A child sex abuse survivor described her experience of the judicial system as “barbaric” after her case against a family member collapsed when she was 12 years old. She said improvements must be made and more support given to children in court cases if victims are to come forward.
A year after revealing details of the abuse she had endured for three years to a teacher, the case was heard in court but after a week it collapsed due to lack of evidence. The victim felt suicidal thinking how she had lost family, a year of her life and how difficult the whole process had been.
It was felt the judicial system “didn’t understand children” and that perhaps child psychology was required to be introduced into the system.
Following a report published in June 2021 – Understanding Court Support for Victims of Domestic Abuse – the Domestic Abuse Commissioner called for more dedicated specialist court support after it was revealed 89% of abuse survivors do not get any support when they go through the family courts.
The report showed that a lack of understanding of abuse and the attitudes of the court professionals’ was the most common answer given when asked what had a negative impact on their experience. This often left victims feeling re-traumatised by the whole court system.
Children’s charity NSPCC have recently reported that prosecutions for child abuse nationally have halved. They want the government to review how the justice system can be made to work better.
Pierre Hyman from NSPCC said “Last year when there was a similar drop in prosecution rates for adult rape cases, they very rightly launched a review to work out exactly what has gone on – that’s exactly what we’re asking for here.”
The Ministry of Justice has responded to say the government was determined to deliver better support for all victims and was committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our society, in particular children.
A spokesperson said, “in order to deliver this we are investing almost half a billion to reduce court delays, spending over £185m on vital support services and boosting the number of Independent Sexual Violence Advisors.”
Written by Lyndsey Jackson at BLM (firstname.lastname@example.org)