Children Testifying in Court

This is a tough one, I know everyone is going to have their own opinions and that’s fine. This is from my experience as a child testifying in a full court room against my mom’s abuser while he gave me the look of death, I was 11. I remember having to go to court with my mom after she finally called the police and had her abuser charged and arrested. I was in grade 6 and it was cold out but no snow had fallen yet. I remember being terrified because I had to not only go with my mom, but I was going to be called to the stand to testify against this monster. I was scared that he’d be angry at me for telling everyone what he’d done and I thought he’d run over to me and hurt me. Prior to entering the court room, a lawyer came and sat with my mom and me and explained how things worked in the court room. She assured me that although he could see me, he was in shackles and behind glass with 2 guards. I was still terrified, I’d already seen the damage he’d done to my mother and I was just a little kid.

 

I remember we sat near the back, I was on the isle and we were on the right hand side facing the judge, the court room was packed. They had a lot of cases before us and we had to sit through them and wait for his case to be called. Finally, I heard his name. Even now, 24 years later, I’m shaking as I remember. The guards brought him out in his orange jump suit and shackles, they guided him to the locked glass box and put him in there. He scanned the room for us, shooting daggers when he spotted us. My mom was called first, she made her way up to the witness box beside the judge, which was also near the locked box with him in it. He bored holes into her head with his piercing glare of death, but my mom wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of even glancing at him. She recounted the events of the latest beating, the one which landed him where he was. I remember his lawyer questioning my mom after the DA was finished, he was a jerk. He was yelling and trying to trip my mom up in her story, he was asking questions very fast and over and over hoping to get different answers. But my mom told the truth and she never slipped up. She was excused and then they called me.

 

I’ll never forget this as long as I live. It was one of the most terrifying yet empowering moments in my life, and at such a young age. I walked slowly up to the witness box, shaking uncontrollably. I could feel his piercing glare aimed right at me now, a child of 11. I climbed up onto the stool and the DA held out the Bible and asked me if I knew the difference between the truth and a lie, I said I did and he asked me to swear on the Bible that I would tell the truth. I did. He asked me a lot of questions about that day and I answered them all. They were the exact same answers as my mom’s. Then his lawyer came up and started grilling me. He treated me no differently than he’d treated my mom. He was cold and calculated, trying to trip me up, but the truth cannot be tripped up. I answered every question perfectly. I remember glancing over at the abuser and seeing him look at me with such hatred, I was just a child. Finally I was told that I could step down and return to my seat, I practically ran, right into my mother’s arms. She hugged me tight and said “Way to go baby, you did a great job up there. You’re so brave, I’m so proud of you. I love you” I told her I loved her too and the woman sitting in front of us turned around and said “Good job, you are brave standing up to him like that.”

 

Next came sentencing, I think he got a long time in jail and my mom got a permanent restraining order. I don’t remember the sentencing, I have actually blocked out from the moment I sat down to my mom and me getting off of the bus near my school. I still had to go to school that day, and I did. I think it was a defense mechanism to block stuff out, or maybe I was so full of adrenaline I can’t remember. All I know is it’s really hard on the children to have to testify in court against an abuser. It was terrifying seeing the person so close to me with such a look of pure hatred on his face. I still remember it to this day, not necessarily as a bad memory but as a liberating one. I was taking steps to put him in jail and keep him away from us. I was taking steps to freedom.

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3 thoughts on “Children Testifying in Court

  1. I am glad your mom believed you as I have heard horror stories of mothers taking their boyfriends sides over their own children!
    Its sad what you went through with your own sons father. Did he ever try to use your childhood against you or did your own ex husband ever try to use your childhood against you in custody issues? Stay strong.

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