Alice's story

Alice talks about how the Young Witness Service helped her to give evidence at the trial of the man who sexually abused her.

I was scared about what happened and didn' t know who to turn to

"I was very young when I was sexually abused by someone known to my family. Looking back, it feels like I lost my childhood.

After the abuse, I started isolating myself from my family and friends and had problems sleeping with night terrors. I used to find it difficult to concentrate in school and had problems remembering stuff. To cope I used to self-harm.

Young girl sitting on floor hugging knees

"I told my family what had happened to me when I was teenager. It took me 10 years to tell anyone what I'd been through."

I had to have an interview with the police and social services after I’d told them. The police were nice but I was scared to answer the questions – I was worried that no one would believe me."

I went through the front doors of the court as my abuser went in the back 

"The police told me that they wanted to take the case to court. I got worried as it got closer to the time. My mum got in touch with NSPCC and I was linked with the Young Witness Service.

Anne*, my key worker, came out to my house to meet me which was good.She was really cheerful when I met her. I’d been nervous about another new face - a new person coming to meet me.

She went through what was going to happen during court and said that she was trying to see if I could give evidence through a live link.

Young girl standing outside in sun, slight smileIt was all very formal and different. People using terms like “Your Honour” and it was hard to take the wigs seriously.

I wish the barrister could have listened more and didn't interrupt me when I was trying to talk. He didn't look at me; he just looked around at everyone else which made me feel paranoid. But, when he did look at me I got scared.

"It was really good to have Anne and Colleen*, my Young Witness Service volunteer, in the court waiting room to distract me. They’re the reason why I felt supported, they were really important."

Going to court and being questioned about my evidence brought all of my memories of the abuse straight back. I felt like my recovery was set straight back at the beginning again – it had a really big effect on me. 

Colleen wouldn’t let me sit on my phone and made me do something productive so we ended up playing cards. I’d have just been playing on my phone, looking through pics, making myself look occupied.

Colleen was able to sit in the corner of the live link room while I was giving evidence. It was good to have another person in the room, even though I couldn’t talk to her."