Learning to Live Again

That e mail was a big shock to me, when I investigated further into M’s release I was apologised to by the prison authorities for them missing protocol on my case. That was helpful in no way at all. My trust in the court and prison system was waning.

I stuck by my decision to get on with it and to push M out of my mind. Nothing had changed with my happy content life all the amazing loving people who had helped me to be alive again were still there and were still helping me.

So I tried to balance my fear of another attack with my life as I wanted it. I was still cautious online and still off of social media. W knew about M but not in detail so I tried to shield him from my panic as best I could.

I went back to changing passwords frequently and I was a wary of my surroundings again, but it was better than before, like I have said I was not the same girl I had more to loose and to live for and I had beaten this once already.

So time went on and gradually I fell into my routine again, I was getting on with it. But secretly I still worried that M would strike again, he knew where my mum’s house is and he knew I would be there at Christmas.

It seemed obvious to me that if he was going to do anything it would be then, I didn’t tell anyone and instead I smiled and laughed as though everything was normal and safe.

Christmas Eve came and I left London for Essex, the whole time I was driving I checked to see if I was being followed. When I arrived safely without a tail, I breathed a sigh of relief.

I was spending 3 days at my mums and then driving to W’s mum’s house to stay with his family for a few days. So I had lots of family Christmas time to look forward to and enjoy. I should be happy I love Christmas, but I was on edge.

I looked out the window at 1am, 2.35am and 3am on Christmas morning, scared I would see M standing across the road, or my car on fire since last time he only got as far as pouring petrol on it.

I feel into a restless sleep at about 3.20am and awoke again to the early morning light, I rushed to the window but everything seemed normal.

I tried to mentally shake myself, it was ok. I was safe I was in the house, my Mum had already told me the police had told them to dial 999 if anything happened concerning M and a 999 call from their address would trigger a report- they would know exactly what was going on straight away.

Christmas day and Boxing Day passed without any M incidents. I slowly relaxed and let most of my fears go.

On the 27th I packed my bag and said goodbye to my Mum, as I hugged her she whispered to me,

‘I thought he might try to ruin this for you, I am so happy it was just us.’

My Mum had been on edge the whole time too.

I hated that he could still have this impact on me but more so on my family. The depth of his abuse seemed bottomless and I wondered if I could be truly happy and safe when M wasn’t behind bars?

C xo

©2015 C xo

My Late Birthday ‘Gift’

Summer was drawing to a close, but I was still merrily enjoying my freedom. I had had a lot of fun with my friends and W since May and I was looking forward to cosy Sunday afternoons in the pub and playing board games and my birthday now.

I happily introduced W to my brother at my birthday meal and they got on like a house on fire. So much so they switched seats so that us ladies weren’t in the way! Despite W having already brought me my new phone 5 weeks earlier he surprised me with a box of macaroons from my favourite shop in Covent Garden.

That was lovely but gosh it’s hard to be good when you’re having so much fun! I had enjoyed myself a lot and not kept up with my fitness and I could see my happy content in a relationship tummy, it wasn’t welcome!

So I set about trying to be better and W did too.

Then came a very surprising invite, we were invited to the wedding of one of W’s school friends up in Norfolk. Which was very nice, but very unexpected especially since I was named!

It also meant meeting his mum and staying at her house for the weekend! Oh my! Well I wasn’t going to turn that down so off we went and she was lovely.

You might remember me referring to M’s mum as a battle-axe; well W’s mum couldn’t be more different. She made me feel very welcome in her home and I instantly liked her. Besides I got the chance to see pictures of W as a child and a teenager in the many pictures that adorned her walls.

His friend’s wedding was a lot of fun. It was nice to get dressed up together and dance, also by now I was used to W snapping pictures of me and us all the time. At first it was a little odd to me. M had never wanted pictures taken, of course I know why now- he had other girlfriends.

But W took pictures all the time, that weekend was no exception and we now had some really nice pictures of us all smart and loved up. I was so content it was unreal.

Then in mid-October I got an email from R, my case officer. I hadn’t heard from him since I sent my thank you note, and as nice and amazing as he was to me I had hoped I wouldn’t need to be in contact again.

So it was with a heavy heart that I opened the e mail, he was writing to ask if I was aware that M had been released from prison.

My heart dropped and my head felt dizzy, I sat down with a bump, M was free?

I hurriedly read on, R explained that he had just found out that M was released on the 19th August and that a judge had taken all the time he had worn an anklet and had a curfew into account and put that towards his sentence.

I was finding it hard to breathe, this couldn’t be true, how could he be free already? And how could I not have been told? The courts had told me I would have 2 weeks warning of his release but here I was 2 months down the line finding out by chance from my old case officer!

I looked around my room and suddenly my home didn’t feel as safe, I had been wondering around without a care for the last few months and I had stopped looking over my shoulder. Stopped changing passwords weekly and god knows what other things I had done thinking I wasn’t at risk from M hurting me again.

I struggled to get my breathing under control, and tried to think straight. I hadn’t gotten any emails and I hadn’t seen him. He still didn’t know my new name or where I work or where I live.

I repeated those facts in my head again and again until I could feel my chest loosen.

I had to find a way to be ok with this, it was way before I had thought I would need to but I wasn’t about to let M ruin my life. I had come so far since that day I stood up in court and I wasn’t the girl who had let M hit her anymore.

I was strong now, I was in shock, but I could do this. I had to do this, it was my life and he wasn’t going to take it from me again.

C xo

©2015 C xo

Stronger Now

I could clearly remember how I felt during every step of my journey, the pain, the stress, the fear, the loneliness, the feeling of hopelessness and my relief when I heard M was in prison.

It was all there in my head and I knew it would stay there and it was important not to forget, I didn’t want to make the same mistake again.

M might be one of a few but there were other men like him out there and I knew what to look for I knew the signs now and that was an important thing for me to keep.

With M in jail I had grown a lot and become more confident and outgoing, I had run a marathon to beat back my stress of the trial and I had built a new life for myself. I felt stronger than ever before.

But I also could see the impact this had had on my family and friends. My mum was with me every step of the way on the phone or in person and that stress had been awful.

At the time I had found it hard to talk about the jumble of feelings in my head, to explain the fear and to share my grief with anyone.

There must be thousands of women just like me out there, and maybe they haven’t found their own inner strength yet. So I decided to write my story down and see if I could get it published.

Maybe reading what happened to me and the positive end may help another victim of abuse and stalking or help someone understand what it is like for their friend or loved one to go through this.

Now I am no writer so I wasn’t confident enough to put pen to paper myself, after a little digging I found an agency that puts stories forward to magazines and I contacted them.

I was reassured that I wouldn’t have to give any of my current contact details to any publications and I spent an afternoon telling my story.

I was amazed when it was picked up by two magazines- Take a Break and Cosmopolitan! I thought of how many stories I had read in magazines that I had related to or shown to a friend in the past.

I scared to be putting myself out there but it seemed fate was gunning for it, revenge porn crimes was making headlines and was big news and as you will know M put images of me into the public 3 times without my consent and he still has those images, I had to live with that and hope that my restraining order which prevents him from owning images of me was enough of a deterrent this time.

The stories would both come out in late October or Early November, which to me seemed ages away, I was happily enjoying the gorgeous August sunshine!

I was aware there was a risk of M reading the articles, but I had been very careful not to reveal any current details about myself and the magazines didn’t know my real name.

A small part of me thought that if M did read them then maybe hearing it in that way, seeing it in print might stop him from doing anything more when he was released. I was acutely aware that his time in prison and my feeling of safety was not permeant and that it would end.

I didn’t want to think about that yet, it was far off and I had plenty to enjoy and to do before that day dawned.

Starting with a photoshoot! This was an unexpected bonus; I had supplied the only images I could find of myself with M for the stories and a me now photo (M knows what I look like that hasn’t changed!). I had to dig through old cd’s of images boxed in my nana’s garage to find any since I had burned everything else.

So when Cosmopolitan requested I do a photoshoot I was surprised and nervous and excited because ohhhh hair and make-up!

Ladies it was as fun as it sounds having a professional make artist, who as she does your face talks with the photographer about the shoot they did last week with Florence and the machine!

They even brought clothes and shoes for me! It was a lot of fun playing dress up, the photoshoot itself was a little less fun. I was nervous and I wasn’t supposed to look happy.

My default camera pose is a huge smile, so trying to look sad and thoughtful on request was really hard. I ended up trying to do difficult sums in my head.

I would have to wait for the resulting pictures, I was glad I had done it. I had stood up tall and told my story and I was proud to be where I was now, it wasn’t easy to pull myself out of the darkness M had created for me.

But I had I was still here and it was me that was standing out in the sunshine enjoying life. M was in a prison cell and that was his own doing.

C xo

©2015 C xo

Being Happy

As the summer went on I fell into a happy routine of work and spending time with W. It was simple and easy and a lot of fun.

My life felt so far removed from all that had happened over the last 7 years. It was as though I had woken from an awful nightmare only to find that the world was a bright safe place and that my fears were no longer valid.

M was locked away in a prison and would be for a good while. I understood that as he wasn’t in for a ‘serious crime’ it was unlikely that he would serve the whole of his sentence and that some of the time he spent in remand during the investigation would also be taken into account.

Even with all of that my case officer felt sure M would be locked up for about a year, for me a year seemed way too little for his crimes but at the same time a year was a long time to build my life again and to enjoy it.

And that was exactly what I planned to do.

I had always loved summer anyway, the long days; the hot weather, well sometimes hot weather and the lead up to my birthday at the end of it were all good things. Plus you can wear cute summer dresses and lounge in parks people watching or reading for an afternoon, which in London Is always interesting!

K and I had brought tickets to a music festival months ago and pretty soon it was only a week and a half away! I was super excited The Killers were one of the headliners and I loved them, especially live!

Things were still going strong with W, we spent most of our free time together and then he asked me to meet his sister. I was so chuffed. I was in a normal relationship one that I could tell my friends about and smile about!

W’s sister was lovely and we had a very fun night out with her and her other half, sadly my phone took a swim in some Pimms and didn’t make it past that night.

It wasn’t all bad, that night W asked me to be his girlfriend officially, it was really sweet. No one has ever really said that to me it’s just sort of we went on some dates and then we were. But W had other ideas; he wanted to make us an official couple.

I said yes.

I was gutted about my phone though and then the next day realised I hadn’t updated my phone insurance. So I would have to wait to get a new phone come pay day at the end of Aug. My phone provider had loaned me a handset to tide me over which meant I wasn’t completely cut off but OMG it was like being in the dark ages!

Text and calls only, I wouldn’t have been surprised if snake was the game on that handset! I was plunged backwards in time and felt a little lost without my I phone! I then realised I wouldn’t be able to take videos or photos at the festival.

Not great but then having a can of pimms in your handbag along with your expensive phone and then sitting on it isn’t the best plan!

Oh well I would enjoy it the old fashioned way with a disposable camera! He he

Then I found out just how lovely, thoughtful, sweet and extremely generous my new man was. He surprised me with an early birthday present- a new phone. He even wrapped it beautifully with a blue ribbon (my fav colour).

It was such a surprise I couldn’t believe he would do this for me! He said he didn’t want me to miss out on any memories at the festival.

I think I smiled for a week it wasn’t so much the extravagance which was still so incredible but the thoughtfulness that got me, it was a pay as you go handset and he had already requested the unlock, so I would be able to carry on on my contract! He had even put credit on it!

I had actually found a decent guy! Which is part of the reason I ended up sending W a video of me in the crowd and dancing and laughing (sober) saying I love you at the end without even realising I had said it. He clocked it instantly and teased me mercifully for weeks but with a massive smile on his face before relenting and saying the words back to me.

C xo

©2015 C xo

The 1st Date…

So I rushed home, showered, put on make-up and my new dress- and flats just in case. His profile said he was 6’1 but well you never know! Besides the flats were pretty jewelled sandals that I had brought on holiday and the blue stones matched my blue dress perfectly.

Now I just had to get from my home to Waterloo without sweating and looking like I was half melting!

Off I went taking my time getting to the tube station and standing by the open window at the front of the carriage to keep as cool as possible, then there I was standing on the concourse in Waterloo station, one of the busiest in London on a Friday night not wearing my glasses.

I need my glasses to see, without them everything is very soft focus a little like being hammered, but vanity had prevailed and I wasn’t wearing them which meant that I was at a big disadvantage in spotting my date!

As it turns out he walked right past me, looking at me smiling in recognition and I didn’t realise! Laughing he touched my arm and that was the first time I saw W in person.

He had a great cheeky smile, and he was lovely and tall and the butterflies in my tummy were fluttering around like nutters at the sight of him. (I can see close up, and he was as hot as his pictures!)

He took my hand and led me out of the station and we got a couple of cold bottles of cider and started walking slowly down the south bank. The breeze from the river was gorgeously cool and the sun was glittering across the river it was the perfect summers evening. We walked along the bank and talked both smiling and glancing shyly at each other.

He was just as easy to talk to in person as he had been before on the phone, we laughed and enjoyed the bustling atmosphere of the eccentric street artists- most notably a rather good Michael Jackson impersonator.

Then when our bottles were empty we headed into a pub to seek out refreshments. Two pubs later we were seated talking intently and I thought how happy I was, this was easy and I was having the best time. Then he leaned in and kissed me.

It was an incredible first kiss, no awkwardness just lovely. My happy grin was firmly in place and the night just carried on in a whirl of kisses, walking hand I hand along the river bank and a few more drinks. I honestly didn’t want it to end, I was having such a great time, we stayed out late and walked and walked.

I didn’t think I would find this especially not online! It was the best date I had ever been on and it was all so simple. No tricks, no illusions, no grandeur. Just an undeniable connection, fun and easy conversation.

We meet up the next day and the day after that and I was happier than I have ever felt. I was relaxed, comfortable and definitely falling in lust with W. Happily he was doing the same with me.

I met his friends, and they were all fun and welcoming, his dog was as cute in real life as his photo and before long we were spending lazy Sunday afternoons lying by the canal watch D chase squirrels and make friends with anyone who went within 5 ft. of his happy wagging tail.

My summer was turning out to be truly awesome, W was a big part of that and then he invited me to meet his sister. We had been seeing each other for just a few weeks. I felt so special and happily agreed.

With M I had always felt so secluded and isolated away from the world, his friends and family. He had rarely introduced me to anyone or included me on nights out with his friends.

W was open, caring and everything M couldn’t or didn’t want to be for me.

I was happy, I had a good job, amazing friends and family, it was summer and I was dating a really fantastic boy!

C xo

©2015 C xo

Holidays, Sun & Fun

Despite my bad date the good feeling continued and as the weather and the sun grew warmer, I enjoyed nights out with friends, had another crap date, but was able to laugh it off and be happy being me.

It had been a long time since I had concentrated on enjoying life and it was thanks to all the hard work by R that I know felt safe enough to be happy and to enjoy everything.

So I decided to write his manager a letter to highlight how much his hard work and dedication over 14 months meant to me and my family, it turned out that my mum felt the same as she and my step dad did the same thing!

I was back to sleeping 8 hours a night which meant I had boundless energy during the day and I was much better at work. I did still get nightmares, everything that had happened was still with me and I don’t think it will ever truly leave, it’s like a mark.

But I could live with that, I had made it through I was still me and actually I was stronger for it.

My holiday soon came around and I flew out to a hot sun Greek island with K and K. It was a typical girls holiday and I lay in the sun, frolicked in the sea, drank wonderful and some not so wonderful cocktails, got a tan and felt pretty relaxed.

It wasn’t perfect , it was a cheap holiday and I have to admit I felt a little bit old for certain things- but I didn’t have a lot of money and honestly being on a beach with nothing to worry about other than what to eat for lunch was wonderful.

I had had to learn how to relax again, which sounds silly. But I had been on hyper alert for the past 2 years, looking over my shoulder, jumping at sounds, checking locks and panicking when my phone rang.

My summer helped, soon I was back in the UK it was only mid-June but I had a kick ass tan and I jumped back into the dating world.

I waded through all the’ hey babes’ and ‘send us a picture ;-)’ and just when I was thinking that maybe I wouldn’t find my soul mate on line rather a bunch of idiots who couldn’t hold a decent conversation.

Then I saw a profile that intrigued me and I messaged him. I waited excitedly and found myself checking my app for any new messages only to see a few more ‘hey babes!’ Then 4 days later he replied and unbelievably I found someone who I could really talk to. (He had been suffering from a post Glastonbury cold, which was why there was a delay in responding!)

We got on straight away and very quickly moved onto what’s app and texting and we spent a week sending messages back and forth for most of the hours of the day. He was intelligent, funny and if he looked like his pictures hot!

He had a very cute dog and sent me silly pictures of him with his dog in the park or the pub. Due to a cruel scheduling we were unable to meet for 9 days and by then over 1,500 messages had flown between us!

I had even told him- in very brief overview esk terms about M. I liked this guy and I didn’t want to scare him off but I thought it was best to be honest and upfront with him rather than drop a bomb later down the line, he already thought it a little odd that I wasn’t on any social media.

His reaction was amazing, he simply said,

‘You don’t get past 30 without a little baggage. It doesn’t bother me’

I got butterflies every time my phone beeped now! Which was hard to believe, as just 4 short months ago I was still a nervous wreck!

I spent hours trying on dresses, wanting to look perfect for him. Our date was on Friday night, we were meeting on the South bank and the weather was scorching at the moment since it was mid-July.

I ended up ordering 4 dresses on ASOS on Wednesday in a panic, that none of my dresses were pretty enough! I rushed home on Thursday anxious to try them on. This was full on teenager date nerves and it felt fantastic.

I was walking around with the biggest grin on my face, and I hadn’t even met the guy in person yet!

Friday dawned blue skies and sunny and all day at work I clock watched for a good reason and as soon as 4.30 came I was out the door rushing home to doll myself up!

C xo

©2015 C xo

Worst Date Ever!

The internet dating thing isn’t easy and there is a lot of guys out there looking for just one thing, but they are easy to spot and well quite frankly avoid! I was looking for a nice guy to date and to see what happens.

A profile is a tricky thing, and sometimes what sounds good on screen doesn’t quite make it to real life. I meet a guy who was a Tennis coach to kids- which appealed to me as he was clearly sporty but also worked with kids. How could that be bad?

I was trying to be open minded about things, one of them being my ideal height for a guy- over 6ft. Being tall myself this had always been important but I was 31, single and it wasn’t easy to meet guys. Not being tall doesn’t make you a bad person.

So tennis guy was 5’10 that was still taller than me, I decided to give him a chance and to wear flats on the date, which was out of London in the countryside.

I caught the train and found myself at a pretty village train station on a warm evening, I had nervous butterflies. Then I saw him he was leaning against a lime green car with tinted windows and there was no way he was 5’10.

5’7 maybe (which is shorter than me fyi) Oh dear, ok C be nice, being short doesn’t make you a bad person- but that car is terrible!

He asked me if I fancied a drink in a country pub in the beer garden, well that sounded good, but as I looked at him I realised he looked nothing like his pictures either and my heart sank, then I told myself not to be so mean and to give a guy a chance.

We drove around the country lanes like we were in a rally car, it was terrifying but at last 15 mins later we pulled into a pub car park, he was just about to pull into a space when he stopped the car,

‘Oh no, she is here’

‘Um, who?’

‘I had a fight with her at the tennis club yesterday, it was a dozy, and I think its better we go to another pub!’

With that he pulled the car round and exited the pub car park in a cloud of dust and the country lanes whizzed by the window in a blur, we pulled up to pub number 2 and once again he surveyed the car park and found an issue-

‘It looks, really busy! Never mind there is another pub I know just 10 minutes away.’

And off we went again, 5 minutes later we pulled into a large empty car park which he seemed to have no issues with and in we went.

The pub was empty we were the only customers and it didn’t have a garden so we sat inside. We chatted away and within 5 minutes he was telling me about how he had thrown up over his last girlfriend when she had cooked for him, he had a knack for detail and I soon felt a little queasy myself.

The ex-talk didn’t stop there, he thought it would be a good idea to list in order all the dates he had had from the online site and the other 6 he was on.

Then he apologised for his face.

Yes you read that correctly, I had noticed his skin looked a little less than smooth but wouldn’t have mentioned it. He went on to explain that he had been suffering from Impetigo which was a highly contagious skin infection that causes sores and blisters.

I tried not to, but I actually backed away a bit, I mean why would you tell a date that?

After that I couldn’t stop looking at his face and the uneven bits.

I felt really uncomfortable, and I couldn’t wait to leave. Which granted was mean but eeewwwwww!!!!!

So finally thanks to the country location it was time to head back to the station, so I could catch the train back into London.

We got into the car, and I was bucked my belt, turning back round to face him I found that he had stripped off his t shirt and he said with no hint of irony or a joke,

‘You came all this way; I thought you deserved a treat! Want to get onto the back seat?’

Then he lunged across and stuck his tongue down my throat. I pushed him off and politely declined his offer and reminded him of my train time.

He tried for 5 minutes further to persuade me onto his back seat and in the end I had to say point blank,

‘Look, I’m sorry I don’t fancy you and I honestly don’t think I want to see you again. Are you going to take me back to the station? Because if not I am going into the pub to order a cab!’

He shrugged and gunned the engine and drove me back to the station the whole time saying what a great kiss that had been and was I sure I didn’t want more?

Yes I was quite sure, and yes I got into the shower as soon as I got home.

C xo

©2015 C xo

My New Life

I woke up the next morning and realised everything had changed, I felt safe. I knew M was in prison and suddenly I could go outside and walk along without any fear.

I laughed and smiled as I jumped out of bed, my life suddenly felt more colourful and the possibilities now were endless. I could move on from this and be happy.

M was where he belonged, where he deserved to be and I was free.

Finally after 7 years, I was rid of M.

I smiled, laughed and was happier than I had felt in a long time. I had a girl’s holiday planned in June to look forward to and I felt great because of all the running. I also started a profile on an online dating website and was enjoying flirting with new guys for the first time in ages and not having to panic that M had somehow found me.

My family and friends all noticed the difference in me, and many commented it was like having the old C back, and they were happy for me.

I started talking to a guy who seemed different to most of the guys I had spoken to- mainly because he didn’t just ask for ‘pictures’!

Yeah because I was going to do that ever again- I think not!

He didn’t know about my past, and I felt like a whole new person, we talked for a few weeks and then he asked me out. I was scared, nervous and happy and I agreed to a drink.

This was a big step for me, meeting new people wasn’t easy and trusting a guy was even harder. I knew that very few people were like M, and I also knew now what to look out for.

We meet up and he was everything I could want in a guy, courteous, sweet, polite, and charming, he opened doors for me and was interesting to talk to but I just didn’t feel that click.

I wanted to but I didn’t. We didn’t see each other again, I felt bad as he really was a lovely guy and I was annoyed with myself for not liking a nice guy!

But I didn’t stay down for long, summer was coming and my first holiday in 3 years was only a few weeks away, so I happily went about shopping for new bikinis and I carried on trying to meet new people- it was a whole new world for me and I loved it!

C xo

©2015 C xo

The Wait

It was an odd feeling going home, but my Mum and step Dad were there for me and we went out for a pizza. It was an oddly cheerful meal in that we were all very relieved the day was over, but we knew that we were still not over the finishing line.

I lay in my bed that night trying to get M’s face out of my head, the way he had leered at me in court made my body feel like ice. I couldn’t sleep, I spent hours tossing and turning my mind racing at the possibilities and honing in on the question that haunted me awake and asleep- what if he was found not guilty?

The next few days were a blur of tiredness and lack of concentration, I was on edge and every time my phone rang I jumped a mile. This was all pointless of course! Court cases took time and there was a lot of evidence to go through with the jury and I had no idea how many witnesses M had on his side.

I spent the rest of the week in this limbo of waiting and on Friday afternoon R called with an update, he reckoned that the case would go on for another couple of days but there should be a verdict by mid next week.

He told me to try to relax, M wasn’t doing a great job of endearing himself to the court, he had been told off by the judge for not answering questions directly and going off on tangents and had contradicted his own defence in front of the whole court room.

I tried to make myself relax over the weekend, I was exhausted, I hadn’t been able to switch off my mind and by now I had given up on that. An end was insight I just didn’t know if it would be the one I so badly needed.

As you can imagine, nothing held my attention for long and yet time crawled by horribly slowly. Monday felt like it was a week long. Tuesday I couldn’t stop looking at my phone and on Wednesday I was like a cat on a hot tin roof!

Then at 3.13pm my phone rang it was R.

I grabbed my phone and ran away from my desk and people so I could talk in private. This was it, it had to be- R wouldn’t call me mid-afternoon otherwise!

‘He has been found guilty!’

My vision blurred and I slumped back against the wall, relief rushed through my body and I felt tears fall down my cheeks,

‘He got 6 counts of breach of the restraining order and 1 count of perverting the course of justice, the breaches were, the LinkedIn views times two, the postcard, The valentines cards, the voicemail and the images on your website. He got a total of 1 year and 5 months for this. And 18 months for perverting the course of justice. The jury took just 33 minutes to come back with their verdict- that’s very quick, they weren’t in doubt.’

Tears were falling hard down my face now, I could hardly talk, the relief was overwhelming.

M was going to prison, and for a long time.

‘C are you alright?’

‘Yes, thank you so much R! Thank you!’

‘Your very welcome, this was the result I wanted, the judge also granted you a new restraining order with much tighter conditions and it is for 10 years- he is taking this very seriously, In addition M’s computers and phones will be destroyed and he has to pay court fees.’

I hung up the phone in a state of shock and shakily dialled my Mum, she cried down the phone at the news, and yelled for my step dad to pass on the good news.

I can’t remember much of the rest of the afternoon; I must have pulled myself together enough to go back to my desk though for soon enough I was arriving at home.

C xo

©2015 C xo

Round Two

We were lead back to the witness area, I hardly noticed the walk or the tiles this time, I was so upset, my eyes felt sore and tired and my head ached. We were taken to a smaller room which was private and told about places nearby that sold lunch.

My step dad volunteered to go out to pick up some lunch for us all and after order taking off he went. Leaving me with my parents who were trying hard to be strong and not upset themselves. I had shredded about 5 tissues and was now hiccupping and sniffing softly.

They both knew me well enough to let me be for a bit, but my mum kept my hand in hers and gently stroked the top of my hand. I had known it would be bad, but I hadn’t factored in the feeling of being under a microscope and that I would for some reason feel unaccountably guilty.

Soon my step dad came back and we tucked into lunch, I found it hard to eat anything but I knew I had hour’s ahead standing in the dock and so I forced down as much as I could stomach.

Everyone was trying to chat cheerfully and my dad step dad gleefully told me that my brief had a smart wig of silk and an expensive laptop with well-ordered notes vs M’s defence who has a vinyl looking cheap wig and ratty old battered looking laptop with no notes, just piles of screwed up paper with lots of crossed out lines, many of which had been crossed out during my briefs questions to me.

I smiled I knew they were all trying very hard to make me feel better, but I knew with every second that passed I was closer to the worst bit of this ordeal.

All too soon there was a knock at the door, everyone looked at me and smiled intoning to be strong and that I was doing brilliantly, it would be over soon.

We walked back the same way we had this morning and once again I was last to enter the court room. I walked to the dock and took my place discarding my shoes once again and steeled myself for what was about to come.

M’s defence stood up and began his questioning, to my surprise he set about with a string of ridiculous theories as to why I had set up M with this allegation of Stalking. It ranged from jealousy over his new love- the one I had not known about, not in the least that he had started to see before I had ended things, to being in cahoots with a staff member at his old company planning personal revenge- this man being someone I had met once during a busy day at the Ideal Home Show.

It was odd that there was several theories- if I had done this surely they would have concentrated on the way I did it rather than suggesting silly motives.

I answered all of his questions clearly and honestly and the absurd flimsy excuses for my motive and stories helped me focus. I was still on edge waiting for the killer blow. But for the moment I was handling his questions and felt confident that I was making it clear his suggestions were entirely unfounded and fabricated, without having to say very much.

I was in the dock for a little over 1 hour 45 mins answering M’s defence questions and then very abruptly after looking at some written notes for a good couple of minutes he announced no further questions.

I was shocked as it seemed like he had left a few things undone to me, I mean I am not a lawyer but it was almost like he had lost interest in his interrogation of me or belief in what he was saying.

The judge made a few announcements and then asked me to leave, I hurriedly put on my shoes and wobbly made my way towards the door, my mum, dad, step dad and R my case officer were all smiling broadly at me- and the first three followed me out.

As the doors closed my mum hugged me,

‘Well done, you were fantastic! It’s all done now!’ Bracingly she grabbed my hand and moved me away, both my dad and step dad were laughing at the way M had looked as we had departed, my dad cheerfully said,

‘Well he isn’t smiling now! You were sensational in there! That defence guy had nothing after you answered- no recourse!’

I smiled, I felt like I had run the marathon all over again, but I was missing the wonderful feeling of jubilation for finishing it, instead my body felt old and tired and my brain was fried to a crisp. I couldn’t recall my answers to the defence questions but from the excited chatter about me it sounded like I had been smart and clear and quite sassy at times.

We were shown out by the witness care team and it felt wonderful to be in the open and breathe in fresh air. But my head still throbbed.

We wandered towards the station, everyone still chatting happily and recalling my brilliant answers, it was odd like I had done well on an exam and they were proud of me! They all felt sure M had no chance of walking away from this now.

I thought I would have felt relived after I was finished giving evidence, I had waited so long for this day and yet I didn’t, the case was still going on and it could be days before a verdict was past.

I still had to wait.

C xo

©2015 C xo