Will’s Story

In 1992, Will was kidnapped and tortured in a case of mistaken identity. After spending 30 years bottling up the emotions he felt as a result of the attack, Will met one of the people who harmed him in a face-to-face Restorative Justice meeting. The meeting changed his life completely.

This story is not to be reproduced without the express permission of Why me?. We would like to thank Thames Valley Victim Support and Hope after Harm for their support to publish Will’s story.

 

In 1992, Will was outside his place of work when three men broke into his car and began attacking him. He was kidnapped and continually tortured and beaten. After many hours, Will was left for dead in a canal. “I was saying goodbye to myself.” Miraculously, he survived and was taken into hospital by emergency services. 

The incident was a case of mistaken identity; the attackers believed that Will had committed a fraud offence, stealing a large sum of money from the company he worked for. This was something that Will was determined to explain that he had no involvement in.  

After the sustained and life-threatening attack, Will spent a week in hospital. A few weeks later, one of the attackers was found and arrested by police. Throughout the court process, Will struggled with substance use, initially feeling unable to appear in court and face his attacker. The police then supported Will to attend court in a different location, and the person who harmed him was sentenced to 8 years in prison. 

After spending 30 years bottling up the emotions he felt as a result of the attack, Will was left unable to speak about it. Every day waking up, he would feel “worried in case something happened that day” and he frequently missed work, meaning he lost multiple jobs. He also experienced severe PTSD, homelessness and struggled with alcoholism and substance dependency because of what happened – “I was an emotional wreck.” 

One day, when Will was watching TV, he unexpectedly saw the person who harmed him on a television programme, triggering a flood of emotions. “I decided I needed to get myself some help.” After self-referring to a mental health service, his therapist mentioned Restorative Justice. Researching the possibility of taking part in a restorative process, he contacted Thames Valley Victim Support and was put in touch with the facilitators who went on to support him. 

Will met a facilitator in a meeting that lasted 3 hours, where he shared his experience and how it had impacted him. They discussed what Will wanted to get out of the process. 

“This has affected me everyday of my life, for 30 years, you’ve been in my shadows, you’ve been in my dreams.” 

Will was repeatedly asking himself, “Why did he do what he did to me? Why me?”

In 2021, almost 30 years after the incident, Will met one of the people who attacked him in a face-to-face Restorative Justice meeting. He wanted to take part in the process to get closure, and to see the face of the man who harmed him. During the meeting, Will could “hear and feel the remorse.” The meeting was transformative for Will. “The whole process was amazing. That was the turning point… It has changed my life.”

Following the meeting, Will was able to sleep better, his health improved and he felt less stressed knowing “he’s not going to hurt my family.” Will continues to have a relationship with the person who harmed him and has gone on to create podcasts and interviews, sharing their story of recovery. “I’ll never forget the day… from that meeting, my whole life just changed.”

If you are interested in Restorative Justice, find your local Restorative Justice service through our map or learn more about how the process works. If you have a story you would like to share with us, please get in touch via info@why-me.org.

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