I am from a community that has a deep mistrust of the police and this has shown me a side to the work they do that has really given me food for thought. I really hope that this becomes the standard practice for anyone who reports abuse.
I am so sorry your friend had to go through all this . The liaison officer sounds great though. And yes you are right it shouldn't be down to pot luck and it was quite simply disgusting that she wasn't believed.
I have NCed to tell this story to protect someone else's anonymity.
I have a good friend, who was sexually abused for many years as a child. As a teenager she went to the police three times - they didn't believe her, and took no action.
She moved across the country as soon as she was old enough, to get as far from her abuser as possible, and buried it in the back of her mind despite suffering from diagnosed PTSD.
Then, last year, two other victims of the same abuser came forward. The police force that were dealing with it found details of my friend's historic reports from 20 years ago, and asked our local force to visit her to see if she would make a new statement and give evidence in court.
Luckily, our local force has a dedicated sexual offences unit with a very strong commitment to seeing abusers prosecuted. A female specialist officer visited my friend, and said to her 'I believe that this happened to you' - the first time that any professional had ever said that. She told my friend how sorry she was that she had not been listened to or believed in the past.
My friend took the brave decision to give evidence. Despite not being the investigating force, our local force assigned my friend a specialist liaison officer, who took her statements and talked her through every step of the process. The officer told us that many forces would not have funded this, as it was not 'their' case, but that her unit is dedicated to providing a first class service and to ensuring that abusers are brought to justice. The liaison officer really went the extra mile to make it possible for my friend to give evidence but without pressuring her - she was listened to at every stage, her fears were taken seriously and allayed, her practical issues (she has a disabled child, an EBF baby, and health issues of her own) were addressed and solutions were found.
Last week, my friend went to give her evidence in court. The liaison officer drove us over 200 miles to get there, arranged for us to be booked into a hotel for the duration of the case, and convinced the CPS to cover the costs for me to go as well to care for my friend's EBF baby whilst she was in court. This officer sat with my friend, quite literally held her hand as she waited to go into court, wiped her tears and repeatedly told my friend that she believed her and KNEW she could do this.
The abuser was found guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
The liaison officer has convinced my friend to try some sessions of specialist counselling and has rung her twice this week to see how she is and offer other further support.
My friend would never have gone through with the case had it not been for the excellent treatment she had from our local force. I wish this was the case for all areas but from what the liaison officer was telling me, it isn't Women shouldn't have to be 'lucky' to live in an area where sexual abuse is taken this seriously and they are supported to the degree my friend has been.
That's it really. Not sure why I am posting other than to let you all know that there are places where it is being done so well, so there is hope for everywhere else.
I wish we had some sort of 'We Believe You' awards as I would be nominating the officer/unit involved.