Feeling understood helped me find courage
Diane writes about the impact of domestic violence on her life and how feeling understood and supported allowed her to find the courage to give evidence at trial.
I was the victim of a serious domestic violence assault. The police wanted to take the case to trial, but I was very nervous. The police put me in touch with Victim Support Scotland (VSS) and Jane who works in the VSS Witness Service supporting people giving evidence in court.
When I first met Jane I was pathetic, I was barely six stone. I never slept, I never ate, my hair was awful, I was just a mess.
I was so nervous about the trial and the thought of going to court was something I thought I couldn’t do.
I remember speaking to Jane and feeling that she really understood what I was going through. I knew that she was always there for me and she helped me to build my confidence up. I remember thinking I just can’t face going to court, so Jane arranged a court familiarisation visit so I could see inside a court and ask any questions. Some of my questions were ridiculous, but it was because I was so nervous. However, VSS helped me and didn’t judge me, they just made me feel really supported.
From start to finish the trial took 18 months. It was the worst time of my life and my mental health started to suffer. I had to go to court five times, as the trial kept being adjourned. It was an emotional rollercoaster and each time Jane was there to support me, sometimes working late so she could phone me.
Without her support I don’t think I’d be here. I owe her my life. I wish she could have been there in the dark hours at night-time or over the weekends, because sometimes you just feel so alone.
I couldn’t face going back to my previous job, but I started to build my life up. Jane had made me see things differently and that there was a reason to live.
I went to college, built myself up, got a degree last year, and now have the job I always wanted to do.
A few months ago, I decided I wanted to give something back. I went to see Jane to ask if I could volunteer to help VSS. When Jane saw me, I could tell she didn’t recognise me. When I started speaking she recognised my voice and said she couldn’t believe the change in me. I’ve come so far from the person who first needed Jane’s support.
The work of Victim Support Scotland really does help and I thank everyone there. But mostly I’m grateful for Jane – I owe her my life and that is true.
Victim Support Scotland is here for anyone affected by crime – whoever you are, whatever the crime. Call our helpline (0800 160 1985).