Historic sex abuse victim speaks out about treatment as case went through courts

A woman who was sexually abused when she was a child has spoken out after taking her case to court, saying system is “not supporting victims”.

Warning: The following content may be distressing to read.

Eileen Martin and her sister were abused as children by their uncle, who was a teenager at the time.

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In the summer of 2019, 40 years later, they found the courage to approach the police and formally report the crime.

Edinburgh crime news: Historic sex abuse victim speaks out about treatment as case goes through the courts

They waited three years for the trial to take place, and have described the eventual process as “f**k up after f**k up”.

Eileen said the Procurator Fiscal office tried several times to persuade them not to attend the trial, or the verdict.

"We’ve waited all these years for this,” she explained. “They thought because I suffered from mental health problems, that I would be trouble.

"It’s an open court, we went to walk in, and [one of the court workers] said we shouldn’t.

Edinburgh crime news: Historic sex abuse victim speaks out about treatment as case goes through the courts

"I asked them ‘why, you think we’re going to go mental?’ and they responded ‘that’s my worry’.”

On the day of the verdict, she said: "We were at a cafe across the road, we had our phones on the tables waiting to get the call to go back to court, like they said they would, and it didn’t happen.”

They finally returned to the court to find the verdict had been read and the process was over and they had missed it.

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Their uncle received a community sentence after being found guilty of two charges of sexual abuse.

Edinburgh crime news: Historic sex abuse victim speaks out about treatment as case goes through the courts
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Eileen continued: “It’s not the fact that he didn’t get jail, it was the way we were treated.

"Like they didn’t remember that we were the victims here. This is my life.”

She also added that lawyers for both sides kept saying her name incorrectly.

The charges against her uncle were changed half way through the trial, and Eileen said she and her sister were not kept informed of these changes.

"No one seems to think, ‘what would make the experience better for us’. They're just not supporting victims.”

The day her abuser was sentencedand the process was over, Eileen describes as the first day she felt shame for what had happened.

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"I would have committed suicide in Edinburgh that day,” she said. “Most child abusers aren’t stereotypical monsters.

"If you are a vulnerable child, they can make you feel loved and cared for. That’s how it happens.”

All the way through the process, Eileen said she felt herself asking “but, what about us?”

Eileen and her sister spent their childhood in care, and after suffering abuse multiple times, they testified at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said: “We understand the impact involvement in the criminal justice system can have on victims, and all staff work hard to ensure they are treated with dignity and respect.

“The complainers in the case have been supported throughout the prosecution process by our dedicated Victim Information and Advice staff.

“Senior officials from COPFS have offered to meet with them to discuss their concerns.”

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The High Court in Edinburgh convicted Reginald Maxwell of two charges of sexual abuse of two girls, with the offences happening between 1977 and 1980.

Rape Crisis Scotland: 08088 01 03 02

Samaritans: 116 123

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