What should you on the trial day?
Exercise your story
Although you were abused regularly, it is possible that you never had the opportunity to sit and expose coherently and consistently the facts in the order that they occurred. By practising the recounting of the events in front of another person you will be less emotional when giving testimony in front of the court. At the same time, it is welcomed to exercise your story because you will be able to remember new important details.
You should speak about the circumstances of your case in a clear manner in your own words. Try to focus on the relevant details of the violence or harassment acts, or other behaviour you described in the complaint. For example, when you describe an event during which the abuser hit you, explain how you were hit, on which side of the body, give details about the intensity of the hits (if there were various hits), what pain or injuries you suffered, if the perpetrator used any gun or object that produced injuries when hitting you, etc. If you speak about the threats used by the perpetrator, do not paraphrase by saying: ‘He threatened to kill me’. Try to remember in detail what words were used for example, ‘He threatened to cut my neck and throw me in the river’. In other words, any detail is important.
You should make a short presentation or notes for yourself about incidents of violence you have experienced. You can ask the judge if you may use the notes while giving testimony. But you must be prepared to speak without them if they are not accepted; moreover, reading the declarations about the acts of violence creates the impression of untruth for the court and other participants in the trial.
If you have children and they were abused, we recommend you consult a lawyer specialised in cases of domestic violence on how to present the evidence of child abuse.
Some additional tips!
- Come on time
- The witnesses should be present and ready to testify
- The evidence must be prepared
- If you have witnesses or documents that are not included as evidence in your case, ask the court through a request to attach them and/or to hear the persons as witnesses.
- Dress appropriately
- Speak directly to the judge, he or she will understand if you are nervous
- Be ready to spend all the day in the court (other cases may be heard before yours). If you have children, try to find someone to take care of them while you are at the court
- If the abuser comes to the court with a lawyer, it is recommended for you to ask a delay in order to find a lawyer too.
- While you wait for the court hearing, you can change your place if the perpetrator sits next to you and to ask the court staff to keep him away from you. Notify the court police officer that you are afraid for your safety
- Stand up when the judge enters the room and sit down when the judge allows to do so
- Try to stay calm, but it is not a problem if you show your emotions
- Take a deep breath if you feel tensed. Never loose control in the court
- Always say the truth
- During the court hearing speak to the court/judge using the words: ‘Your Honour’ and while standing make declarations, make requests and answer the questions
- If you do not understand a question, just say it. Do not answer a question you do not understand
- Never invent an answer
- Remember that you know your story better than anyone, so, you are the expert. Do not allow the judge or the lawyer to unbalance you