One of the first times I observed a trial unfold, I was struck by the similarities between the victim and the defendant, it was very clear that they were both harbouring struggles with their mental health.
Whilst I am in no way minimising the trauma felt by the victim, it was so obvious to me that at some point, the perpetrator had experienced similiar too. At the time, I had just begun yet another round of anti-depressants and so, this observation was not lost on me.
When I looked to the jury, I saw twelve men and women, picked randomly from society and considered how differently they would be viewing the three of us. I assumed that the majority of them would have much sympathy for the victim, whilst at best, harbouring contempt for the defendant, which after all in my opinion, is the objective of our adversarial legal structure.
Conversely, within the confines of court etiquette, I knew that I probably portrayed a professional performing a role with tenacity and assurance.
But what was the real difference between the three of us?
By their own admission, the experience for the victim had triggered childhood memories and feelings of horror that they considered dealt with long ago, hence thier reaction. They had been using street drugs since the age of 17, I suggest there was a direct link but they had not made it.
In mitigation, the court learned of the childhood abuse experienced by the defendant, they too were using street drugs at the time the crime had been committed.
Therefore, the only real difference between the three of us was that I was treating my symptoms with chemicals obtained from a medical doctor, NHS drugs. I was conforming to the ‘system’ so, my actions were not criminalised.
However, in reality if you were to put the three of us in a room together, there was no real distinction between our mental wellbeing.
The three of us were prisoners of our childhood trauma.