Asha*, 24 was referred to Victim Support by Action Fraud as she had been defrauded by a friend who had borrowed money and then refused to pay it back. When contact was made with Asha she disclosed that she was also victim of a serious sexual assault.
Asha she explained that a friend had been supporting her around the sexual assault when he himself was arrested for allegations of physical and sexual abuse against his girlfriend. This had shaken her badly and she described having panic attacks and feeling suicidal.
Jill, a specialist sexual violence volunteer, was assigned to Asha’s case. When Jill contacted her, Asha explained that she felt very isolated, finding it hard to leave her flat. After the first meeting it was apparent that the case was very complex. Asha had been called as a witness in court for domestic abuse allegations involving her friend but was also struggling emotionally with the sexual assault that she had experienced. In addition to this Asha disclosed ongoing emotional abuse from her brother. Jill was also trained to support around domestic abuse so was able to provide consistent long term emotional support around both issues. Asha had much needed space to talk safely and freely about her experiences, building resilience and exploring ways of being able to cope with what had happened. This support was essential as she found it difficult to confide in family due to the issues with her brother and had very few friends she felt able to lean on.
During the trial Asha received threats as a result of her being called as a witness and was fearful that she would be attacked. House alarms were provided and a personal security alarm. Jill also talked through safety planning with Asha, improving her actual safety as well as her sense of being in control of her situation.
Asha felt torn about whether to support a prosecution of the sexual assault and this was something that she focussed on often in her support sessions. Jill was able to provide clear and neutral information about the processes involved. After being supported to explore both options and consider Asha’s coping strategy and support network for either decision, Asha felt equipped to make an informed decision about how she would like to proceed.
Over the course of the support, Asha grew in confidence and felt able to stand up to her abusive brother. Having a safe space to offload helped her to cope and continue with her job, which was important to her and which she kept despite the turbulence caused by the trial and investigation.
Asha eventually felt that she had moved on from her experience andwas able to end the support.
*not her real name