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Stories and Experiences

All names have been changed to protect the anonymity of victims.

Vicky's Story

Vicky was a victim of domestic abuse - trapped in the home she shared with her partner and his family. She also had a young child to care for and her situation was complicated because her whole home life was structured around the family unit. This created a very complex problem from which to disentangle herself.

To make things even worse, injuries suffered as a result of the abuse meant that her mobility was impaired. She needed additional support to look after her child – leaving her dependent on the family unit for that support.
To get free of the abuse, she had to remove herself and her child from that living environment and begin to move on with her life.

Vicky also had no financial independence and so faced a struggle to move into a private rented home, but she did not wish to put herself and her child into a refuge – or declare herself homeless – as she felt it would be damaging to the child.

Victim Support Scotland helped her find time to talk openly about her situation and to assess the various options available to her. This enabled her to plan her exit from the extended family home.

A VSS volunteer also arranged and accompanied Vicky to appointments with other agencies who could help her sort out her financial and family affairs and make her aware of her benefit entitlement.

However, even though Vicky managed to find a new home to live in, her problems were not over. She exhausted all of her financial resources paying the rent and deposit needed to secure the property.

VSS came up with more help by submitting a Victims Fund application which meant she could buy essential household items giving her and her son the chance to have a reasonable standard of living in their new home.
Vicky told VSS that she felt the support she had received made it possible for her to move on with her life.

She added that the help given by the volunteer and the goods provided through the Victims Fund award were key steps in helping her secure independence and get free from the trauma of domestic abuse.

Amy’s Story

Amy’s son was killed in a car crash and the driver was sent to prison for a serious driving offence. When Amy found out that the driver was to be released soon, she contacted Victim Support Scotland for help.

Amy was upset that the offender was being considered for early release on parole and VSS was able to help her make representations to the Parole Board for Scotland about the case.

In spite of her objections, the parole application was approved leaving Amy feeling that the board had not paid proper attention to the feelings of the family. This added to her grief and distress which were made much worse when the Prison Service decided to release the offender on Home Detention Curfew even earlier than recommended by the Parole Board.

Amy again turned to VSS and the charity helped her to cope with the emotional trauma she was experiencing and to put across her views to the Prison Service. VSS also arranged a meeting with her MP who took up Amy’s concerns with Scotland’s Justice Minister.

The Parole Board and Prison Service decisions could not be overturned, but Amy felt that, thanks to VSS, she had been able to make her voice heard at the highest levels in the Scottish Government.

More than this, she was later able to describe her experience to officials responsible for drafting the Victim and Witnesses Bill – an opportunity which made her feel that she had achieved something positive in contributing directly to the creation of the Bill.

The early release was a harrowing experience for Amy and her family, and she has told VSS she could not have coped without the charity’s help and support.

Davie’s Story

Davie had fought his way back to health after suffering for years with the effects of bipolar disorder. He had struggled with high levels of anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of confidence and a drink problem. But he was left devastated after two men attacked him at a bank cash machine. They hit him, knocked him to the ground, stole his money and ran away. The assault and robbery had such a terrible effect, Davie had to be admitted to hospital.

When the VSS project worker got in touch, Davie was suffering badly. He was very depressed and frightened.

He had stopped going out because of his fear, was isolated in his home and didn’t see the point in going on. He had even stopped going to the singing and drama group he had enjoyed and which had helped him shake off his earlier problems.

The only person he did see was his elderly mother who brought him shopping once a week and was worrying about his state of mind.

The VSS worker saw the dangers facing Davie straight away and took immediate action. She first of all discussed his suicidal thoughts and formulated a safe plan. She then arranged an immediate appointment with Davie’s Community Psychiatric Nurse and when he said he was afraid to go alone, she met him outside his appointment, kept him company and then waited outside during the consultation.

Davie was very grateful for the help. For the first time since the traumatic robbery he said he could see "light at the end of the tunnel".

His confidence began at last to return. He was supported for some months and during this time his thoughts and fears were discussed.

By using VSS’s self-help questionnaire, he realised his feelings were not unusual after becoming a victim of crime. It also helped him understand the continuing medical help was not a sign of failure but an important aid to his recovery.

The benefits to Davie were remarkable. He began to be more outgoing and less depressed and when he expressed a desire to go back to his drama group his project worker helped arrange that return.
VSS was also supporting Davie’s mother, and this eased the feelings of guilt Davie had over what he had put her through.

He was very pleased with VSS’s help and now mother and son have a better understanding of what had happened.

Sarah’s Story

Sarah is 18 and was assaulted when she went out one night. She was hit with a glass bottle and had clumps of her hair pulled out, leaving her with a cut on her head that required medical attention. VSS received the information very quickly about the attack and was able to support Sarah soon after it happened. Sarah said: ‘Deidre the volunteer was there and helped me work through how I was feeling about what happened.

‘I was worried about going back to work and still felt scared when I went outside. So Deidre got me a personal safety alarm which I can set off if I need to and that has really helped me. Through talking with Deidre and using the practical suggestions she has made, I feel like my confidence is coming back again. She has also told me that VSS can support me if the case goes to court so that will help me too.’

Betty’s Story

Betty is 90 years old and lived a very independent life.

One night a man broke into her home and sexually assaulted her.

The case against the man who did this to Betty was coming to trial but as Betty was deemed too vulnerable to attend the court where the hearing was taking place she was able to use a remote site.

The Witness Service (WS) arranged for Betty and her son to have a court familiarisation visit at the remote site and for the staff in the building to be aware that all necessary facilities had to be available.

On the day of the trial Betty’s son found the experience too distressing and chose to stay in his car but the WS were able to support Betty through the court process.

Betty had to move in with her son and his wife after the assault as she was too afraid to continue living alone. She was, however, hopeful that she could regain her confidence and return to her own home after the trial was over.

Betty was extremely grateful for the help and guidance from the WS and felt easier about giving her evidence.
She felt she was able to be clear and concise.

She was pleased by the fact she did not have to see the accused and that the WS had been able to sit with her as she gave evidence.

After the trial Betty’s son contacted the WS to inform them that she was having her house decorated and made more secure.

She hoped to be moving back as soon as the work was completed.

Linda’s Story

Linda’s ex-partner had control over her physically, emotionally and financially over a long period of time. He had taken out housing benefit in her name without her knowledge and would withhold money from her even though she had two children.

He would also sexually abuse her whenever he wanted to. 

Once Linda got the courage to report the abuse to the police, bail conditions were put in place. But the children were the only witnesses to the abuse and she did not want them to have to be witnesses. The case did go to court and was not proven, so the bail conditions were withdrawn.

Linda’s ex-partner then immediately walked into her house and this terrified her. He would go into her street and hang around outside the house asking the children constantly about what their mother was doing, or who she was with, under the pretext that he was visiting the neighbour. 

This caused a lot of family problems and Linda felt he would never leave her alone. She wanted to move home but she was in huge debt through the loans that her former partner had taken out in her name.

She was also behind with her council rent and discovered that her ex-partner had taken out housing benefit in her name, which she was not entitled to at the time.

Victim Support Scotland (VSS) was able to support her and managed to get a debt counsellor to help her with the debt and with a potential house move. VSS contacted the housing department, and Linda’s local councillor to get support for a move. 

She felt extremely vulnerable with the man being around her house and street all the time. Because of her experiences, and the support she received, she was finally given the go-ahead for a house swap with another tenant with a housing association. 

She was very grateful that someone was there to help and believed her story. She had felt others had not believed her when she said it was her ex-partner who had created the debt.

Linda has now moved and got a job and she has no contact with her tormentor. She is paying off her debts and is now doing very well.

The Family’s Story

Mr and Mrs F’s 17-year-old son was fatally stabbed on his way home from a party.

The Family Liaison Officer passed the details of this family to Victim Support Scotland and a volunteer was assigned to offer support. Mr and Mrs F had been unable to work since the murder and were struggling to pay bills and funeral costs.

Through the Victims’ Fund, the costs of the funeral were paid to help ease some of the financial burden. The family set up a donation box at the funeral and gave all the money raised back to the Victims’ Fund.

The volunteer carried out several visits to the family and provided emotional and practical support, helping with things such as the funeral arrangements, speaking to their mortgage lender to get them a payment break and referring them for bereavement counselling. This contact was maintained up to and including the court case.

A court familiarisation visit for the family was arranged before the trial with the Witness Service and at their request the Victim Service volunteer accompanied them to the court on that day.

The Witness Service took up the support at the start of the trial and arranged for the family to come in through a side door to avoid the accused’s family and the press.

They were given a separate waiting room and supported throughout by the Witness Service volunteers. On the day of the verdict the family had asked if the Victim Service volunteer they had been working with would be available to accompany them to court for this and this happened.

The murderer was found guilty and the family were delighted with the verdict and said that they didn’t think they would have got through the ordeal without the help and support of VSS’s dedicated staff and volunteers. VSS also assisted the family in preparing a media statement and a staff member read this statement to the media outside the court on the family’s behalf.

Our volunteers and staff are still working with the family and we are awaiting the outcome of a criminal injuries compensation claim.

Donald’s Story

One night Donald was at a cash point near his home when he was assaulted by two men. They hit him, knocked him to the ground, took his money and ran away.

Many years ago Donald was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and it had taken him a long time to manage his illness. The attack devastated him and he became too frightened to go out. He started drinking again, no longer socialised and did not see the point of going on with his life.

When he first met his Victim Support Scotland volunteer he was having suicidal thoughts and did not care about himself. The volunteer was trained in ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and soon recognised a number of high-risk factors. The volunteer and Donald discussed his suicidal thoughts and helped him to develop a plan.

Donald asked if the volunteer would attend the GP with him and when this happened he was very relieved.

The visit gave him renewed confidence and 'light at the end of a very dark tunnel'.

During his ongoing support with VSS his thoughts and fears were discussed, and by using the self-help questionnaire he soon discovered that his feelings and emotions were not unusual after being the victim of a crime and over time he began to regain his confidence.

Donald was dreading the court case but the Witness

Service offered him support with a court familiarisation visit, and ongoing help during the trial. He was extremely grateful and said afterwards 'it was good to be met by a familiar face on the day of the trial'.

VSS also assisted in applying for criminal injuries compensation and he was eventually awarded £1,800.

Several months after his initial appointment with VSS he dropped into the office, looking smartly dressed and clean shaved. He was going to visit his parents to show them how much better he was. He recently sent the local Victim

Support Scotland service a card to say: 'Thank you all so much for the support you showed me, just to know you were there was enough to help me through the hard times. You are all lovely people and take care in what you do.'

James’s Story

James’s heard a knocking at his door, and when he went out to check what was going on, he found a man who was under the influence of alcohol shouting for his neighbour.

James tried to calm the man down by telling him the neighbour was on holiday and after a while he invited the man into his house to try and stop the noise on the street.

The man then entered the house, but became abusive and refused to leave. When James insisted he leave, the man attacked him beating him, mainly on the face.

James was referred to Victim Support Scotland. Both he and his wife suffered extreme anxiety and felt very scared.

They felt they were not able to live in their house safely any more. James’s injuries meant that he also needed reconstructive surgery.

They desperately wanted help with cleaning the house as bloodstains were still on their carpet and they suffered having to see them every day.

However, in reality, they wanted to move house as it had all become too much. VSS helped James and his wife with emotional and practical support.

We were able to get the carpets professionally cleaned and assisted them with their criminal injuries compensation application and also to apply to their local housing department for a house move.

James and his wife have subsequently moved house and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority awarded him £6,500.

The couple are starting at last to rebuild their lives.

Donald asked if the volunteer would attend the GP with him and when this happened he was very relieved. The visit gave him renewed confidence and ‘light at the end of a very dark tunnel’.

During his ongoing support with VSS his thoughts and fears were discussed, and by using the self-help questionnaire he soon discovered that his feelings and emotions were not unusual after being the victim of a crime and over time he began to regain his confidence.

Donald was dreading the court case but the Witness Service offered him support with a court familiarisation visit, and ongoing help during the trial. He was extremely grateful and said afterwards ‘it was good to be met by a familiar face on the day of the trial’.

VSS also assisted in applying for criminal injuries compensation and he was eventually awarded £1,800.

Several months after his initial appointment with VSS he dropped into the office, looking smartly dressed and clean shaved. He was going to visit his parents to show them how much better he was. He recently sent the local Victim Support Scotland service a card to say: ‘Thank you all so much for the support you showed me, just to know you were there was enough to help me through the hard times. You are all lovely people and take care in what you do.’

The Couple’s Story

Mr and Mrs P lived a quiet life until a new set of neighbours moved in next door. The neighbours went to Mr and Mrs P saying that they wanted their house. When the couple refused, a campaign of threats to their lives and extortion began.

Mr and Mrs P’s home was vandalised eight times in a period of ten months. The windows and front door were continuously smashed. The police were called and the couple were referred to VSS.

The family’s home insurance premiums rocketed and latterly the insurance company said they no longer wanted to insure house. Mr and Mrs P were distraught as no other insurance company wanted to insure them.

They asked VSS to speak to the insurance company on their behalf. The charity arranged a meeting with senior members of the company and explained their predicament.

With a clearer understanding of the couple’s situation, senior management from the insurance company decided to renew the family home’s insurance once more.

They also arranged for additional security to be put in place – metal guards were put in front of windows and additional outside lighting was installed – all at the expense of the insurance company and with no additional cost to Mr and Mrs P.

Despite this positive outcome, sadly the family continued to be subjected to ongoing criminal acts.

Only recently have the family started to feel at peace again due to the perpetrator being removed by the police and they are now hopeful of beginning, at last, to lead a normal life again.

Peter’s Story

Peter was one of eight people who were referred to Victim Support Scotland by a council’s Anti-Social Behaviour team.

The close where Peter lived had been vandalized with damage to the back door and window but the worst aspect for Peter was his mobility scooter which he kept in the common close area had been burnt.

He is asthmatic with advanced vascular disease and he has had part of his leg amputated. His mobility is restricted and he is on pension credit and unable to replace or repair the scooter.

Victim Support Scotland worked with the council to ensure that the close was made safe. The Anti-Social Behaviour team was kept updated and VSS were able to feed back any information that was made available.

Our volunteer investigated the possibility of helping with Peter’s mobility. Because of its age, repairing the scooter was not a viable option.

The service then looked at the cost of replacing it. A suitable model was found and an application was made to the Victim’s Fund which granted the money.

Peter and his daughter collected the scooter from the local office and were delighted with the service provided by the staff and volunteer at Victim Support Scotland.

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