? I am sorry that there was such an appalling lack of response.

Had faith in MN. Sadly, very misplaced.

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