Victim of sexual assault speaks out about trial experience - WNEM TV 5

Victim of sexual assault speaks out about trial experience

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Recovering from a sexual assault or abuse can be a lengthy process that looks different for everyone.

It may take weeks, months or even years and there's no timetable for healing.

When a victim comes forward against their attacker it often forces the victim to relive the nightmare.

"I thought it was my fault that I was letting this happen to me. I thought I was encouraging it and that I would break up my own family unit if I were to say something," said Mal, a sexual assault victim who wished to remain anonymous.

She wasn't able to tell her story to a judge until she was 17-years-old. By then she had endured a whole childhood of abuse.

"The earliest age I can pinpoint was 3-years-old," Mal said.

Even though it has been years since the trial, it's still hard for Mal to talk about what happened to her.

When she was 12 a family member found out about what had been going on for years. Mal was being sexually abused by her own father. She was forced to tell her mother and then she had to testify against her father in family court.

"It was humiliating. My mom was there," she said.

Mal is now 23 and a successful undergraduate student of liberal arts. However, she still struggles everyday to overcome her past.

"I mean, I have battled with depression, anxiety from the time it stopped," she said.

With support from the Child Abuse and Neglect Council, Child and Family Services, her court advocate, and family members, Mal began to face what seemed like endless red tape.

"Without them I don't know if I would have gotten through it. I felt very alone in the process," she said.

The legal system felt like a never ending cycle of getting her hopes up only to find that her trial was postponed.

The case against her father was transferred from family to criminal court where her father pled no contest and Mal faced character attacks from the defense attorneys.

"It is very hard, but if you have a court advocate, if you have the right kind of prosecutors, they already let you know that you are going to be attacked during the trial," Mal said.

Mal said she was never out to send her father to prison.

"Honestly, all I wanted was for him to say he did it so I didn't feel crazy. I didn't get that. I don't know if I'll ever get that," Mal said.

In cases of abuse like Mal's, the legal system will never be the hardest part.

"I mean, I battle with it everyday. I get better with dealing with it. It's always going to be there. It's turned up in my relationships with the guys that I date. And the worst part of it is that he is in prison 20 miles away from where I reside, so he's always there," Mal said.

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