IS THIS JUSTICE?

When my husband was first arrested for domestic abuse, the relief I felt was immense. My children and I had been living in a refuge for a month, and his bail conditions meant we could live in our own home without the constant anxiety of wondering what he was going to do next. Police Scotland were amazing when I reported him, I can’t praise them highly enough. I had spent a lot of time making sure I had good evidence before going to them, as I knew it would be really hard if I had to persuade a court to believe me, but I had no idea what lay ahead, if I had I’m sure now that I would not have reported him, and we would have remained living as we were.

Both myself and my 2 eldest children were cited as witnesses in the trial, I asked the Procurator Fiscal’s office early in the process if we would be cross examined and how hard the defence would go on us. I was assured that a trial is just about finding the truth, there would be no muck-slinging. In reality, the defence agent called my son & I outright liars, said I had entrapped my husband by taping him abusing me, and blamed me for his abuse by trying to make out that I was a drug user & having an affair (I wasn’t). It was one of the most horrendous days of my life and will haunt me for a very long time, as I’m sure it will my son.

My husband was convicted of threatening and abusive behaviour against me, and the charge of assaulting our child to injury was unproven. The verdict has healed the wounds imposed by our justice system to a degree, but it was a difficult and traumatic road to get to it. At times our experience in the justice system felt worse than the abuse from my husband. We have very good domestic abuse laws in Scotland, but the system for getting a conviction is flawed and allows perpetrators to continue their behaviour in a courtroom. This needs to change before we have a justice system that deals with both survivors & perpetrators fairly.