A timeline feature to support survivors through their self reporting journey.
You may have difficulty remembering what has happened. This is completely natural. When we experience something traumatic, it can be hard to connect the details of what happened and to feel comfortable putting it down.
We want to help with that. We’ve created this space for you as a guide to support you to write as much information as you can remember - the what, the where and the who. We understand that remembering something traumatic has happened to us may not happen straight away, and all at once. You may remember things later, and this is why we’re here to help, and why we’ve set out building your timeline this way.
Just like authors piecing together their thoughts and points, writing down your timeline on flash cards or post-its can help you to collate any evidence for each step that you may have, like an Uber receipt, a photo taken or a text, for example. You can then have this record for yourself, and to show to others who are in a position to help.
This will help you to create your own record, regardless of whether you report or not. This record can help alleviate stress when you need to recall what happened and may help you gain a sense of control in listing everything out in one place.
By writing out your timeline on flash cards or post-its for you to keep, you can reshuffle and come back to them when you remember something. They can be added to or amended and are not set in stone the moment you put your timeline and evidence down. You can change and add to them as needed and over time as you work through this process.
You may not know where to start or how a recount should look. There is no right or wrong way of writing it down, the answer is: whatever works for you! You can put as much information as you want, and come back to edit it at any time, using this guide to help you.
If you are stuck on how to start, here’s a rough example of how you might put down what happened. Don’t worry, we’ll explain more on this format as we go, the important thing is finding what works best for you. It doesn’t have to be how ours looks, but this is something to have as a guide of sorts as you work through.
WHAT: Arrived at the bar
WHERE: The Owl & Pussycat
WHO: With Emma & Jane
EVIDENCE: Uber receipt for arriving in the cab with friends
WHAT: Grabbed a drink at the bar and met perpetrator
WHERE: The Owl & Pussycat bar
WHO: Brown-haired man, maybe late 20s.
EVIDENCE: Debit Card Payment
WHAT: Can’t remember
WHERE: Not sure
WHO: With perpetrator
EVIDENCE: My friends couldn’t find me
It’s important to remember that it is your story to tell, whenever you like, in whatever way you are most comfortable. Using this timeline may help you to process what has happened, but it may also be triggering or upsetting to work through this. That is completely normal. Feel free to step away and come back later.
You can start whenever works best for you, on your own time and at your own pace, and reshuffle your cards or notes as you go forward. Ensuring your wellbeing and safety is key to working through this timeline, The important thing is to be comfortable and reassured as you work through. If you’re feeling ready to start, let’s begin creating your timeline.
Beginning your timeline:
Before you begin to note down the specifics of what happened with you, take some time to prepare yourself for this task. Take a step away whenever you need to - this can really be a daunting task. If possible, we advise you to have someone trustworthy beside you, in case you need some support.
To start this process, have some flash cards or post-it notes handy. You can use normal notepad paper that has been halved into smaller shapes, so that you can write enough on them and move and reshuffle as you need.
The below graphic is an example of the size and shape you could have for your flashcards, but use what you feel comfortable with and have access to.
There are no set amounts of cards you need to complete this, but we recommend having a ‘What’, ‘Where’, ‘Who’ and evidence card for each part of your timeline.
As these cards will be physical for you, it’s important to address safety. If you are able to, these cards or notes can be spread out around you as you work, or even placed on your walls as you piece your timeline together and remember certain events. If you’re not in the position to do this, this will not affect how you can use this timeline.
If you are living with others or do not want these cards or notes to be found, it’s important to have a safe place to hide your cards - maybe inside a book you own, or in a toiletries bag - somewhere only you access, or would think to access.
To begin with, take a minute and write down on a bigger piece of paper anything you remember about what happened. This can be bits and pieces or full sentences - whatever feels natural. We’ll call this an ‘incident’.
Don’t worry about adding too much detail just yet - you can do that later. You might only note down keywords and return later to add more information, the important thing is not to make yourself feel uncomfortable or anxious.
An example could be:
I met the perpetrator at a bar recently in downtown Soho. They were initially very friendly and after a couple of drinks, we went to a restaurant to get some food. Then we met up with some friends... I’m not sure what happened next.
Well done! - You’ve completed the first step!
Now let’s turn these into separate events in your timeline.
To put this incident into a timeline, we need to break it down into different parts, that we’ll call 'events'.
We’ll do this by adding the What, Where, Who and any Evidence you can think of to the timeline below, and to make it easier, we’ve explained each of the different steps below.
Remember, you can fill in as much or as little as you want on your cards as you move through this, and feel free to step away and come back to this as often as you need.
1. WHAT HAPPENED
Take a look at the text you wrote in the first step and try and single out the first part of the incident. Write this down on a card as your first ‘What’.
In the example above, the ‘what’ or first event would be: “Arrived at the bar”.
2. WHERE DID IT HAPPEN
Next, try to specify the location where this event occurred and whatever you think is relevant and can recall easily and note this on your next card. This could include the exact location of where the event took place, something memorable in your surrounding environment (such as objects, sounds/ music), etc.
If it helps, you can use some of the following options to add notes with as many details as you’re comfortable with:
Public Place (train station, etc)
Your ‘Where’ doesn’t need to be an exact, specific location, but any details related to the location, including street names, nearby landmarks, areas, or identifying features that you recall.
Going back to the example the ‘Where’ might be:
Upscale bar in downtown Soho. Bar Name = ?
On the same street as Le Mer restaurant.
Neon signage above the door.
3. WHEN DID IT HAPPEN
Next up, do you remember the date and time of this event? Add this to another card as your ‘When’ It is fine to have an approximate time as well, it doesn't have to be accurate for now.
Saturday 12th July, around 9pm.
Sometime in the first week of October, 2016
Finally, let’s add details of anything that might be useful as evidence for this event.
Evidence is defined as “information given to the court and the jury to help them decide if a crime has been committed or not and that tends to prove the truth or probability of truth about a fact put before the court and jury.” This is very open and allows for a wide range of different materials to be used, so it is worth listing anything you think might be relevant.
With the example we gave in mind, some possible Evidence could be:
Text to Claire saying we were nearly there
Google Maps data
Well done, you’ve now created the first full event on your timeline!
Now you can slowly fill out the timeline further by adding more events to your cards and repeating the steps until you’ve noted everything you can remember.
Again, there is no deadline to how quickly you need to complete this and memories can come and go. This may be tough to think about, so please take your time and add to this when you can. You can move and amend your cards whenever you need to when you revisit or remember something else.
We’re really proud of you for making this record. Hopefully this will help you if you ever need to recall what happened when speaking to friends and family, seeking therapy or talking to the police.