7 Years

I haven’t written in a while. I haven’t known what to say or how to say it or sometimes even work out what I’m thinking enough to make it even half-literate!

For the past few weeks, building up to today in fact, I have felt like one big ball of anxiety. There are some situations that you can’t really prepare for, you’re not entirely sure what to expect, and often our minds make them worse than reality.  Sometimes however, those situations are all as difficult as we expected, but what is important to remember, is that we made it through. Perspective.

Today I saw my husband for the first time in 18 months for mediation. 18 months since I moved out, 18 months since he was last violent, 18 months since I came home to no home. Waking up this morning I was distracted, my head was messy and I felt sick with nerves. Outside me was calm, inside me was spinning in the fastest of circles.

I didn’t know what to expect. We hadn’t spoken except via Solicitors, I hadn’t seen him, and now we had two hours to fight out our differences. We were by no means mediating to reconcile, we were mediating to sort out our finances and the house.

It was so incredibly strange seeing somebody who I once shared everything with, and recognising nothing about them. Somebody I fell in love with, somebody I spent my holidays with, somebody I vowed to spend the rest of my  life with, somebody I gave everything to, now a complete stranger. 7 years of being a team is a long time. Perspective.

Rational police head on, tea in hand, I did it. I fought for what I knew I deserved, on the most part held it together, and on the most part concentrated on fact and not emotion. Tears were for afterwards.

I feel exhausted. The pressures I put on myself building up to today, generally without realising it, have all been released. Part of me certainly doesn’t believe that it’s done, that there quite possibly is no more fighting to be had, and part of me feels sad that this is nearing the end of the last 7 years of my life as I knew it.

That may sound slightly odd given everything that he put me through over the last couple of years. Sad may be deemed a strange emotion to be feeling. I don’t forgive him for what he did. I don’t forgive the behaviour. I don’t forgive the violence. I hate the fact that he has not once apologised or given me an ounce of explanation for what he did. But it’s the end of a chapter, the end of what I knew and potentially the end of who I thought I was. And that’s sad, and that’s allowed.

We cannot undo our pasts, we cannot go back with the knowledge we have now and re-live them, but we can learn from them. We can understand our worth, understand what we deserve, and do the one thing that we are all notoriously bad at, and put ourselves first for once.

Look after yourself, there is only one of you. x

 

 

Reflection

With a head full of thoughts, you’d think it would be easy to get them onto paper, but nope! Sometimes, with the best of intentions, I turn on my laptop, open a new blog post and just stare at a blank screen.

The combination of not knowing where to start, not knowing how to make things sounds remotely coherent, and not being able to take them back once they’re written down makes me end up not writing anything at all.

Lockdown has been for about two months now. It’s affected everybody in different ways, and understandably some more that others.  I think it’s fair to say that we all feel under some kind of a curfew, being told when and where we can go out, and who we can and can’t see.  It’s unnatural, it’s uncertain, and most of all it is unsettling.

It has given a lot of time to be with your thoughts and I have concluded that I do not do well with this! Work is good, in that it is busy, we are lucky that we get an element of a social life as we are with our colleagues everyday, and we are occupied.  Home is not so good. I live alone and I don’t currently have a garden – just a quick shout out to the English weather for being as helpful as ever! (Guaranteed rain when this is all over…?)

I’ve struggled more than I care to admit, and that’s probably half the reason that I haven’t posted in a while, because I don’t want to admit it. I don’t mind living by myself, but that’s interspersed with seeing friends or going out or having dinner with the girls (which we have maintained via Facetime but it’s not quite the same). It’s also interspersed with hugs which I really, really miss.

In the last couple of months, lockdown aside, I have continued to have legal battles (less at work than at home which is not something to be proud of), I’ve been given a start date with a new Police Force and I feel like I’m sat on a very high emotional fence not sure which way I’m about to fall off it.

If you’ve followed my Twitter or this blog for a while, you will be well versed in the last two years of my life. If you’re relatively new to either/both, firstly – hey! Secondly, the short version is that I moved forces two years ago due to the location of my husband’s job. Transpires he is controlling, violent and virtually kicked me out of my own home about 9 months after I transferred. The less said about him the better and I am probably still not ready to talk about all of it, but he broke me in a number of ways, and the legal battles around the house etc. continue, slowly.

I made the decision before Christmas that it was time to go home. It is no great secret, or surprise really, that there was only one reason I ever left. That reason no longer exists in my life, and where I am is not home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy here, but there is nothing holding me here. On this rare occasion, my head and my heart are in agreement!

Leaving is going to be so tough, the friends I have made up here have saved me this past year. I moved into one of their homes, they’ve picked me up every time I’ve broken, they’ve made me laugh when I’ve just wanted to cry. It couldn’t be more true that I couldn’t have done it without them, and I really don’t know where I would be now if it wasn’t for them.

I guess when the people in your life are prepared to fight your fight with you, it is too soon to give up.

Sometimes it is too hard to see the bigger picture, and you’re left looking at what is in front of you. For me, that was dead ends everywhere I looked and not sure how or when any of this would ever end. I found myself thinking “what’s the point” far too often, and I was running out of fight. At least with lockdown you can have a little cry without people seeing!

I am currently torn between friends here saying “Pleeeeeeease don’t go” and friends at home saying “OMG you’re home in X days!!” – It’s like emotional whiplash!

Reflection is important. It’s as important as perspective. Don’t just look at the last few weeks, look at the bigger picture.

Those days where we took everything for granted are gone, and we will no doubt cherish those little moments all the more in future.

Those days of rushing around are gone, because cleaning the living room has to last about a week or you’ll run out of things to do!

Those days of saying “I’ll see you soon” are gone too, because when we can, we actually will make time for those people. We miss them.

I have started sorting through stuff to pack, and I have concluded that it will be really tough to leave my little flat, it’s been my little safe place this past year, so I keep putting off the sorting!

It’s comforting to take a minute to reflect sometimes. On how far we have come, on the memories we have made, on the achievements we have and the lessons we have learnt. And it is important to remember that we take our memories wherever we go, they aren’t geographically specific.

 

Brave

A Lot Can Happen in a Year

As I sit here writing this, I think about this time last year, and how wildly different everything was.

This time last year I was going through 91 exhibits for a Crown Court Trial due to start the following morning, which ended up running for 10 days. I was a teenie bit stressed. You never feel more “trial ready” than just before you meet with the Prosecutor and they pick out all the holes!  Trying to predict what they’ll ask is an art yet to be perfected.

This time last year I had a husband, a home and a future. Boy how that changed in 24 hours.

This time last year three horrendous criminals hadn’t seen justice. That was about to change.

This time last year I’m fairly certain the word “Coronavirus” hadn’t even been invented. This does actually give me some hope. A year is a bloody long time, but it goes really, really fast. A year can do a lot for one person, a year can change a lot things, hopefully this time next year I can write “do you remember Coronavirus? What an arse that was.”

Time is a weird thing. It’s a healer and your own worst enemy. It shows you just how far you’ve come, and reminds you of all the anniversaries. It flies by in the blink of an eye, but makes you feel like you haven’t made any progress.

Sometimes I feel myself thinking “I cannot believe it’s been a year” and others “how has it only been a year?” I guess it depends on my mindset at the time. On the days when I want to crawl under a rock, the former. On the days where I feel I’m making progress, the latter.

Fast forward a year. I have a better relationship with my Solicitor than my ex. I have made a new home for myself. I am putting myself back together, I cry less. I try to remind myself of the progress I have made in myself, and the progress I am making with my Solicitor when I just want to give up. I remind myself that I am lucky I am safe, and out of that toxic relationship. I have nailed (most of the time) the “I’m okay thank you how are you?” Sometimes, it’s just easier than speaking the truth. Other times, I send messages like this (ooops).Tweet Pi

Maybe I’m not always okay…! Thank God for understanding friends.

But so much more has happened. I realise that the eight year sentence handed out to three of my defendants in June 2019 has barely begun. I think about the number of victims I have helped in the last 12 months, the amount of people we have seen convicted.  The memories made with friends and family, the plans made for the next 12 months. It’s all about perspective. I really need to start remembering that!

We are two weeks into a three week lockdown. I have absolutely no doubt that we will see this extended for at least another three weeks.  We do not know what is going to happen, we can guess and predict, but we do not know.  Let’s see what comes out of the advice at Easter, let’s hope our isolation is working, let’s hope that together we can kick Corona’s arse. It has never been more about teamwork.

With how we are feeling about Coronavirus now is not dissimilar to how I felt this time last year. Totally different circumstances, however not totally different emotions.

  1. How on earth am I getting through this?
  2. What do I do now?
  3. Whenever will this end?
  4. Why does it feel like I’m in control of nothing?

A lot can happen in a year, and a year ago everything was different. I do genuinely believe we will get there. Yes it will be shit, there’s no doubt in that, but we can do it. One day at a time, small achievements, but we will see the difference and we will get there.

I hope that this time next year we are all getting back on our feet and rather than “How on earth am I getting through this?” we can say “We did it”. Rather than “Whenever will this end?” we can say “Wow it’s been *** months already” and “do you remember lockdown?!”

This is going to be a really hard year, but it is only a year.

Be safe & be sensible x

A Little Bit of Me & A Lot of Hindsight

I’m sat writing this post ten months after my world came crashing down, ten months after I was kicked out of my own house, and ten months after that one person I was meant to have been able to trust with my life, broke that trust into one thousand tiny pieces.

I don’t know whether I will ever share this, but I’m at a point where talking about what has happened is a little easier, but given that I’m one for bottling everything up, I think I just need to write it down, get it out, and hopefully feel better for it.

I’ll take you back to August 2018. Two months after I got married. One month after I moved my home & job permanently to be able to properly start a life with my husband.

For the last year we had lived a somewhat chaotic life, not assisted by my shifts. In March 2017 we bought our first home together, which we had spent the following year working on, totally gutting and refurbishing it over rest days, in order to be able to move in when we were married, with little work remaining to be done on it.

When we got married we had been together just over four years. A lot had happened in those years. We had a right laugh though. Hardly ever argued, and he would always comment about his friends who always seemed to “squabble” and how we were lucky that wasn’t us.

The wedding came around so quickly, and it was honestly one of the best days of my life. I know that sounds really cheesy, but it is so true. Having all our family and friends in one room with us was just magical, and the only thing missing was my grandpa. He was just too poorly to travel, but he had friends with him and they had champagne for us, bless them.

Whilst on Honeymoon I received confirmation from what is now my current Police Force, that my transfer application had been accepted and my start date was going to be 31st July 2018.

Resignations went in, paperwork came out of my ears, and on 27th July 2018, I completed my final night shift in my old Force, left my little shift family, was embarrassed with a radio shout out from our Controller, and set off 140 miles up the motorway to what was to be my new life.

I had so many emotions about leaving. It was so hard. Having only moved for University, I was born and bread in one village. I returned after Uni. Many people I’m sure would say that wasn’t clever, however I disagree. It has been and always will be home. So many friends and memories belong there. It’s everything I know and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I remember a conversation I had with a Chief Superintendent before I left. I have known him years, he’s more a friend now. We went for a coffee and he asked me if I was excited to leave and I distinctly remember saying “I don’t know.”

Don’t get me wrong, I was excited, of course I was. The distance was no longer going to be there. The ridiculous amount of miles I was racking up on my poor car, and the fact I could do that drive (not literally) with my eyes closed, was getting tiring. Most importantly though, I had just got married and we were properly, finally, starting our new life together. It didn’t stop me being scared, scared of leaving everything, everyone and everywhere I knew, but I did it. And I did it for him.

Fast forward to August 2018. A matter of weeks later. I was popping back to my family home for rest days. I forget why. Taking the opportunity to grab the final bits and pieces and seeing a few people I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to when I had left I expect.

We had the biggest argument before I went. Christ knows why. Looking back now it screamed of jealousy on his part. Jealous I still had my friends? Jealous that because I had moved he didn’t expect me to go back? Did he know me at all…?!

I don’t remember the details of the argument, how it started, or exactly what was said. I do however remember him taking my wedding rings off me, throwing my handbag out of the bedroom window and punching the wall. He told me it was his house (mortgage technicalities) and I needed to leave.

I’ve always been told I’m an over thinker, but even for me the amount that went through my head in those minutes was insane.

Am I homeless?
I don’t know anyone here.
Why now?
He’s never been violent before, what the fuck was that about?
He has taken my rings. What does that even mean?
What actually are we arguing about?
Where the hell do we go from here?
Can I have my bag back?

And why, if you don’t want to be with me for whatever reason, did you wait until we were married and I had uprooted my whole life. What a prick. I told him that. He didn’t answer me.

Off outside I went, to retrieve my bag which had taken a swift exit a la window and emptied its contents on the way down.

Off he went in the car. Where? God knows. Why? God knows. Now what? God knows.

I had the phone number of one of the girls at work. A girl I’d known 4 weeks, who actually can be quite the pain in the ass, but at that time, she was great. Let’s face it, I was a stranger. I text her a summary and she said she was in work early the following day and said I should go in early with her if I felt safer.

Safe. Was I? Somebody I thought I knew had suddenly lost his shit and shown me a side I had never seen before. Did I feel safe? No, not really. Scared? 100%. Scared of being in my own home. In our home. The place we had spent the last year working on. It was utterly ridiculous.

Work the next day was tough. I mean the work bit was fine, the talking to my new DS and “honestly I’m really not needy” chat was less than fine. Hello man I’ve barely spoken to, here is my current life situation and have some tears for a bonus. Sorry.

He was ace. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. We spoke, a lot. I cried in equal measure. He told me not to go home because he couldn’t keep me safe there, but he could at work. He asked if I could stay elsewhere. He told me to phone him any hour of the night if I needed to get out, and he would help. Talk about a way to get to know each other quickly! Again though, that word. Safe.

I’ll be honest, I think I buried it. I buried my feelings, I buried what I wanted to say, how I felt and maybe even my gut instinct. It was easier to kid myself I suppose. Ridiculous maybe, but easier. I felt ashamed.

Having worked for 2 years in Safeguarding, more specifically with Child Protection & High Risk Domestics, I really struggled to understand what was going on. Maybe the more accurate truth is that I didn’t want to admit it. Not being safe at home was something I supported people through, not something I went through myself. Pleading with my DS not to record a domestic incident of my own, and yes really I’m fine, isn’t my life. Well it wasn’t prior to this. I couldn’t really process it. I felt numb. I felt lost. And I felt so alone.

I went home that night and throughout the 40 minute drive from work, I felt sick. What was I about to walk into? What was going to happen? Would I be welcome there? Was he going to be violent again? Christ. However, he gave me my wedding rings back, so kind of him, and apologised. We didn’t really talk about what the hell had happened. I don’t know why, and in hindsight that was an error. A massive, massive error.

I had rung my brother because I couldn’t get hold of my parents. He’s younger than me but oh my god do I owe him. He has been golden this past year and has dropped everything to help me more than once.  My little pain in the backside of a brother growing up was suddenly this protective man who wanted to help me.

August came and went as did the argument. The most that was ever said by him was sorry, the most by me was that if he was ever violent again I would really, really struggle to stay.

I may have been naive to what was going on, but I still had some sense. I knew it didn’t end with punching walls. It sadly never, ever does. I had seen it at work far too many times. I just didn’t think I would see it on my own doorstep.

Since August all seemed fine. Friends would ask how things were and they were just that, fine. It didn’t get spoken about and life went on at its ridiculous pace. There were a few spats but nothing that really raised my concern. Nothing that at the time made me worried, scared or feel unsafe.

On Friday 29th March 2019 I was in Court for a sentencing. He had the weekend off and was going home to his family. It was Mother’s Day weekend. I dropped him at the station that morning and told him I would phone around lunchtime when I was done in Court. I was with my work bestie at Court. She’s so much more than that really. More of a sister, less of a colleague. She makes me laugh till I cry and even though she’s too nice to admit it, she knows she saved me this past year.

I rang him after Court as promised. Sentencing, we thought, was rubbish. Too lenient – standard. I relayed this on the phone to him, and then said I was back at the office and would phone him later that night once I was home from work.

I kid you not when I say the reply I got was “Don’t bother, I’m busy for the weekend.” And that was the last conversation we had.

He didn’t let me know he had got home safe, he ignored my phone call that night, and that is how the weekend went. To tell the truth, I stopped texting because it was pissing me off more that I was being ignored than not texting in the first place. That in itself was winding me up. I am not the kind of person who pesters and pesters their other half as to what they are doing, who they are with, where they are blah blah. But this was out of character, and to be brutally honest, he was being a massive knob. Everything, I thought, had been absolutely fine when I had dropped him at the station that Friday morning.

Let’s not forget the uproar caused when I went home for a weekend…double standards? Quite possibly.

I worked the Saturday, and I had the Sunday as a re-rostered Rest Day as Monday 1st April 2019 started the beginning of my biggest Crown Court trial to date. I have to say, his timing for what is to follow was impeccable. Pick a worse week, I dare you.

That Sunday afternoon I still had not heard a word, and was becoming slightly curious as to whether he was even coming home the following day as had been the plan. He was on a week’s leave until the Friday night, so I hadn’t put it past him to stay up at his parents and just not tell me.

I text him to ask him, and got a “yep” back. That was it. 3 days of no contact and I get a “yep”. Splendid, love you too. He had also got me a ticket to the football the following Saturday. Following a slightly disjointed and ridiculous text exchange I told him he could take a mate to the football if he wanted, and I would cancel my leave and go to work instead.

To tell you the truth, I could take or leave football, it really doesn’t bother me. Let’s face it, it’s not rugby is it, and we all know that’s the better sport!

He told me he had already sorted someone else going to the football, but that he was taking the car.

When I moved up here, we went down to one car – my car. He insisted on buying a bike. If I was working, I had the car, I wasn’t going to walk up the motorway to work. If I wasn’t working and didn’t need it, he could use it. It worked and we never had issues with it.

Naturally, when he said he was taking the car, I disagreed, for the motorway reason above. If I wasn’t going to the football I was going to work, therefore I was driving. I told him I would pay his train ticket, and he said “tough I’ve made plans, I’m taking the car”.

Any of you know me, know I have a feisty side. I’m really not a pushover, and when it’s required I have no issue in fighting my corner. I told him bluntly that it was my car and I was having it if I was going to work.

I never saw the reply “It’s my house, move out” coming. Could have done with the heads up for that one I’ll be honest. To begin with, I thought he had a shit sense of humour and was trying to be funny. It became clear quickly, he was not.

This insignificant football related tiff appeared rather quickly as though it was the excuse he had needed for god knows how long to lose his head and dictate what was to happen next.

It’s his house (back to those mortgage technicalities), I need to leave, he’s already sold the football ticket, he hadn’t even spoken to me about his Nanna’s 80th party in September, we would sell the house and go 50/50 and he would get someone in to value the property the following week.

What the fuck.  It transpired with the birthday bash saga that he had already told his parents that I “wouldn’t be an issue by then” so there was no point telling me about it. Nice.

I’ll be honest, this wasn’t the ideal set of circumstances to end the day on, given that 70% of my brain was already stressing about court. Everything I thought about in August I was thinking about now. Back on the phone to my brother, love him, and I tried to get some sleep.

On the Monday when I returned home from Court, his mum’s car was on the drive. I could have died. What on earth was that there for. Am I about to be significantly outnumbered? Is it going to be World War Three? Was she oblivious and we were now to play happy families? Given that the previous night’s conversation included that he would be moving in to the spare room, the latter option could prove difficult.

Naturally then, the latter option it was. She was oblivious. We hugged, we laughed, we talked. I say we – I mean his mum and me. He barely exchanged a look in my direction all night. I made my excuses and went to bed. I was knackered, this was killing me, I was so confused, and Tuesday meant day 2 in Court. My 15 year old victim was giving his evidence, and I needed to be there for him 100%.

The following morning I was up and out and at work before his mum or him had woken up. I had sent him a message asking that we talk when I got home, and he told me he didn’t want to.

Well, tough. There were two of us in this marriage and up until this point, I had absolutely not a clue what was going on. He had sent me a draft message of what he proposed to send my parents in order to explain the fact that our marriage was ending. He could fuck off. He appeared to be controlling everything, he wasn’t controlling that. He told me we would speak on Wednesday, but I should text him when I was leaving work that evening and he would go out. Charming.

As it happened, Court resulted in a to do list as long as my arm, because CPS once again had excelled themselves in being catastrophically useless, so I didn’t get home until about 2300hrs. I had shared my DS’s dinner, as I hadn’t foreseen being at work that late! I I should mention that this was not the DS from August, sadly he’d left the department. This was another DS, and yes, I cried on him too. (It’s a really rubbish habit, I wouldn’t advise it).

When I got home that night, I felt like I was walking into somebody else’s life. Somebody who when I worked in Safeguarding I would help and support. Somebody suffering controlling, psychological abuse from their partner. When I pulled up outside, I noticed a number of lights had been left on in the house, weird.

I got in and the lounge door was shut. Also weird, as this was never shut. I walked straight through into the kitchen to dump my stuff. The light was on. There was a list on the side. It was a list of items in the house – bed, sofa, TV, drawers, garden furniture. He had literally divided up our possessions and left them in a cute little list for me. I didn’t really know what to do with that. He still hadn’t had the balls to talk to me, but his views seemed to slap me in the face rather harshly when I read that.

I opened the lounge door, more out of curiosity now than anything else, and as soon as I did I felt tears roll down my face. Every single picture in the room had been removed. The gallery wall I had made now was just a load of picture hooks in the wall. Our wedding photos weren’t on the mantle piece, there was nothing. It felt like an empty space.

I now really dreaded going upstairs. The study light had been left on. It was like a shit game of hide and seek. Although I kept finding stuff which I really didn’t want to see. On the floor of the study were all the photos. Not just the ones from the living room it transpired, but all the photos in the whole damn house. He had left a note on them which said “Let me know which ones you want, I’ll bin the rest.”

The spare room door was shut and the light was off. Clearly, he was asleep in there like he had threatened prior to his mum coming to stay. In our room, he had moved all of his stuff out. He’d left the drawers open as if to prove a point that his stuff wasn’t in them, and had taken it all into the spare room – including his bedside table?!

By my side of the bed was a vase of flowers. This was bizarre for two reasons. Firstly, because he never bought me flowers. He would “joke” about them being pointless and a waste of money because they die within a week. Secondly, because the note he had left with them was not your usual note you receive when you’re given flowers. It read “Don’t worry, these are not a ‘I’m sorry’ bunch as I’m under no illusion we are well past that. I just hope it brightens up such a shit start to such an important week for you.”

What on earth was I supposed to do with that?  The irrational side of me wanted to launch the flowers out the window the same way my bag had exited all those months previously.  The rational side of me said “go to sleep, you have another long day ahead tomorrow”.  I took Option B.

Wednesday evening was “let’s have a conversation” night. Whether I was more nervous for that conversation, or for Day 3 at Court was a hard one. I was nervous in equal measure, for different reasons. I felt sick all day. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to have that conversation, because I was scared it was going to confirm all my worst fears. Boy was I right.

Before I left work that day, I spoke to my DS. This is the DS who shared his dinner with me the night before. By this time, I hadn’t even told my work bestie, who I was at Court with, what was going on. I just couldn’t bring myself to. I think she’s just about forgiven me! More importantly, Court was a lifeline over these few weeks. It kept me going, it kept me busy and it kept me occupied. My mind didn’t have time to wander, to worry, or to overthink. It saved me. If my life had fallen apart at least I could try and get the right verdict for my poor victim.

I asked my DS whether my previous DS had told him any of the chaos of the previous summer, which was a resounding no. I knew he wouldn’t have, because as far as we were aware, there weren’t issues anymore, all was dandy. What was there to say? I just hoped he had, so I didn’t have to repeat it all. Anyway, I gave him a whistle stop tour of August, and then explained where I was at now. Again, I asked he didn’t record a domestic, that I wanted to speak to him as a Boss not a Police Officer. He was okay with this, but I was careful what I said. He was fab, which was to be expected. In the end when I moved out, within a month of it all going South, he got a van and helped me. We spent hours doing shuttle runs, building bed frames and winning the Ikea flat-pack fight! I owe him so much.

The Wednesday night chat was pointless. We got nowhere. I asked to talk about it and he handed me the list of property he had made the day before. Clearly what I meant was talk about what actually has caused him to decide that our marriage was over, not who got which half of the sodding sofa. We argued, we shouted, he yelled, I went to bed.

I tried again on Thursday. Somehow that went even worse.  He stomped off upstairs and I followed him (maybe an error) and watched as he ripped our wedding photographs up. I don’t remember what I said, I think I just stood their crying. It prompted the response “Well we don’t need them anymore”. Did I still have any idea of what had actually gone on? Nope. I knew that our marriage was over, that was fucking obvious, I just had zero knowledge about why.

He was breaking my heart, I asked him for a cuddle and he said no. He didn’t appear to have an ounce of care in him. I had a shower, and something made me pack an overnight bag. I don’t even remember doing it. As I came out of the bedroom, he punched the wall so hard it sounded like furniture had been thrown at it. I asked him if he was okay, I genuinely thought he had broken his hand. He told me to fuck off. He smashed another photo frame and cut his hand, again, when I tried to help him, he told me where to go.

With that, I went. I grabbed the bag I had packed (pleased with my organised self) and drove to my work bestie’s. I rang her on the way and said I was coming for a sleepover, which of course was no problem. She was fully sighted by now on the disaster that was my life.

I was so livid. What was he doing? Did I deserve that? Any of it? What had I done? What could I do to fix it? I knew the answer to that was “absolutely nothing, and do you really want to?”

He had blamed me that night for being busy at work for him not talking to me. Bollocks to that, I told him to try again.  He then told me that he hadn’t wanted to talk to me about whatever it was whilst I was dealing with my Grandpa passing away. I nearly hit the roof. Either, he was telling me that the past 3 months of support he had given me were absolute lies, or he was using my Grandpa as an excuse because he was a coward. Either way, I didn’t hold back with what I thought of him for that.

From that night I stayed at my friend’s, I didn’t properly ever go home. If we were going to both be home, I didn’t go back. By this point I had admitted to myself that I wasn’t safe, and that was one of the hardest things I had to do.  If we were working opposite shifts, I went home – more so to ensure he hadn’t changed the locks to be honest. Between my Court Trial which, having been warned for an optimistic 4 days, lasted 10, and trying to process all of this, it dawned on me that I really needed to find somewhere to live. And I needed to do it quickly.

29th March 2019 he told me to leave. 24th April 2019 I moved into my new home. Efficiency is a strong point of mine, but this really wasn’t something I was proud of. I still felt numb. I knew what I had to do, I didn’t know why, and maybe a part of me didn’t want to.

My friend went on holiday for 2 weeks during this month and I moved in there. Following yet another argument which started badly, ended horrendously and made me scared, the following day another friend from work went home with me and we moved everything I owned (minus furniture) to my friend’s where I was staying. I realised very quickly that no, I couldn’t trust him, and yes, he appeared to be a total stranger.

I wouldn’t have put it past him to damage anything of mine that was in that house. I needed it out. I went into robot mode really, and with the help of my Safeguarding background, for once I followed my own advice. I did everything I would tell the victim’s I frequently dealt with to do, and I did it quickly.

When I secured my new home, I didn’t tell him a moving date, because if this got delayed I knew he would be an utter arse about it. To this day, he never has asked whether I had found somewhere to live. I don’t actually think he cared.  He told me I had a month to get out, and that I did. He never answered me when I asked if there was someone else. My suspicions remain on that one..

Whilst moving out, I had to change all of the bills to his name and account details, get some stuff down to my parent’s – brother to the rescue again – and win the lottery. I’m still waiting for the latter.

Since moving out, I’ve ensured he doesn’t know my address, changed my car, and made as much distance as possible between us.  He ruined my home and the life I had built, I’d be damned if he was doing that again. This was now my safe place, he didn’t know where it was, and that was the biggest relief.

I’ve gone over everything  4 million times and still not found any answers. I’ve become more aware of things that went on in our relationship which I used to excuse, which now I think I should have seen as warning signs. Hindsight is a funny thing. But, for example – Sam on my old shift, one of my favourite girls, I saved in my phone as “Samantha” to save arguments. He always had issues with me having a social life, and would make me feel so guilty about it. He’d moan if I went to a friend’s for dinner, but would go out and watch the football every weekend. To be blunt, he didn’t like me doing things he wasn’t either involved in, or aware of. The icing on the cake really was when he hacked into my Whatsapp. See ya!

As a result of all of this, I have become an expert in saying “Always” when asked if I’m okay. I’ve put my guard so high up, quite frankly good luck to whoever tries to break it down. I struggle with compliments, because he clearly meant squat by it, so why should anyone else? He’s broken my confidence, which was never spectacularly high, into a million tiny pieces, and I hate him for it.

10 months on, I still feel broken, I still struggle, and I still don’t talk about everything that happened, maybe to protect myself, or maybe because I don’t want to admit it ever happened. But if I am honest, I also feel so relieved. If this was going to happen, best it happen now than years down the line. I’m free, I’m safe and I have nothing to feel guilty for.

2019.

If I wanted to be honest and really tell you how I feel when I think of 2019 I would say it was shit.  2019 was the year I lost my Grandpa, the year my husband walked out on me, and the year I felt more alone than I possibly ever have.

Losing my Grandpa was so incredibly hard.  He was my hero, the person I looked up to for everything. I would ring him every Friday night, we would talk rubbish, put the world to rights and he would tell me “you don’t want to be on response forever, you want to be on CID don’t you”.  Talk about a rhetorical question! I miss him every day, but in the same breath I’m so glad he’s not had to witness the majority of what 2019 threw my way.

I actually wrote a blog back in September to help me deal with point 2 above, I’ve never published it, but I’ve said it before that writing things down really does help. I’m a massive advocate of that. I came home one day and I no longer had a home. I moved into my friend’s house and within 2 weeks had started renting somewhere else. I know he is in a new relationship but he’s never had the decency to tell me the truth. “Just be honest” I used to plead. It got me nowhere.

It’s easy to focus on the negatives, after all, they controlled such a huge part of the year, and they literally changed my life. I felt like I had gone back 10 years, got very drunk and was stood on my head. I genuinely had absolutely no idea how to move forward.

It’s been an incredibly hard year for Policing too.  We have seen some really serious assaults on our colleagues, and the death of PC Harper. We have seen the stress of colleagues and friends as they’re always in early, off late, and still not making headway.  We hear the phrase “I have 9 outstanding immediate calls and nobody to send” more times than we would ever want the public to hear.  We’ve disappointed victims on more occasions than I wish to remember, had cases dealt with atrociously (in my opinion) at Court, and felt like we have been banging our heads on the metaphorical brick wall.

But it is so important to try and remember the positives. I can say that, because I am so bad at doing it! But without the positives we would drive ourselves insane.

In 2019 I set up a brand new home by myself.  I have rekindled old friendships and made some fantastic new ones. I have sent people to prison for approximately 30 years in total. I have progressed my career and have plans in place for 2020. I have worked some ridiculously long hours, but got some amazing results because of it.

You really do have to take a minute and think of the good. I bet every single one of you can think of one good thing 2019 had to offer.  Be it a holiday with a best friend, a coffee with an old friend, or a night in cuddled up on the sofa, you will all have something and that memory will make you smile.

Memories are an excuse to remember the good times.  Sod the bad ones, in the long run they only make us stronger.  They certainly do break us at the time, but we come back fighting and we come back stronger, we always do.

Here’s to a Happy and Healthy 2020 to all of you.  Thank you for your continued support, we couldn’t do what we do without you.

 

The Ultimate Sacrifice

It is an understatement to say that it has been a truly, truly awful couple of weeks for Policing.

3 outrageous assaults on our colleagues, and one murder.  It’s the kind of headlines you expect to see from other Countries, not from England, not here.

When we join the job, we do so to help you, to support your families in their times of need, to protect the most vulnerable and pursue the most dangerous.  We do so knowing that sometimes we may come home a little bumped and bruised.  We never joined to be killed.  It feels surreal even writing that, I don’t think any of us can really believe what has happened over the last few days.

PC Harper was one of us.  He was a man who joined the job and wanted to protect you. He literally gave the job every last thing he had, and we will never forget that.

Tonight, PC Harper’s wife, Lissie, has released a tribute to him. My god. If you haven’t already, you need to read it –

https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/news/thames-valley/news/2019/august/19-08-19/wife-of-pc-andrew-harper-issues-tribute/

Next time you want to speak badly of the Police – whether it be because we took too long to get to a job, we’re buying a coffee in McDonald’s, we didn’t arrest somebody, whatever the reason, please just take a minute and think.

Think of what job we may have just been coming from, think of what we’ve just heard on the radio, take the time to wonder when we actually last got to sit down on a meal break.

No matter what day of the year it is, no matter what time of the day it is, we are always, always there for you.

We literally run towards the danger as you run away. We hold your loved ones when we’ve told them the worst news. We support you in your time of need. We spend time with your children so they’re not scared of us and our uniform. We’ll cancel our own plans so that we can finish our job.  We’ll miss birthdays, Christmas’s, anniversaries, weddings.

We’ll try to explain to our nearest and dearest that no, we don’t work Monday-Friday and yes, the next weekend we’re off and free really is in three months time. We’ll Facetime our families when they’re all together so that we aren’t totally missing out.

We miss so much, but we do it because we joined this job to protect you, to keep you safe, and to do our best.

And yes, sometimes our best isn’t good enough, but we are only human.

Nobody should go to work and never come home.  No colleague should have to perform that level of first aid on somebody wearing our own uniform. No family should be told that they’re loved one isn’t returning.

PC Harper gave the ultimate sacrifice on Thursday night.  He will forever remain one of us. He’s a true hero.

X

“We need a new scheme”

We, as Police, constantly seem to want a new project. A new scheme. A new way to do things.

One thing I will never understand is this incessant need to try and fix something that isn’t broken. If something works, if the public know what to expect, and the Police know how to do our job, leave it alone. It works for a reason.

We are really good at finding something that works, and rocking the boat so hard it actually breaks. New policies or working practices which change so frequently you can’t get your head around them before the next one is rolled out.

There’s many mixed reviews around the Direct Entry and Fast Track schemes. I currently have a Direct Entry Inspector and I’ve recently had a Fast Track Sergeant.

I would make only a few points:

1. It takes a certain type of person to be able & competent to do those schemes.

2. Fast Track doesn’t mean they’re better, they’re really not.

3. Experience is more important than rank. If you’ll listen & take advice from those who have done the job for years, you’ll likely be better off.

4. They do however, bring other skills to the table and different experiences.

5. I think I prefer Direct Entry to Fast Track as a scheme. Generally people with more life experience, previous careers, people skills & ability. Fast Track (in my opinion) attracts young, inexperienced people, not good leaders.

And on the subject of schemes…let’s all have a degree! No, let’s not.

I have a degree, do I use it every day in my job? No. Does it benefit me, yes of course. Should it be compulsory? No definitely not.

Being a Police Officer requires 3 main things:

1. The skill to listen

2. The ability to empathise

3. The desire to protect the most vulnerable & convict the most evil.

Three things that I would suggest you wouldn’t ever learn from studying for a degree. Some of the best Police Officers I know don’t have degrees, and it’s people like them that these ridiculous schemes will ignore. As with the Direct Entry & Fast Track schemes, taking promotion opportunities away from very, very competent and able PCs.

Rarely, very rarely, is somebody extremely practical as well as being extremely academic. Often we are one or the other.

Policing is a practical job. It’s a do-ing job. Yes of course there’s paperwork, but no, it’s not like writing a dissertation (although it may feel it sometimes!)

It’s the ability to comfort those after you’ve broken the worst news to them.

It’s the going to work and missing family events to protect the public.

It’s risking our own lives and safety to protect yours.

It’s sitting with you for hours in your mental health crisis, trying to comfort you.

It’s working late every day to finish a job, to get the right result, and cancelling yet another plan.

It’s juggling home and life and shifts and sleep and how the hell don’t I have a free weekend for 15 weeks?

It’s the hardest, but the most rewarding job there is.

The one thing it’s not, is something you learn from a textbook.

An epidemic?

At what point do we start properly acting on what is being brandished in the media as a knife crime epidemic?

An epidemic is “a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time

Ebola was an epidemic. The Ebola outbreak received mutual aid from across the world, the Army were sent with little to no notice to Sierra Leonne for an unknown amount of time in a hope to help. It took the Government virtually no time at all to hold a meeting to agree that immediate action needed to be taken. They saw people die, children die, thousands suffering, for months on end.

Knife crime is an epidemic. The media and some politicians have got as far as stating that it is such a thing, but they’re yet to actually deal with it. Why?

“There will be more Police in the City to tackle the rise in knife crime.” No, there will be the same amount of Police. Those boosted numbers are officers on overtime, on a cancelled rest day, on a day that should have been annual leave.

Some Police Forces are having extra funding to help. But it really is a sticking plaster. It’s extra funding to pay for the overtime, it’s not extra funding to replace the 20,000+ Police Officers that have been lost over the last few years.

And it’s not just London either. This is a national problem. In Birmingham, Manchester, the biggest cities and the smallest towns. People carry knives on a daily basis. Children carry knives. Children are killing each other. The number of people under the age of 16 I see in Custody on a weekly basis for possession of a knife/blade/machete/weapon is terrifying.

Surely, surely this is an epidemic. And surely it deserves the same action from the Government as other epidemics do that are thousands of miles away.

Before I transferred to my current Force I worked on response in a much more rural area. I was on a shift that paraded 1 Sergeant and 7 PCs (on a very, very good day) We covered an enormous area, with backup 20 minutes away on a blue light run.

This week just gone my old shift dealt with a murder. The response car that was sent to the murder was single crewed. The response car sent to the murder was the only response car in the entire patch. To a murder. There really are no words.

Anybody who tells me that there isn’t a correlation between a lack of Police and a rise in crime are living in cloud cuckoo land.

We deal with it every day. In every role. The pressures are immense. There aren’t enough of us to pretend to do the job we love well enough. We do our best, but that isn’t the same as doing well enough. We let people down every single day.

So when will this epidemic be dealt with as seriously as it is? When will we get support?

I welcome any Politician to come and work with me for a day and I dare them to tell us that we aren’t struggling.

“I live at work and visit my house sometimes”

As I sit here writing this post, I have just finished my 12th day of my 14 day stretch, having had one rest day 9 days ago.

Knackered doesn’t cover it.

Sometimes with this job, we sacrifice a lot. We miss our home, we don’t see our friends, we cancel our plans and we mainly function on caffeine.

I am currently into week two of a Crown Court trial. Having owned this incident since the day it happened back in September 2018, it seems slightly strange that within a matter of days it will all be over.

If I mention the victim’s name at work everyone on my team knows about it.

I know this case inside out, arguably better than I know my own life sometimes!

I have spoken to the victim and their mother every week for the last seven months.

I have gained the trust of a victim who was so terrified of being hurt again that they wouldn’t tell me the truth intially.

And I have spent the last two weeks supporting the victim and their mother through arguably the toughest two weeks yet.

Long hours, far too many early shifts (!) and a lot of coffee appears to be a good setup for now.

Hearing the defendants give their version of events. Being called a liar. Hearing them not tell the truth as we believe it to be. Listening to the barristers go over and over every little tiny detail about what happened. Watching the Jury’s reaction as they watch and listen to the evidence.

It’s emotionally exhausting. It’s sometimes impossible to listen to the detail being repeated, denied, twisted and distorted.

Seven months of supporting my victim.

Seven months of bloody hard work to get the best evidence.

Seven months of arguments with CPS.

Seven months of chasing medical evidence.

Seven months of blood, sweat and tears. I just hope for my victim we get the right result.

I really, really do.

Walk a mile in my shoes

People join “the job” for a number of reasons, from interviewing the bad guys, protecting the good guys, driving really fast and everything in between.

From the very first day of our Policing career, we lace up our shiny new boots and tackle the day ahead.  Be it during our 15 weeks of initial training when we are having law and policy rammed down our throats, or during the next 30 years of our career wherever that may take us, the reality is that our trusty pair of boots are really the only thing that understand exactly what we have been through. The stories they could tell…

Our families, our friends and the public all see and hear about investigations that the Police are carrying out, people that the Police need to speak to, and generally ludicrous sentences that are given out at Court.  The problem is, our families, our friends and the public all see what the press want them to see, in the way that the press want them to see it, and often conveniently leaving out key bits of information which, although factually correct, perhaps doesn’t make such a good headline.

I work a 9 day shift pattern. 3 earlies, 3 lates, 3 rest days. As far as shift patterns go, it really isn’t that bad. I don’t currently work night shifts which means I don’t feel and look like I’ve been hit by a nine tonne truck, and having three days off feels like a proper break at the end of our working week to re-charge our batteries and have a bit of a life!

During my six working days, I am often off late at least 50% of the time, sometimes by only an hour, sometimes by more than four.  The best way to avoid disappointment is to not make plans after earlies. Having to cancel on people is worse than not having the arrangement in the first place.

In theory I am duty for 50% of my working week, and the remaining 50% I get to progress the 24 other investigations I own currently.  In reality, I am duty for closer to 70% as there aren’t enough of us (shock) to deal with the volume of prisoners coming through, with the number of stabbings being called in, and the number of violent disorders occurring on a more than weekly basis.

So the reality is that the other 24 investigations that I own get ignored, pushed to one side and have to wait.  That’s 24 victims being failed, 24 victims with updates far later than deserved, and 24 victims left disappointed in the lack of service the Police have provided.

If you imagine a puppy running in circles chasing its tail, that’s a fairly good representation.  Although I expect I look less cute and more haggard than a playful pup. After three very needed rest days, the drive to work on the first early back generally consists of me making a mental to do list, dreading the amount of emails that have landed (especially if I’ve had mid-week rest days, as CPS have been at work…) and constructing some kind of game plan for the week ahead.

Sometimes, it’s really bloody knackering. It’s really hard. It can feel impossible and leave you questioning how on earth you’re meant to do this job.

But other times, I get a fantastic result, a decent sentence at Court, and it reminds me why I do what I do, why I love this job, and why it really is the job like no other.