A few weeks ago I wrote that I was going to testify in court. I’ve been trying to figure out if we won or lost. Tell me what you think.
The Victim Services advocate greeted my husband and me as we entered the county court house. She led us to a tiny witness waiting room. It contained a small table, four chairs and that’s it. No art on the walls. No windows. I sat in a plastic chair, nervously going over the notes I had jotted down for my testimony. My job was to tell the judge how the abuse has impacted the 10-year-old Joyful and 9-year-old Watchful.
The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) arrived. Then the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) showed up with a GAL-in-training. We made small talk as we waited for our trial to begin.
A lady walked into the foyer outside the courtroom. I greeted her and she noted that she was there to be a support the kids’ mom, who was up on criminal charges. My guess was that she was a Christian who befriended people in jail. Over the next hour, mom’s family members trickled in to show their support.
The kids’ dad showed up next. I walked over to him to apologize that I was going to have say some very difficult things when I testified. He said he understood.
Our case was called. We all filed in, with those supporting mom sitting on the right-hand side and those for the children sitting on the left-hand side. It made me feel so sad that there wasn’t a place to sit to signify you are for both.
The judge decided to disallow all other testimony except mine and mom’s. Awkward!!
The state lawyer called me up on the witness stand. As I sat perched in front of everyone, my stomach flip flopped. Please God let me say what needs to be said, I silently prayed. The state lawyer asked me about the impact of mom’s actions and I listed all of the major symptoms the children have displayed while living in our home for the past nine months. Just the facts, no judgement value, but I gave examples. It was a long and heart-breaking list. Many people in the court room started to cry.
Mom made her statement. By and large she took responsibility for her actions, expressed remorse, and said the sort of things that would help the children heal if they ever read the testimony once they are old enough.
The state attorney had thought the sentence would be in the 2 year range and had asked me to testify to support his request to the judge to pass a longer sentence. Mom got 8 years.
So, the kids are safe for the next 8 years. But their family is fractured beyond repair. Win or Loss?