1.3.8 An example of a victim’s story
‘You never really imagine it happening to you. You see it on the television and read about it in the media – you take it on board for a few minutes, make a few comments about society, point fingers at what and who is responsible and then you get on with your life. I did all of this myself on so many occasions but then one night it did happen to me and my world and perspective of crime changed.
About 8 years ago I was the victim of a violent assault which resulted in me nearly dying from blood loss and being left with a significant facial scar. I tried to do what I believed to be the right thing and calm down a violent situation outside a pub and it all went wrong. I was hit over the head with a baseball bat and a vodka bottle. That night I changed, the world around me changed and my life changed.
When you become the victim of crime it’s not just the physical injuries that you are left to deal with. There may also be an impact psychologically. I had to deal with the trauma and the fact that I nearly died at 26. I questioned why it happened to me – had I done something to deserve it? Could I have done something differently to prevent it? Was it my own fault? After the attack my physical injuries were healing amazingly, it was the psychological ones that were the bigger issue. I suffered from a loss of self belief and self worth. My world became a place of staying safe and avoiding situations where I would be at risk. I cut myself off from my friends, family and the world. My confidence and belief was in tatters.
Thankfully I got help from a number of people, such as my GP and a psychologist called Laura who diagnosed me with a condition called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Laura told me I had to face my fears, rebuild my self confidence and self worth and she gave me the skills to do this. It was a long process but as I went through this process I was supported by Victim Support Scotland.
I didn’t use Victim Support as much as I should have when the incident first happened. It was one of my friends who had a partner that worked with them that made me aware of the organisation. She told me that I might be entitled to compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, that Victim Support would be able to assist me with this and also provide me with practical and emotional support. She told me that it was a confidential organisation that would be there for me, that they wouldn’t judge me and that they are separate from the police. She said that they would understand what I was going through and could offer some kind of help. And they did. Victim Support took so much weight off of my shoulders. They handled my compensation claim, and they were an ear for me to voice my frustrations to. My case never went to trial but they assured me that if it did their Witness Service would support me through going to court. They provided so much emotional and practical support and I needed that so badly.
Once I had my PTSD under control, I decided I wanted to give a bit back to Victim Support as a thank you for all their help. I also wanted this negative experience to be used to do some good and my psychologist had told me that volunteering is good for self-esteem, and I can confirm that this is the case. I really enjoy the work I do with Victim Support. I am out and about in the community offering practical and emotional help to victims and witnesses of crimes and their families if they need it. I’ve had excellent training and continued support from everyone within the organisation. I’ve also been told that it will be really good experience to have for when I have completed my degree in Psychology. Victim Support has been brilliant for me both as a victim of crime and also as a volunteer. It is an amazing organisation to be involved with and it is so flexible in terms of working round my university course and my work.’