Why I Reported Non-Recent Abuse to the Police

While there is a lot of talk, and I hope action, around detecting abuse so that it can be stopped and the child given help and protection there is less understanding of why adults don’t report abuse to the police once they are adults.

Some recent statistics from the British Crime survey suggest that the top reasons adults don’t disclose, and make formal complaints to the police, is embarrassment and thinking that they either wouldn’t be believed and / or that the police wouldn’t do anything about it. [1]

These reasons are certainly high on my list but there are others that are as difficult for me to deal with.

Possibly top is fear. Fear that my abuser, a family member, will react negatively to it and punish me. Even though I have no contact with the person, know that there is nothing left that they can do to hurt me and they already know I have talked to Social Services about it that fear is still there.

The problem is that the fear, introduced as part of the abuse and subsequent control, is so deep, so much part of me and my understanding of what it is to be me that I can just let it go.

Fear also plays a part in the feelings I have that nothing will come of my reporting it apart from the police either deciding I’m lying or will investigate and find nothing to support my story and take no further action. Either way it will destroy my, limited and hard fought for, belief in myself. How can I continue to believe in my memory if the police reject it?

SO why even consider reporting the abuse to the police?

Yes I know all the arguments about sending a message to other abusers and protection of other children and even the moral duty to report such offences, but they really don’t do much for me to be fair. The reasons, mentioned above, are simply too strong for them to gain any traction despite feeling that I have nothing left in my life that I could lose. So again, I ask myself why report to the police?

Well there are a number of reasons, some more important than others.

Firstly, it is an act of faith, faith in myself and in my memories. How can I ask myself to believe the memory, to believe that what happened really did happen and that I am not the bad person making up such memories would make me if I am not willing to stand up for those memories?

It is also an attempt at freedom. Freedom form my abuser still controlling me just as the child was controlled through fear. If I can do this, even if nothing comes from it, it will be a step. A step away from the control, away from the fear. A step on a path of respect for myself.

But lastly, and most importantly, it is in a way, a test. A test of me, of who I believe myself to be.

I have this vision of a ‘perfect’ me. A vision of a warrior standing atop a hill in the pre-dawn light looking down at the enemy army arrayed in fount of him. Knowing that in the battle to come he may lose and in losing fall never to rise.

But knowing this he stands and does not waver. He stands and will fight. He stands alone if he must. He stands knowing what may become of him.

So the question for me is Can I stand?

 

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/abuseduringchildhood/findingsfromtheyearendingmarch2016crimesurveyforenglandandwales

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