9 minutes was all it took. Just 540 seconds to go through the awful, damaging things he had done. Less than ten minutes of questioning was OK to them back then. A handful of one word answers were an adequate response to my suffering.
Yesterday I spoke to the Detective who is investigating my report of historic sexual abuse. He has uncovered the original police report from 1997 and was shocked to learn that the Sergeant in charge had only interviewed my brother for 9 minutes. That was enough for them to caution him on 6 counts of assaulting a girl under 14 and 2 counts of performing oral sex on a girl under 14. On learning this, they slapped him on the wrist and sent him on his way. There were no consequences.
The police didn’t speak to me. My side of the story obviously wasn’t important.
The Detective also found a letter on my file written to social services by the sergeant at the time. He was angry with them for not acting more quickly, as it was down to them to interview me. It took them 3 weeks to come and talk to me about it. And I’m on record as saying ‘I don’t want my brother to get in trouble’. I remember a woman wearing far too much perfume sitting with me in my parents’ living room asking me to show her on a teddy bear where he touched me. It was confusing and I didn’t understand what they were asking. How could I have possibly answered questions that made no sense to me.
This epic catalogue of failures makes me so angry. Nobody who should have been there to protect me took the situation seriously; not my parents, not the police, not social services. Social services sent me for counselling and decided not to remove my brother from our house. That meant I was left feeling frightened in my own home, having palpitations every time I heard someone on the landing outside my bedroom door at night. By today’s standards, they failed me in a massive way. If it happened now, there would be no question whether to remove him from the house, it would be done without hesitation.
I’m also furious that he admitted so much back then. It means he can’t be prosecuted of those same offences again now. We’ve only got one count we can push to the CPS in the hope that it will go to court. The laws now are a thousand times harsher, but he’s lucky in that he is subject to the legislation at the time his crimes were committed. Still, the charge we are looking at is a big one, even by those archaic standards.
The big news is that the police are interviewing him today. He’s agreed to go in voluntarily, which means he’s coming to the police station in my home town. I can’t even work out how I feel about it all, only that the thought of him being in town has got my stomach knitted into a tight ball of fear and hate. The Detective is going to call me after its done to let me know what happened. I’ll endeavour to stay off the Lorazepam until then so maybe I’ll be able to write about it.
This is all terrifying.
Photo: Victor, Creative Commons.