I have always had an interest in the criminal justice system, from a young age I wanted to become a police officer, but as I progressed through college, I changed my mind, becoming unsure of what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to help people, but I wasn’t sure how. This slight change in my career plan was a result of two major factors. First, I absolutely hated driving when I was 18 and wasn’t convinced I could do it all day for work. Second, and most importantly, my father had been a police officer and he made it truly clear that didn’t approve of me becoming one too. Looking back, the driving wasn’t the real issue, my father’s influence was, nonetheless, the search for a stable and rewarding career, which I found interesting, was on.
My specific interest in forensic psychology was sparked when I was 20, after being a victim of a serious crime, I found I was not angry with the person, I mainly wanted to understand the person’s motivation behind their actions. At the time, I realised this wasn’t necessarily the normal response to a traumatic event, so I also became interested in why I reacted in this way. When I think about it retrospectively, it was probably a way of rationalising the trauma I experienced.
During the initial police investigation into the crime, I took some time off work to recover from the trauma, I spent this time watching crime documentaries, which I found fascinating and found myself wanting to learn more. This led me to spend a great deal of time reading books and articles surrounding forensic psychology. I was gripped by the books and ordered many online, much to the displeasure of my postman, who seemed to be at my front door, with a new book delivery, almost daily. The neighbours must have been thinking I had shares in Amazon.
I realised I could turn my passion for learning about psychological theories and the motivation to commit crimes into a career, so I began searching for a degree. This brought me to make the decision to study at the Open University (OU). This decision changed my life dramatically, after taking time off work, it provided me with purpose and helped me to feel proud of myself again.
The day my OU textbooks arrived was such an exciting day for me, I immediately delved into them and was immediately gripped by the information within them.
I chose a full-time style route, studying 120 credits per year, and returned to working full-time for the NHS. This made for a very intense schedule, but with good time management, I found myself achieving good grades and becoming even more fascinated by the subject. This success was almost certainly a result of the effort I have put in, spending any free time I have undertaking further reading and making countless pages of revision notes.
Despite the negative starting point that motivated me to begin my studies in forensic psychology, I could not be happier with the option I have chosen and would not change a thing.
Abigail Ryding is a full-time BSc Forensic Psychology student and NHS staff, who is fascinated by human behaviour and mental health conditions.