Who Has Victim Support Scotland Helped?
Over the past 30 years, Victim Support Scotland has helped thousands of victims and witnesses of crime cope with and recover from their experience. See below for examples of victims we have helped.
You may have seen Kevin on STV news talking about Victim Support Scotland. Here is more of his story.
Click on the image above to play Kevin’s video.
“You never really imagine it happening to you. You see it on the television and read about it in the media – you take it on board for a few minutes, make a few comments about society, point fingers at what and who is responsible and then you get on with your life. I did all of this myself on so many occasions but then one night it did happen to me and my world and perspective of crime changed. About 8 years ago I was the victim of a violent assault which resulted in me nearly dying from blood loss and being left with a significant facial scar. I tried to do what I believed to be the right thing and calm down a violent situation outside a pub and it all went wrong. I was hit over the head with a baseball bat and a vodka bottle. That night I changed, the world around me changed and my life changed.
When you become the victim of crime it’s not just the physical injuries that you are left to deal with. There may also be an impact psychologically. I had to deal with the trauma and the fact that I nearly died at 26. I questioned why it happened to me – had I done something to deserve it? Could I have done something differently to prevent it? Was it my own fault? After the attack my physical injuries were healing amazingly, it was the psychological ones that were the bigger issue. I suffered from a loss of self belief and self worth. My world became a place of staying safe and avoiding situations where I would be at risk. I cut myself off from my friends, family and the world. My confidence and belief was in tatters.
Thankfully I got help from a number of people, such as my GP and a psychologist called Laura who diagnosed me with a condition called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Laura told me I had to face my fears, rebuild my self confidence and self worth and she gave me the skills to do this. It was a long process but as I went through this process I was supported by Victim Support Scotland.
I didn’t use Victim Support as much as I should have when the incident first happened. It was one of my friends who had a partner that worked with them that made me aware of the organisation. She told me that I might be entitled to compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, that Victim Support would be able to assist me with this and also provide me with practical and emotional support. She told me that it was a confidential organisation that would be there for me, that they wouldn’t judge me and that they are separate from the police. She said that they would understand what I was going through and could offer some kind of help. And they did. Victim Support took so much weight off of my shoulders. They handled my compensation claim, and they were an ear for me to voice my frustrations to. My case never went to trial but they assured me that if it did their Witness Service would support me through going to court. They provided so much emotional and practical support and I needed that so badly.
Once I had my PTSD under control, I decided I wanted to give a bit back to Victim Support as a thank you for all their help. I also wanted this negative experience to be used to do some good and my psychologist had told me that volunteering is good for self-esteem, and I can confirm that this is the case. I really enjoy the work I do with Victim Support. I am out and about in the community offering practical and emotional help to victims and witnesses of crimes and their families if they need it. I’ve had excellent training and continued support from everyone within the organisation. I’ve also been told that it will be really good experience to have for when I have completed my degree in Psychology. Victim Support has been brilliant for me both as a victim of crime and also as a volunteer. It is an amazing organisation to be involved with and it is so flexible in terms of working round my university course and my work.”
"I could never have guessed that watching a TV programme with my wife one night would bring me to the realisation that I had not been alone in being the victim of abuse many years before. I had always hated school, perhaps it was the golf shoes being thrown at us or the other punishments I was given. The abuse had found a hiding place in my head and never been discussed or dealt with. I had never truly realised the impact the crime had on my life, lifestyle, relationships and my mental health. I struggled with confidence issues, relationships and depression for many years. I never really socialised and only found solace and confidence in alcohol. I struggled to cope with everyday life but never really associated it with the events of my childhood.
Watching the TV programme brought memories flooding back, memories which had been shut away in the dark space in my head for so many years. The sudden realisation that I had not been alone compelled me to contact the police. Statements were then made and when further information was to be collected, I was only part of a larger investigation which it was anticipated would last some time; further interviews with 2 specialist police officers were required. The investigating officers could not have been more helpful and understanding. They ensured I was given time and information along with contacts for support agencies.
One of the agencies they put me in touch with was Victim Support Scotland and I reluctantly agreed to see what they could do for me. I have been attending for around 2 years now. Initially, I attended weekly for intensive support with dealing with the crime itself, the effects it had on my life and moving forward. Initial sessions were difficult but I grew more and more comfortable and quickly felt more able to speak with them. As time went on my need to engage with them became less frequent but they were always available to answer questions and support when needed.
As time progressed and there were important changes in the investigations, Victim Support once again increased the level and frequency of the support. It was of great comfort to know that my feelings and reactions were normal and they referred me for specialist support when necessary.
Victim Support has helped me every step of the way, from speaking to the police to get updates on the investigation, to providing me with explanations of the process and assurances that they would be there to support me every step of the way. They have helped me move on in life, assisted with the process of dealing with the crime and supported me with information regarding the criminal proceedings. It has made a difficult subject and process so much easier to deal with knowing that they are there to support me and that I have someone to discuss anxieties with, ask questions or seek advice from.
I finally feel more positive about life and am beginning to deal with the events of the past and the effects it has had on me. I have even been encouraged to continue and move forward with my small business venture. I will continue to engage with the service for as long as I need and am extremely relieved to know that they are there for me throughout. I cannot express my gratitude to all the staff and volunteers for what is an invaluable service."
"My experience with anti-social behaviour began in January 2012 on moving into my new home, a top floor flat within a block of four. Within the first few weeks, the tenant below me was causing me some concern with loud music, singing, shouting abuse and using foul language. I was new to the area and I did not want to upset anyone, so I tried to talk to the tenant and ask that we sort things out between us, and this was agreed.
However, over time things got much worse, so much so that I had to call in the police. I was constantly phoning them, and on several occasions they spoke with the tenant before moving on to physically removing and arresting my neighbour, which happened many times.
This had a significant impact on my life for the next 2 years. I was not sleeping, and my life was revolving around my neighbour’s outbursts; I often had to sleep on the couch in order to escape the singing, shouting etc. I became very upset and moody with it all. This also had an impact on my family life, as on a few occasions when I had my granddaughter to stay, she witnesses my neighbour’s abuse, and saw him being arrested by the police at all hours.
When the police put me in touch with Gill at Victim Support Scotland I felt as if I had real support. Gill was great - she kept in contact with me on a regular basis, updating me with relevant information on how to keep a diary for the housing association, keeping me informed of the core meetings, and advising me on how to deal with the police. Gill has a very calming and supportive manner, and it helped so much just talking to her, knowing she was there at the end of a phone.
I had not been aware that I could get help from Victim Support for this kind of issue before I was put in touch with them. I am grateful for their support as it made things so much better for me.
When things were at their worst, my neighbour was placed on an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) which I hoped would make things a bit better. However, things just got worse, and this led to my neighbour losing his home. I was overwhelmed with guilt at this; it upset me a great deal as it was never what I had wanted to happen, despite my neighbour making my life unbearable. When the eviction took place, I felt a mixture of anger, guilt and relief.
Thankfully my life is so much better now, the new tenant is very nice and more importantly is very quiet! I was sad when my contact with Gill ended but I know that she and Victim Support are always there should I ever need assistance in the future. I have considered being a volunteer with Victim Support in the future, and look forward to being able to do this."
Sarah was a happy normal teenager of 18 when she went on a night out that ended in trauma and injury.
She was attacked at a club and hit over the head with a bottle. Her attacker ripped out clumps of her hair and left her bleeding from the head and in need of hospital treatment.
Once the initial physical effects were dealt with, Sarah found herself suffering badly from the emotional impact of the crime. She was frightened of strangers, scared to go out alone and completely lacking in confidence.
Her normal day-to-day life was shattered by the attack and she felt she couldn’t even face going out to work.
Fortunately, Victim Support Scotland received the information about the attack very soon after it happened and was able to support Sarah quickly and effectively.
A volunteer got in touch and met Sarah over a period of time, helping her work through her feelings about what had happened and taking practical steps to ease the effects.
Sarah said: “My volunteer got me a personal safety alarm and that has really helped me. She talked things through with me and thanks to the practical suggestions she made, I feel like my confidence is coming back again. I’m so grateful for the help I have received.”
"I had started a new relationship and thought everything was good. My partner was always very loud so I ignored the shouting. I was a single mum and so when he accepted my child I thought everything was OK. Like everyone we had arguments, but these got worse as time went by – he would throw things at me and then walk away. He was always right. He soon started taking me everywhere I wanted to go; even on nights out he would take me there and fetch me back. I was not allowed my own money unless he gave it to me. He soon controlled everything. I was a woman who would say what I thought and did not tolerate fools, so my friends soon noticed a change in me as I was unhappy and withdrawn.
Time went by, and we had a child together. He became even more controlling. The children and I would take trays upstairs to eat away from him as it was a way to escape from him. He was always calling me and the children names –we were stupid, I was fat and useless, and he would always blame me and put me down causing my self-esteem to go. He became violent too, and would push me, or kick me. He started to physically and psychologically abuse my kids. I was alone – my parents had died and I had nowhere to go as everyone was scared of him. I had tried to leave him before but he would trick me into coming back, swearing it wouldn’t happen again but of course it did.
He kept me locked in the house, taking my keys and mobile phone off me as well as unplugging the house phone so that I could not go out or contact anyone. I was petrified but was not going to show him. I knew I needed to go. Eventually I spoke to the police and a solicitor and made arrangements to leave. I stayed with a friend and in a B&B at first. My older child had to go stay with a member of the family. We did not know how long this would last; it was heartbreaking for us to be split up.
My ex-partner would send texts and constantly phoned me, yelling threats down the phone. I was really scared. Eventually we were given a place in a refuge; it was a scary feeling and lots of other women with children were there but it had to be better than what we had been through. I could not think - my brain was like a mushy pea. But we were soon made to feel safe and welcome.
Eventually I had a house of my own and both my children but my ex would not leave us alone - he would stalk us and manipulate my oldest child. He did not like it as I was moving on and had found someone new. Because the police where we stayed rated us a high risk to the point of homicide, I knew the only way was to away which would mean the heartache of leaving my older child, my friends and family - my whole life.
Now I am happily married and my youngest child is settled and has a special bond with my husband. We still have struggles at times, like making sure the door is locked in case my ex-partner ever comes near as sadly he knows an area where we are. I suffer from anxieties from time to time and check on my child as she sleeps. I sometimes forget things and places. My husband has shared our tears and felt our pain and heartache. We lost nearly all our belongings and personal things that can never be replaced. As for my ex, I no longer hate him - I feel nothing for him now, as it was his loss and I hope I can help others to be as strong as me. I am no longer a victim - I am a survivor.
Victim Support helped me by listening to me, and putting me in contact with other organisations that I needed. I now volunteer with Victim Support Scotland’s Witness Service at a Sheriff Court. As a Witness Service volunteer I show people around the court before they appear in court so they become familiar with the court room and are not so scared. I do this to help others and to give back something to the people who helped me and my daughter be who we are today, where we are living a better life.VSS is so important to anyone who has been a victim of crime; even if it is only a small crime, they are there for you. They are sympathetic, a shoulder to share your burdens, they care and can help you find the right people you need to support you through difficult times and help you get your life back. Like me, the volunteers could also have been a victim so they know your fears."
"In 2014 I was raped by my husband, from whom I had separated. For a time after it happened, I was in shock. I was angry and felt ashamed. I also was suffering from breast cancer at the time so I had to deal with that too. I didn’t report the crime until around 4 months after it happened; I was frightened of him as he had threatened me, and I felt that if I didn’t see him and he stayed away from me I would be ok. But one day I saw him in the town, and decided that I needed to report it to the police. Although the case didn’t go to court, I am still glad that I reported this as it means that if he does this again, the police will know of his past and it could help someone else.
I thought I was coping ok with it myself, but I was wrong. I even felt suicidal at one point. My doctor and the police had both suggested speaking with Victim Support, and I did this at a later point when I felt that I needed someone to talk to.
I spoke with someone from Victim Support Scotland on the phone, and she also visited me at home. She helped me realise that what happened wasn’t my fault, and helped me build up my confidence. She also helped me see that alcohol doesn’t give the person the right to rape you, and no amount of gifts can put this right.
Recovering would not have been possible without the fantastic support I received from Victim Support. Although I still have the odd nightmare and I won’t go out at night unless I have company, I now have people saying how well I am looking, and I have a great social life with great family and friends. This wouldn’t have been the outcome if it wasn’t for VSS - I feel that I owe my life to them.
My advice is: please don’t suffer on your own. Use Victim Support as they are very caring to your needs. They never judge you, and are nothing but a power of strength to help you over whatever it is that you have experienced."
"In 2014 I was raped, which left me shocked, scared and confused. When it first happened I got little support and felt like the best thing to do was to try to forget about the whole thing, which is easier said than done. Over the next year, my life turned to constant worry of another letter from the Procurator Fiscal of a court date. When I got a phone call saying he had pled not guilty and the trial was to go ahead it was one of the lowest points of my life - I panicked and was petrified.
But the Witness Service and Victim Service are one of the best services ever to help. Before any trial went ahead the Witness Service had me in the court for a visit and talked me through the court process; they showed me how the screen worked and how the court was set up. It was still really daunting but they put me at ease.
On the date of the trial the court I was in meant going through other offices which I was dreading. The Victim Information and Advice (VIA) officer and Witness Service team arranged to meet me to take me to the witness room. I was alone and felt at a loss but I had a supporter who stayed with me and gave me all the information and encouragement to stand in court; they also sat behind me and although they couldn't speak or look at me it was a great comfort knowing I was not alone.
The whole court ordeal was very difficult and afterwards I needed some support which Victim Support offered, even after a positive verdict of guilty they supported me. It was the scariest time of my life and I can't thank them enough for helping me through it."
False names have been used to protect the identity of our service users. Pictures are for illustrative purposes only.