Judicial bullying is about power and can leave victims feeling paralysed
A leading family law barrister has revealed the devastating impact judicial bullying had on her in a candid blog post published over the weekend.
Lucy Reed, a tenant at St John’s Chambers in Bristol, doesn’t divulge the exact details of the bullying. “I’m not going to tell that story here, because it is intimately bound up with the private details of my client’s case,” she explains in her popular legal blog, Pink Tape. She continues:
“[It’s] also because it is actually too hard a story to relive.”
However, Reed — who was prompted to share her own experience of bullying from the bench after several barristers went public with their stories earlier this month — does discuss the profound impact it had on her.
And continues to have. Earlier this week she relived the experience and, she writes:
“…I was unexpectedly right back there, a gibbering wreck, wracked with guilt for breaking down at court, for failing a client (I didn’t but at the time I felt that I had), humiliated at my inability to cope and the treatment of me in front of peers and clients, powerless to make it stop because the judge had complete control.”
Reed’s blog uses ‘Me Too’ in its title, after the much-used hashtag which came to prominence in the wake of a string of accusations made against media mogul Harvey Weinstein. She said:
“What I have realised is that I felt all those things that survivors of abuse describe feeling, all those things that the victims of sexual predators feel: shame, guilt, powerlessness, a crisis of confidence. I thought I was over it, but talking about it I was right back there. Paralysed again.”
Elsewhere, Reed writes:
“Film producers are to aspiring actors what judges are to lawyers. What they say goes. My experience of judicial bullying has helped [me] appreciate why it is that women don’t often call it out. Because they are powerless, paralysed, silenced.”
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