#AceNewsReport – June.24: She was reassured she wouldn’t see my abuser – then I saw him in Sainsbury’s and it shook me to my core,” she said.
WALES: Sex abuse victim’s shock at seeing attacker back in community: A victim of sexual abuse has said she cannot heal with her attacker now living back in her community: Despite being told she would not see the man when he left prison because he was housebound due to his poor health, Leah Walker was “devastated” when she bumped into him at a supermarket but monitoring dangerous prison leavers in a pandemic has become even more difficult with one in 40′ young women sexually assaulted per year
By Jenny Rees
BBC Wales home affairs correspondentLeah Walker says she cannot heal knowing her abuser is in the community
The Ministry of Justice has been asked to comment.
Leah, 32, was sexually abused from the age of seven through to adulthood. Her abuser was jailed in 2017 for 25 counts of indecent and sexual assault.
She was finally starting to heal when he was released into the community having served half of his six-year sentence.
“They reassured me that he’s of such ill health that he won’t be out of his home. But he’s still really close to me – I was absolutely devastated,” said Leah, who has waived her right to anonymity.
Within a few months, she bumped into him while food shopping.
“I feel like back when I was a child and I wasn’t listened to, it was brushed under the carpet – this is how I’m feeling again.
“I’ve voiced my concerns and let them know that I’m really not happy and I’m not comfortable with him being there and they reassured me that I won’t see him – but I did.”
“It shook me to my core when I saw him”, said Leah Walker
Leah also said a relative saw her abuser at a nearby takeaway on the weekend and she has raised it again with probation.
She explained the resultant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression could leave her with flashbacks.
“Whilst he was in prison you start to build yourself up. I told myself: ‘I’m a stronger person. I went to court. I got justice,’ and my life was on a better track.
“But then you get knocked back and everything just seemed to unravel.
“For me to be able to heal in the way that I should – and the way that I deserve to – he shouldn’t be in an area that I am. I feel my needs should be listened to and heard.”
The victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC, said victims should always be considered by the Probation Service when releasing offenders to avoid such “shock or distress”.
“Victims who are in the government’s Victim Contact Scheme are offered the opportunity to request licence conditions, such as exclusion zones or no contact, so as to provide them with the peace of mind they will not meet the offender by chance close to where they live or work,” she said.
“Victims sometimes attach great importance to these conditions, not least as it gives them a sense of control – something they did not have when the crimes against them were committed.”
Leah says she was not taken seriously when she first spoke up as a child
For Leah, it took years – and a global movement – to have the courage to speak up again.
Aged seven, she disclosed what was happening, but was not taken seriously.
It was only years later that the #MeToo movement gave her the confidence to seek justice.
“I started to think ‘OK, so I’m not on my own. This has happened to other women and they seem like they’re coping, so maybe I can have the courage to speak out as well.’
“Seeing things in the media helped me come to my decision to take it to court and I think it’s really, really important that other people going through the same thing see a face out there that’s been through it.
“And even though I’m still struggling – there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
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#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Jun.24: 2021:
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