What to Expect If You Must Testify Against Your Abuser
If you must testify against the person who abused you during a trial, it’s normal to feel scared and overwhelmed. While you may feel fear over facing the person in court, telling your truth can be a critical part of your healing process.
First, you should know that you don’t have to go through this alone. There’s help available to you. Reach out to an attorney who can assist you through the process and lean on your support system such as friends and family for strength. You can also use the tips below to help you prepare.
How to Prepare to Testify
The first step in preparing to testify is to create a written account of the events. You’ll want to include dates if you know them, what happened and what led up to the event. Try to remember as much detail as possible.
The goal here isn’t to memorize your testimony. Instead, this exercise is to refresh your memory so you’ll be more prepared to answer questions while in court.
The next step is to reach out for support in preparing for court. If you haven’t done so already, contact a counselor or therapist who can give you tools for managing stress during this time. And don’t forget to take time for self-care.
What Testifying in Court Is Like
What can you expect while you give your testimony? First, you’ll need to take an oath that you will tell the truth. Next, your attorney will ask you questions about the events.
After your attorney is finished, your abuser’s attorney will be able to conduct a cross-examination. During cross-examination, the attorney will ask you questions to try and reduce your credibility. This is all a part of the typical trial process.
How to Get Through Your Testimony
The key thing to remember is this: tell the truth. Answer all questions truthfully, even if you have to say, “I don’t remember” or “I’m not sure.” Those are perfectly acceptable answers in any case.
Be sure to listen to all questions carefully before giving your answer, and do your best to remain calm. If you need to, you can ask the attorney to restate their question.
Bring a bottle of water with you to sip on during your testimony. While you should dress nicely for court, don’t wear something uncomfortable. It’s possible your testimony could take some time.
Reach Out to a Caring Attorney Today
Help is available to you right now. If you’re in a dangerous situation, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 800-799-7233 now.