On Monday I went to the crown court in Chelmsford I was lead in through a back entrance to ensure I would not bump into M and I sat down waiting in the witness suite, this was at 9.15am.
Shortly after I arrived a witness care worker showed me the layout of the courtroom so that I knew where M was, I had turned down the offer of a screen as I did previously as I did not want to give M the satisfaction of hiding from him.
My stomach was churning and the small breakfast I had made myself eat felt like it might make a return any moment. But I stayed seated and listened to the advice I had heard once before nearly 3 years ago now.
Next came the prosecutor who was to the point and brief, she warned me I might have to omit certain details of previous crimes M had done to me as this was a new case and they can’t focus on previous actions. I looked at her in shock that is all I have!
It is my word against M’s! He is lying and all I can say is I was at home asleep I did not do what he said I did and the reason why I would never do it is because I am terrified of him, I would never put myself in a room with him or seek him out.
My head started to swim and I heard my mum ask about the defense, they carried on talking and I heard words like stick to the truth, be brief, it will be harder than last time.
I stared ahead not really hearing much, if I can’t say why I can’t be near him how will the jury understand?
They all suddenly stood up and I realised they needed to go, they were due in court for 10.30am.
My mum squeezed my hand and said how about we go look at that puzzle in the corner while we wait. I nodded but mumbled I needed the loo and stood up and made it to the loo in time before the panic attack took hold.
I sat on the closed seat and tried to control my breathing I hated him so much for putting me through this and for having to feel like this again. Gradually I started to calm down I started counting out loud shakily from 1 to 100 and by 62 my breathing was evening out.
My head felt faint and as I tried to take deep breathes tears ran down my face. No no no I can’t cry now I need to keep it together!
I pressed tissues to my eyes tipping my head backwards hoping they would stop.
A knock came on the door and I heard my mums voice,
‘Are you ok?’
‘Yes, sorry I will be out in a minute’ I hurriedly brushed the wetness from my face and splashed cold water on my stinging eyes. I looked up and saw my face was pale and my eyes were blood shot, I hated looking like this and wanted so badly to be able to walk in with my head held high.
I opened the door to see my mum looking concerned, I told her about the panic attack and she hugged me fiercely. We walked out and went to the puzzle, it was very complicated and an excellent distraction- obviously why it was there.
The minutes ticked by and I realised it was 11am they had said I should be called sometime soon, deep breathes in and out in and out.
12 minutes later my case officer came in and I though ok this is it.
But she told me there was a delay with the previous case and we will have to wait, we might not get to me today. I sat back down with a bump, more waiting I don’t know if I can bear it.
So we waited.
Then at 12.10pm I was called.
I stood up and smoothed my skirt down, I can do this, I have done this before. I repeated this mantra in my head over and over
We followed the witness care worker and suddenly all too quickly I said goodbye to my Mum and T and I was alone waiting in a little cold room and behind the door lay the court and in that court was M.
My knees shock and I tried to stop them, I took long breathes and tried to keep my mind clear and to remember where to look as I walked into the court.
My heartbeat sounded like thunder in my chest and every breathe out sounded ragged as if I had run up a hill.
Suddenly the door opened and the court clerk came in and asked me if I wanted to swear on the bible or affirm, I mumbled affirm so quietly he had to ask me again.
He held the door open for me and I stood up and walked forward, my body didn’t feel like my own as the courtroom came into view 12 jury members stared at me and I forgot where not to look and I saw M.
He was staring at me too and he was smiling…