It was a Friday night and I already had permission from my dad to go to our church dance with my sister and cousin. We didn’t have a ride so we went somewhere else instead. My younger sister and cousin hung out with our friends while I was talking with my boyfriend. It was already late at that time and my dad called and said that he is so angry that we weren’t home. He said he was waiting for us with a bunch of power cords. We were too frightened to go back so we decided to sleep over at my friend’s house.
He kept on calling and threatened us that he’ll find us and cut our heads off. I was so afraid, I ignored his calls. But he called my cousin’s phone and convinced us to come back home saying that he won’t punish us anymore.
We went home but as soon as I got out the car, I got the feeling that he was lying. I walked in the house and saw a bunch of power cords in the living room. He beat us so hard with the cords that the neighbours could hear us crying. Then he locked us in a room and continued the beating. He burned all my clothes, cut my hair and smashed my phone. Afterwards I wasn’t allowed to go out of the house anymore or to any other church youth functions.
I was so afraid and felt that my life was worthless. So I ran away and stayed with my boyfriend at his house and we thought that getting married was the answer, but then again it wasn’t, so his family took me back to my father. I didn’t want to stay at home anymore because my father was so tough on me not allowing me to do or go anywhere. My cousin and I decided to go and look for our own life – that’s when I met a reverend and he helped us. He took us to a lawyer and the lawyer referred us to the centre.
I was so happy that someone was actually paying attention to me and listened to what I had to say. Right now I am under the protection of the centre which I find very helpful and supportive. At first I cried and felt lonely because I missed my friends. But later on after hanging with the other clients I was happy and very safe.
So I just want my fellow youth mates to know that there is still a chance when you feel worthless. Help is there – it’s just a matter of believing in yourself and having the courage to go and look for help despite what your friends might think of you. Whenever you feel afraid and lonely and can’t think of what to do anymore the centre is a very welcoming place for you to go and seek help and support from.
At first when I rang the Police I got the idea that they didn’t want to come.
The incident had just happened – and my friend had to get on the phone and insist. In fact, he had to call another Police Officer that we knew (who was on vacation) to even get the Police to come. They wanted me to go to the central police station – but I wanted them to come to the scene of the crime.
The Police finally came out one hour later to where we were waiting.
All four were big, male policemen. I felt very uncomfortable with the four men. Many of the questions they asked me were very inappropriate and not investigative in nature. I felt as though they thought it was my fault. I asked them to come to the crime scene and my friend suggested they take photos. They took some – but they also took photos of each other, posing, smiling and being funny. It felt very wrong.
Then they sent me to the Central Police Station. I was grateful they gave me a female policewoman – but she asked me to write my own statement. I had no idea what to write. While I was reporting at the Central Police Station, another police officer was walking in and out of the room. I did not feel that my statement was being given any confidentiality.
I got a medical report, as requested, the day afterwards. I was told to go to the hospital on my own unaccompanied by Police. But when I was there they said I needed the police. I called and eventually the police came, only to have to wait outside, and they left before we finished. I was so confused – everyone was telling me different things, and I was already so shaken up. I felt very alone.
As the investigation went on, more and more police became involved. They would ask the same questions which were really hard to answer. Sometimes they would turn up at my work. Eventually the commander asked me to redo my statement and he helped by being specific about the details I needed to include. I took it home to finish. I was relieved to have the commander involved. I felt like he understood the severity of the crime.
Once the commander was involved things moved a lot faster. The police found the perpetrator and I identified him. At the station I could see the perpetrator’s family – his wife and children – sitting across the hallway. It was horrible to realise that this man had a family.
That night a policeman called me. He told me that the wife and husband were very sorry for what happened and that they wanted to organize reconciliation. The idea of sitting in a room with the perpetrator was just not possible for me. I made it very clear that this was not an option. I later found out that this was very wrong – the policeman was trying to stop the perpetrator from going to prison.
Then the police prosecutor told me that the perpetrator would be tried before the local court. I was worried that I hadn’t finished my statement, and none of the police seemed concerned. On the day of the trial I took my statement to the police and they laughed when I expressed my concern over the statement. I had to persist to get a policeman to sign it and then I had to take it to the prosecutor because the police would not do it. It felt like almost every interaction with the police was hard work.
I went to the local court because the prosecutor told me I should be there. As soon as I entered the court, the wife of the perpetrator came over to me with her children. The children kept coming up and smiling at me. It was so, so horrible. I just couldn’t understand what the family was after. The prosecutor had said my case would be at the end so less people would be there – but my case was called up second. There were over 60 people in the court room. I felt very exposed.
The court case went in and the prosecutor instructed me to be on the other side of the building. I was grateful that I did not have to go inside and that he gave me some direction. I was also relieved that they told me that they would not place my name on the press releases. I was informed that the judge had referred the case directly to the high court as the perpetrator had pleaded guilty.
It was much clearer once the case was sitting with Crown Law. They rang me to inform me of the process and the progress of the case. Finally I was told that the perpetrator had been charged with the most serious sentence for attempted rape and sexual assault. I feel better knowing that he is not in the community.
Overall I felt totally confused and angry with the police, although I was relieved that the commander got involved. I had to do everything on my own. The way the policemen acted made me feel as though I was forcing them to do work. I got the impression that they did not handle cases like mine often. Constantly needing to re-tell my story, and to do to so many men, was awful. The whole situation has left me wondering how anyone can be strong enough to report a rape to the police.
The only thing that kept me strong through the whole process was knowing that everyone who reports to the police makes it easier for the next person. It was worth it, but you have to be strong.
A firsthand account of reporting child sexual abuse from a client at WCCC.
It happened on a Friday night when I went back home with my mom after attending a funeral. We stayed at another family’s house and while my mum was having a shower I went in the kitchen and ate with the other family. We watched TV in the living room after and two of the women in the house left for the funeral. It was only me, a lady and her daughter and an older man (whose wife had gone to the funeral) left watching TV.
I felt tired and I went to my bedroom and lay on the bed. Suddenly the man walked in and started pulling down his pants and began to touch me. I started to scream but he said not to make any noise so that the others would not hear me. I was so frightened and so sad that I kept quiet. After doing what he did he put back his clothes on.
They told us to pack our things and go. We went and explained everything to my dad who was working at the time. He asked my mom to take me to my sister and her husband’s house. But still my mom felt that I wasn’t safe there. So she met up with one of the centre’s staff who happened to know my dad at his work. And they took me to the centre and they were very welcoming which made me felt comfortable and calm. The old lady was standing at the door and was surprised to see the perpetrator in my room. She asked him what he was doing and he said he was going to turn on the light because the light switch was in my room. The old lady knew that he was lying so she called his partner to come back from the funeral. The wife started to beat me up when I told her what happened because they all believed what he said. So they called my mom who was in the small house at the back and my mom almost beat me up too.
First hand account of domestic violence from a Client of WCCC
I had no idea that my husband is very angry at me on that night. My husband came home, he didn’t knock on the door, he just angrily opened it. I called his name but he didn’t answer back. He hit me and my eldest daughter. He kept hitting us until his drinking crew came and stopped him. My big sister’s daughter called over to her husband and some of my husband’s cousins came trying to intervene to stop the fight, but he still would not calm down. So one of them called the police. Two police officers came and still he didn’t listen to anyone, and so the police officers asked the boys to help them taking him to the police station.
We all stayed up the whole night trying to stop the blood running off my face. The next morning I took my children with me to my oldest sister. I know that my husband has a very short temper, and he is angry for a while after he hits me.
The police asked me to do the recording of the complaints but I told the Police that I don’t want to press charges, plus I’m sick of facing court about this issue. I have taken my husband to court many times but I still love him and he continues to hit me.
Now that I and my children are in the safe house, we feel well supported and safe. It gives me space to think although it is not an easy issue to resolve.