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“I wish that court does not take long, it makes a lot of difference”: rape survivor tells her story

By February 27, 2023March 3rd, 2023News, News from members, Top Story

Ahead of the European Day for Victims of Crime, and considering the publication of the Safe Justice discussion paper, Victim Support Europe launched a call for stories and testimonials from individuals who participated in a journey towards justice and are willing to share their positive experiences as well as the barriers and challenges they faced when dealing with the justice system.

Court closures, defunded legal aid and barrister shortages are adding to an already excruciating ordeal, while invasive investigations are leading many to drop proceedings altogether.

Victim Support Malta interviewed several survivors of crimes to bring to light their experiences.

They provided a few general questions that could help to focus participants’ testimonials:

  • The crime committed against the victim (what happened?).
  • How it made them feel to be a victim?
  • How was the experience when they reported the crime?
  • What barriers and challenges did they face when dealing with the justice system?
  • How did their experience with the justice system affect them in the aftermath of crime? What  worked  out  for  them  when  dealing  with  the  justice  system  and  what  could  have  been better?

Explore the survivor’s story below. The transcript is translated to English.

  How was your experience with the justice system: what type of crime did you have experience and how did you find the process?

I was working as a police officer, I am not sure if you know and there was a colleague and he, emm, because I do not like to use the work.. And I was… raped.. By my colleague.

  When did this happen?

5 years ago. It is not that long ago.. For me a lot.. Because I have been waiting to end.

  For sure… Did you report immediately?

No. Emm.. Since I was in the police force.. It was like I was scared of the person that harassed me.. He was telling me that if I spoke up, he would proceed to the board and I was brain washed and started feeling scared.. Then everything started in October 2017, then time passed and in April 2018 if I am not mistaken, I had some courage and I spoke up with a police inspector and carried out a report as I was fed up, I was tired and miserable.

  So it happened more than once?

Yes more than once. Because then.. Yes I had some courage because then there was someone else.. He was going to do the same to her.. Because she was going to speak to us.. Then.. I said ahh.. I have to speak up now because I did not want that the same thing happens to someone else you understand? To this other person… She was working with me.

  It is not easy. In general the fact that you speak about these things and that you make the step forward. Especially if it was your colleague. Also as a police officer, you  know exactly how to proceeding will look like after reporting

Right.. And that it’s a police officer is worse because its like.. We are suppose to make people feel safe.. Suppose.. And it happened at the work place.

  That’s right… How was your superior’s reaction?

He was angry.. At least he helped me.. Truly he was very helpful – I have nothing to grumble about, I would be lying. I had support.

  Good. And did you file an official report?

No because my colleagues could have seen the report, as they were in the police force. The report was under another file: not like other people where they file a report and it is seen by all people from Malta and Gozo. Mine was a little anonymous.. How I am going to explain it.. Not to be seen by other police you understand? It was under a file on its own.

  Ok and was the trial open? In court?

Yes and he was arrested the day after if I’m not mistaken because I had to give a statement and the day after he was arrested and then he was taken to court and I was going to witness. Then he was taken to Mount Carmel because he was stating that he was not feeling fine. Although it was not true; anyway everyone seems to do this. I am against it. Then he was out with bail. And his bail, he didn’t have to sign every day.. Twice a week, he was already a police officer that did something wrong so he had to sign bail twice a week but whatever.

  Ok so it was not every day?

No it was meaningless, meaningless but whatever this is my opinion.

  How did the case go?

Then people had to witness because there was a hearing. I am not sure when it happened because I did not attend.. I attended once to witness.. Then the case is proceeding under judiciary next March.

  Is the case still ongoing?

Yes yes next March it will end suppose.

  You will be experiencing this for five years?

5 years experiencing…

  How was your experience with court till now?

It’s very long there were no reasons why they had to.. But it’s not only my case, every case takes very long. I feel that they let so many years pass. If it (the case) ends quickly it’s better for the victim. Because you will be over thinking every day… thinking thinking thinking.. What is going to happen and what’s not.. It’s like you have these 5 years of your life and you cannot close this thing now.

  No. The wound is still open and every day it’s like you are waiting for it to maybe close.

Exactly.. I still feel the need to rest one day but I am not going to rest. I want this case to close and say that it has passed. However, it is not going to pass as I will still remember it but I will say that I rested little.

  That’s right and you are still a police officer?

No I am not, I am not.. I was sad.. I am not, even when I used to wear the uniform, I was bored and I was starting to remember.. I was fed up..

Did you feel some aspects in the justice system could be improved?

If the case would have ended, from the court, I would not have to wait, because that is the thing: the waiting is long. Also, I have to witness again and I have already given my statement, that’s another thing.

  You have to go again?

Yes I have to testify again as it is a jurisdictional case.. When a victim has to witness again when she has already gave her statement the first time, it’s like you open her wound again.. Another example is that I couldn’t testify on other reports of work that I had before, as I was still waiting to go inside.. And I feel frustrated as I will think about it again.. What happened on that day.

  Of course.. And were there any positive aspects in your experience of this process, were things that you felt that were good?

Hmm… on the day I reported, I felt like I was not going to experience the same thing with that person, you feel secure, you understand? Then again it’s like.. You will feel the consequences of what happened to you at a later stage. After you speak, you can rest. If not, you feel more tired and then you might get a depression you understand?

  Yes yes. And how did you feel as a victim?

You do not expect it, and in my position (in my work) even less. You do not expect it but

everyone can experience these things, you see it happened to me.

  How did the crime affect you as a person?

That’s a lot.. Understand me, now it is not that bad because it’s now..  still I feel it.. But in the beginning I was afraid to go out, I was not going out in the beginning, for real, I was scared to drive, as I felt that he would drive after me, I imagined that. Now it’s not that I’m over it, I am never going to get over it, but as time goes by it gets better. But now that we are close to the case I feel anxious again and I feel panic. It’s like I am scared and I think about the same things, its like I cannot live my life in peace.

  Were you granted with protection?

Now I have a protection that he cannot come near me and luckily he didn’t contact me anymore.

  You were told me before that you found help with the inspector to whom you reported the case.

Yes but then… I did not find help, as I felt that I was accused because my statement was taken from a lawyer but whatever.

  Ok and you were interrogated with many questions you said?

Yes, I was questioned and I need to say.. The officer that was working with me is now promoted as inspector, but he had a domestic violence case. He was working in the same shift as mine, and today he was promoted as inspector, but he has a domestic violence case with his ex wife.

  And I assume that the police know since you knew this?

Yes yes yes for sure they know, but they need push.. The police.. They have to arrange their things.

  Do you have a message that you would like to forward about your experience?

Yes I wish that court does not take long, it makes a lot of difference, it does not take long, that’s what I want. And I wish that people would not feel scared to speak up because there are people that are scared.

  Yes, there are people that stay back.. Because how the system is.. Thank you so much for the interview!

Thank you.

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