After Reporting Non-Recent Abuse: A Personal Journey Pt 4
No Further Action: The impact of being told that there isn’t enough evidence to peruse the case.
Research suggests that something like only 5% of reports of historical abuse ever make it to court and then a conviction rate of around 50% means that when reporting historic abuse to the police you really do need to set your expectations correspondingly low.
I knew this when I went to the police and reported what had happened to me. I knew that given the time that had passed, the lack of corroborating evidence and my limited memory the chances of my report going anywhere were exceedingly low. I had, I believed prepared my self for the inevitable.
I told myself that getting a prosecution wasn’t the main reason for disclosing, which in truth it wasn’t. I repeatedly told myself, before and after the disclosure that nothing would come of it and not to expect anything other than to be heard. This was about me formally acknowledging to myself and the world the truth of what had been done to me and the impact it had had. It wasn’t about vengeance, justice, retribution or even preventing further abuse taking place.
The police them selves never made any promises or raised expectations. The promised to take my disclosure seriously and to investigate fully but did say hat the nature of non recent abuse and my case in particular made the investigation, and obtaining sufficient evidence, difficult.
Then one afternoon, at work, I received a phone call from the investigating officer. He informed me that they had investigated and after talking to his superior had decided that there was not enough evidence to take it any further. This was a decision made by the police, it was not even felt necessary to refer the case to the CPS for advice.
OK I was expecting this, so a little disappointment, maybe some regret at going to the police and putting my self through it but that would be all? Right?
Well no, not right. Very wrong in fact.
It took a couple of days to hit, which in a way made things worse, I thought I had managed the situation rather well, thought maybe it was a sign I was dealing with what had happened to me a little better. And then bang the thoughts, feelings and everything I have learnt to expect when an emotional storm hits me did exactly that. Hit me.
I felt that I had been abandoned again, A single phone call, I was not worth either the case being perused or a more ‘hands on’ way of telling me the decision. I felt I was being kicked out to fend for my self. To deal with the continuing fallout from the abuse as well as the new inevitable fallout from family who now know I made the allegation.
There was also a feeling of betrayal. I had opened my soul and told the police things I have never before, or since, told anybody. They had taken that faith and trust and thrown it back at me.
And over all this was the feeling that I was not believed. But it was more than just feeling they didn’t believe me, it reinforced all the feelings of self doubt and blame that have been sitting there for ever. It reinforced the ever-present feeling that my memories aren’t, cant be, true. How could a mother do such a thing? I must be bad, evil, for having these memories and even worse for taking them to the police. She must have been innocent despite what I know happened, despite the memories she must have been because why else would the police drop the case?
Now yes, I know that the Police can only go with the evidence that’s there, but still knowing that hasn’t made the hours, days and weeks since being told any easier.
I don’t regret going to the police, it was something I needed to do for a number of reasons, but dealing with the consequences is proving to be significantly more difficult that I had expected, or prepared for.
it’s normal that you would feel bad after such a thing. So often things about us rub the wounds we have from abuse. These wounds are real, and debilitating. It’s normal that this process triggers the bad feelings, that you had instilled in you. Also I think that when the bad feelings blow over, you will feel better for what you have done. Another step in the healing process. Do bear in mind that apart from the personal aspect, which to be frank is painful, what you have done helps other survivors, current victims, and helps avoid future victims.