Today, the BBC have published an article on the increase in the number of police officers having to take sick leave with Mental Health related issues due to the nature of their work. Following on from the article, BBC Radio 5Live interviewed DCC Andy Rhodes & Sgt Ed Simpson in their morning show to discuss this topic. It made for a very interesting discussion & listening to Sgt Ed Simpson giving a very brave, open & honest account of his experience of developing PTSD & depression through the stresses of his role was enlightening.
At the same time however, listening to Sgt Simpson brought back a flood of my own feelings of guilt at having reported my case to the police.
It is not necessary to go into the details of my case suffice to say it involved 39 years of horrific sexual & physical abuse & involved multiple offenders. During the course of the subsequent police investigation I went on to be diagnosed with C-PTSD as a direct result of the abuse (this should hopefully provide an understanding of the level of abuse endured).
It took years – a life time – to find the courage to finally contact police & report what was happening. The case was complex & involved countless interviews to give my evidence. There were a few times during the interviews, when having to graphically describe the abuse, one of the officers asked to be excused because he found it too distressing. I immediately thought I had said something wrong, I questioned whether I shouldn’t be giving these details, whether I should have stayed silent. This occurred on a few occasions & I ended up feeling guilty that I had put this officer through this ordeal, that by reporting my abuse had resulted in causing distress to the officers involved. I remember an occasion when I attended for an interview following a violent physical assault & the officer reeling at my visible injuries when I walked into the room. I felt guilty that he had to see me in this condition.
During the course of the subsequent investigation I attempted suicide twice & again I know that had a negative effect on the officers involved – I feel tremendous guilt for that, even though I accept the attempts were symptomatic of my own PTSD. When one of the cases went to trial I felt extremely guilty for the police officer who was tasked with accompanying me at all times to ensure I didn’t commit suicide after having to give evidence. I remember crossing a bridge over the river & immediately assessing the height of the drop, the speed of the water – calculating whether this would be a suitable spot should I feel the need to make the ultimate escape – the officer knew I was having these thoughts, I knew he knew & the level of stress he was under did not escape me. It racked me with guilt.
After the conclusion of my cases at the beginning of this year, I had the opportunity of having an informal chat about my case. I know the DI had sleepless nights over the management of the case, he has said it was the most complex case he has so far had to deal with. I have been told that some of the officers involved requested to speak to a counsellor due to the nature of the case.
All of this makes me feel personally responsible & extremely guilty that by contacting police I have caused this level of distress for those officers involved. I have been told that ‘it’s their job’ & ‘that’s what they are there for’ but that doesn’t erase the guilt I feel – officers should not have to suffer as a result of my own suffering. I feel incredibly guilty that I put officers through that & caused them distress as a result. I am truly sorry for that.