3 Cigarettes

First hand account of domestic violence from a client of WCCC

 My husband bought a packet of cigarettes on a Saturday night to take with him to the kava group on Sunday. He gave it to me to put it somewhere and on Sunday he found 3 cigarettes gone. He said that I gave them for our son which I did not. He was really angry and he hit me hard with a wooden kali (pillow). He then went to church. When he came back I said sorry to him but he didn’t accept it.

I asked him if we could talk about what happened but because he was still angry he didn’t want to. I told him that it is better for me to move to my sister and stay there and he thought I didn’t mean it.

This is not the first time that the violence happened. It has happened many times before, but I still forgive him for the sake of my children for they are very young. I don’t want to submit a complaint about him before, because he is the one who works and I want a good education and a better future for my children.

Our case went through court and he is on probation for good behaviour for one year.

Women at work places: speak up and break the silence!

A first hand case study from a client of WCCC

 

I have been working at my job since June 2010.  I just broke up with my boyfriend at the time when a guy from my work asked if he could be my boyfriend and I accepted.  After about two weeks I told him that we’re finished – I didn’t like his behavior.  From then on he used to come to my office and say things to me like why did I finish with him but he never disrespect me in any way.

On the last day of December, he came into my office doing the same thing complaining and asking if we could go back on being boyfriend girlfriend again.  All of a sudden another man from our work walked in and grabbed me from the front and told my ex-boyfriend to kiss me.  I was shaking my head around because I didn’t want to.   But he was holding my face in his hands and kissing my lips, sticking his tongue in my mouth.  After that they went out the door laughing.  I could hear them saying to their co-worker outside, “the offender just kissed the victim, she deserved it because she was playing hard to get”.

In the beginning of this year, my ex boyfriend grabbed my buttock one day as I was walking outside my office.  At this time, I heard rumors that he is talking about me having an affair with another men, saying that I am not a virgin and one day he say it straight to my face.  One day I walked inside one of the rooms at work and as I walk in I can hear my name came up in my ex-boyfriend’s conversation and the men burst out laughing.  I was so angry. I walked up to him kicking his feet saying, what did you say about me? He didn’t say anything, they just kept on laughing. So I kicked him again. Then he kicked me three times on the chest. It hurt so much because he was wearing his safety boots.  I went to the doctor to make a report.  I took it to the police and made a complaint about the two men, the man who held me and my ex boyfriend who kissed me, grabbed my buttock, gossiped about me and kicked me on the chest.

I’ll never forget this incident because this is the first time I have ever experience something like this even outside of work.   I haven’t felt like this ever in my life before.  That day I felt so afraid that I can’t sleep at night for a few weeks, I felt dirty and angry and when they were laughing at me I felt used  ‘little and without dignity, I also felt frustrated thinking that I can’t do anything about it, that I am powerless  in this situation.

I came straight to the director of WCCC because that’s who I was advised to go to, and after talking to her a counselor was appointed to me while the director was writing a letter to my boss at work telling him:

That I am a client of the WCCC and informing him of my right to have a workplace that is safe and free of sexual harassment.

The counselor then documented my story, called the Ministry of Police Domestic Violence Unit to clarify some information and then we went into a counseling session. By the time we were finished the letter was ready and the centre delivered it to my work.

One of the reasons why I am so grateful to the centre, I didn’t know anything about my complaint if it wasn’t for the centre.  After I made my complaint I went with my parent, my counselor and the male advocate of the centre to court, we met up with the prosecutor and he told us that he dropped the case of one of the men because there is not enough evidence and the other man will only be charged on one count.  Luckily, the two staff of the centre were there to level with him.  My counselor took me to the DVU unit again today to talk about my case and I am still unsatisfied but at the same time I am happy because the centre is there to help me, support me and make me feel good about myself, that I haven’t done anything wrong, and am empowered about this kind of situation.  We are still working on my case.

I feel very lucky that I came to the centre, the way they talk to the police it made me feel courageous, I feel good about myself, have high self-esteem, that I am supported, I advice you women out there especially women at work places to speak up and break the silence, that’s the purpose of my taking this case to court.  I don’t want to go through this again, and I don’t want it to happen to anyone at my work place or any other organization.    I am very grateful that I came to the centre and it was true that they help me a great deal. They did a great deal more than what I expected.

I think to myself I am an adopted child

A first hand account from a survivor of incest who is a client of WCCC.

 

 When I was 8 years old my father began to treat me in a way that is not right for a father to do to his daughter. He gave me money $10 to $20 and told me not to tell anyone, and most of the time I was scared and think to myself what I would do to overcome this and what will happen if someone knew.

All these things that happen to me were all done at our own house, and I think to myself maybe I am an adopted child of the family. Eventually my mother left the country and this is the saddest time in my life.  I knew that my mother left me but she didn’t even know what is happening to me. On the day she left I drew a picture of an aero-plane when it departed at the airport.

I moved to stay with my older sister but my father still continued the same thing to me. Most of the time when my father came to pick me up from my sister’s house I was very unhappy when seeing him, and sometimes my sister would get mad at me and ask why I didn’t want to go with my dad, but she did not know what was happening, but because of her trust in him that he is our father, she told me to go. It was very hard for me, but at that time I didn’t have the courage to tell her.

Now I am 14 and one day I was lying on my bed in my bedroom and I saw a book on the table in my room and its says, “Hold on to your belief”. I grab the book and read it and its talking about being obedient and being a virgin. This has encouraged me to speak out and talk about what is happening to me.

On the same week, I went to church on Sunday and I knew for sure I will go and ask our Bishop for time to talk to him about what I’ve been going through and finally I fulfill my dream. I explained everything to him.

So the Bishop went to the police and explained it to them and the police came to my sister’s house and take me, they questioned me and recorded everything. After that they told me they will take me to WCCC’s Safe House which is the best and safe place they think I should go to while they do their work.

While I’m staying at the Safe House I feel safe and it helps me a lot trying to get rid of the problems that I face and other things in my life. So I encourage all women that they struggle with many problems in their life or experience the same problem I am going through to speak up and tell someone that you know for sure that she or he will help you, and I believe it give us an important message to always be careful with ourselves of what is happening in our life!

“Don’t think that you’re nothing, do something to end violence”

I got married when I was 17 and my husband was 21. My parents didn’t want me to get married but it’s my own choice.

We were very much in love. We have our own house.  My husband work every day and I stayed home and does our house work. We have a lovely time together at home, we talk to each other nicely, eat, play together and he was taking good care of me and we were staying happily.

After a year of our marriage, he start to do things that looks different to me as he uses to do before. He starts to come home late from work and he’s drunk. He talks to me in a loud voice, he swear at me, he starts telling me to do everything. All the good things that we have before is gone.

I got pregnant and on my 5 month pregnant, he came late from work one day, he was drunk already, he told me to iron his clothes because he will go out with his friends. He shouted and swore at me I was so scared and just did whatever I was told to do.

He came home after 4 o’clock in the morning, he wake me up to warm his food. I was so lazy to do it, he got my hand and threw me towards the door. He told me not to try him but do what he said and don’t give any words.

I gave birth on our child at the hospital he never came and see us. I call him but he said, he’s going to a party with his friends.  I was so sad and the same time I feel lonely with my daughter at the hospital.

We spent two days at hospital before going back home. When we get home he was not there and thank God the lady from our neighbor came and helps me because I was not feeling well.

The next morning my husband came he was surprise seeing us at home. He kisses me and baby he asks many questions about our staying at hospital. Everything he asked makes me feel angry at him. I swear at him and he slabs my face. I cry and I don’t know what to do.

Whenever we had an argument I would apologies but he wouldn’t hear me. He would make me cry by threatening me and saying bad things to me. He always said to me, I have nothing at home, do what he told me if not he will punch me, and don’t ask anything from him. He also label myself that I was a school cut not know anything; the only thing I know is the pot at the kitchen.

I sat down one day and think about my husband of everything he has done to me and there was a time I told myself I will do something to let my husband know that I can stop all what he is doing to me and to end the violence.

One day he went to work. I went straight to the police station and take my statement and they tell me about the Centre if I need help. So I went to the centre and they help me.

The police ask me if I want to talk with my husband before my final statement. I said yes, but I need my Counselor to sit in and do it at the police station.

We have a good talk and sharing. They gave us time to talk about our family and our current situation. He confess all what I’ve said about him and he apologize for what he had done to me and our little girl, he ask me to give him a chance so he would change his behavior and he know all what he does is wrong and not good he will do everything that I want to. So I forgive him and I told him only one thing I want is for us to take counseling at the centre which it’s really helpful, he agree for it.  So I decided to went back home with my husband. We have a new life, new family and we start to have our happy family that we have before.

I encourage you women who are having problems with your husband, don’t thing that you a nothing, believe yourself and be positive and do something to end violence at home so that you live in a happy and safe environment which is free from violence.

“I don’t know who to trust anymore”

I am 19 years old; I was adapted to a family of nine with eight boys and one girl. I was meant to be a sister to their only daughter who is what I was told, but it was different now as I grew up.  I am the one who does all the housework at home.

My adopted parents separated when I was in class 5 and my adopted mother married again.

This year my adopted mother went overseas for two weeks. I and my sister were to spend the night at our neighbour as usual when our mother travels.

My mother left on a Thursday night and on Friday night I went home about 10:00pm to get a blanket and my adopted father call me from his room to get him his pills. When I gave him his pills he hold my hand and told me to sit down and take my clothes off, but I didn’t do it, and all of a sudden he hit me with a piece of wood at the back of my head and I black out until I wake up on the next morning lying naked on his bed. He walked into the room and told me he already took my virginity.

I went back to the neighbour’s house and they asked me where I have been and I explain them everything, and the lady at the neighbour call my mother and tell her everything but she didn’t believe it.

From then onwards, everyday my adopted father tie my hands and feet to the bed and do whatever he wants with me whenever I go home to clean up the house and cook their food in two weeks.

When my mother came back, my adopted father lied that he didn’t do anything to me, but after two days he admitted to my mother that what he did to me was true. My mother blames me that it was my fault and my brothers chase me out of the house when they knew what happen.

I move out and met a friend and we spent the night at the bus station, and roaming around in town for food.

After two weeks, I went back home and my adopted mother chase me away for good. I then talk to one of the police officer that I know and he told me if the adopted father tries to do anything to me again then I come and report it to him and they would take him to prison.

I met a friend in town and we went and visit a friend of her and the father of my friend found out what happen to me then he took me to one of the WCCC’s staff which they came from the same village. She works on my case.

I am too young and know nothing about the law. I didn’t know who to trust anymore. The centre encourages me to stand up for myself and fight for my rights and they were always there to help me with my case.

“12 Years later I had to seek help”

I was only 10 years old when it started.  My parents would often tell me to go to the local shop to get everyday necessities for the household like bread, butter and tinned fish.

One day the shop keeper told me to enter through the back door and I did.  He told me that he had some chocolates from NZ to share with me – which made me excited.

The next trip to the shop he told me to again enter through the back door.  I did as he said.  He told me to sit on a small box while he read me a story from a picture book he had.  He showed me pictures of women who were naked.  He told me not to be afraid and to look at the faces of the women because they were not scared but were happy.  He told me to look at their body parts and how beautiful they were and asked me if I wanted to be as beautiful as the women in the book.  He told me to go home and not to tell anyone because I would get a hiding and to keep it our secret.  He told me to go back the next day and get some chocolates.

I wasn’t sure if I should go back and I was scared.  But my father sent me to the shop and I had to go.  When I arrived, the shop keeper told me to enter through the back.  He gave me a bar of chocolate to eat and told me to sit down.  He told me that he just wanted to compare me to the women in the book and that all I had to do was take my underwear off and open my legs so that he could see if it were the same.  He touched himself while he looked at me.  He did this often until one day he actually touched me.

I was frightened and I couldn’t tell anyone because I was scared I would get a hiding.  I couldn’t take it anymore and one day I told my cousin and she told me that she had a plan.

Every time I would be sent to the shop she would come with me and she would do the purchasing.  I could tell that the shop keeper was very angry and he kept asking my cousin where was I?  He told her that I had a “mo’ua” a debt to pay and that it was for all the chocolate bars I had eaten.  He eventually told my father about the ‘debt’ and my father gave me a hiding.

I never spoke to anyone about this until 12 years later.  It has affected my work and my relationship with others.  I was happy to finally get some counseling with the WCCC to unpack the horrible feelings and fears I have carried with me all these years.

I encourage other women and girls and even boys and men who have been abused to do the same.  Counseling is free and non-judgmental and you do it at your own pace but it certainly HELPS to move on.  I thank God that I have had this counselling.

“I am lucky that I get helped on the first time”

I am thirteen years of age.  I was repeated in form one twice because of missing school too much.  There were ten of us children in the family.  My parents separated and my mother was having a de-facto relationship with children of her own while my father was having a de-facto relationship with another woman with children of their own.  My father took four of us, myself and my twin sister and two of my brothers, while my mother took five.  One of us died from an accident in a very young age.

My stepmother sometime sends me and my twin sister to sell leis (kahoa) instead of going to school.  She would make us stay home and babysit her babies; we would do the house work, including cooking and washing.  If she thinks that we’ve been misbehave than we will go without dinner that evening.  We tend to run away a lot from home to our grandparents, but she would come and get us back and warn us and sometimes make our father hit us not to go to our grandparents.  We then run away and live with other people but she would find us eventually and bring us home.  People thought that she loved us when she indents to find us and bring us home but it was only so that we come home and do the work.

As we run away, we do robbery sometimes in order to survive, and we weren’t interested in school anymore.  Along the way I got raped three times, the first two rapes they were strangers, I did speak up but no one believed me, the third time, he was the neighbor who happen to live together with his girlfriend and when I told her about him raping me, the girlfriend went to the police and report it.  I was then taken to the Safe House.  While I was at Safe House I was given help so that I can be able to see things clearly and can be able to see my future ahead of me.  Now I regret not going to school, and realize what happens to me when running from home, most likely I will be access to abuse of any kinds.  Now I can’t wait to go home and start a new life and go back to school.

Without the Safe House, maybe I was still being out there experiencing different kinds of abuses.  I count myself lucky that I did get help on the right time, because something worst might happen to me if it was not reported to the police.

“He cut myself with a knife, pokes me with a burning fork just right on my breast and ties me with a rope and hangs me upside down …”

I have been married for six years. My father warned me of my husband’s family because he knew them very well, but I didn’t listen to him, because I love my husband very much. But now, all what has been explained to me by my father before I got married are all happen and it’s true.

At the very first day we marry he starts beating me. His father owns a piece of land at one of the island here in Tonga and we move there and planting Kava to make money.

We both work hard but especially myself, looking back at home to my parents they were both too old and not in good health.

We got very good money from our Kava plantation, but my husband spend it all at once without giving me any of that money. He spends it on alcohol, drugs and on women. I fed up with his behavior, so I decided to come back to Tongatapu and stay with my parents.

One night he calls and told me to open the gate for him and I told him to go away and stop bothering me because I’m sleeping. I thought he play a joke on me, because at this time he was still at the island, but he keeps on telling me to open the door and I hang up the phone.

He rang again and kept telling me to open the door because he’s outside and I told him off and he told me to open it or he’ll kick it to open and he swears at me. This time I know for sure that he’s outside. I was scared and my stomach starts aching and I felt weird.

He came in and starts yelling at me who’s I’m having an affair with and I have to make up a name as to answer him because it was better for me to lie at this time or else he’ll do something to me.

I was so scared because I knew him very well and all what he has done to me. There were times he cut me with a knife, he poke me with a burning fork right on my breast, he tie me up with a rope and hang me upside down and bunch and kick me continually while hanging there until I felt down.

I couldn’t believe that the man I love and chose to be my husband will ever do these things to me. It was not only me he abuse but also my parents. If my parents approach him with something or for doing nothing at home, he told them off and tell my parents “I wasn’t born to do anything, I was born to eat, sleep and roaming around.” He hates my parents and he tells them off and don’t speak to him because he’s just coming for his wife and kids, not them.

He doesn’t even care about my parents even when he beats me in front of them and saying bad words to me.

One day, on my way to town I decided to stop by at the WCCC and check with what sort of work they do if they can help me, because every time I went to town I always walk pass the centre and this is why I know them. I see one of their counselor and sharing her all the problems that I’m facing and she was so helpful and I was so thankful, and letting me know that they have a Safe House.

On my second visits to the centre it was a Friday, and that night I sneak to one of the rooms and call the Centre, I can feel that something will happen that night.  I was scared to go outside as I was instructed by the Centre to go somewhere safe and make my phone calls from and wait there until the police pick me up if something happens to me at home.

At this time I’m really scared if my husband heard me if I open the door and at the same time I was still whispering on the phone with someone at the Centre to direct me to their Safe House but she kept telling me to hang up and go somewhere else is safe and call again.  I still don’t know how to get out safely so I walk inside our room and he start questioning me again,  all of a sudden he punch me right on the mouth and was the last thing I know.

I woke up in the hospital with my sister beside me and my husband; I gave the centre’s number to my sister and ask her to call the Centre.  Someone from the Centre told my sister that they will report it to the police and they must be there soon.  In less than 5 minutes the police came and they took my husband then they came back for me.

The doctor told me that I have to lie down for half an hour as I have heart problems.  The police took me from the hospital after half an hour to pick up my son from my parent’s home and from there straight to the police station. After taking down my statement they took me and my son straight to the Safe House.  I am still staying there now with my son filling my divorce, restraining order and maintenance.

I encourage you all girls and women, you don’t have to stay suffering at home, not only you but your children and your loved ones are also abused, you don’t deserve it and they don’t deserve it too.  Come forward and speak out, you can be helped.  I was afraid too but look at me now.  Even though it’s not over yet but I feel much safer now with my son and wait for our court case.

“He tried to drown me and told me we will have sex and then kill me”

I have four children with my husband, two girls and two boys. We have our own house and a fishing boat which help us with our financial matters.  Ever since we’ve been married, I’ve always a faithful wife to my husband and I love him so much never thinking of leaving him or there’s any other man is better than him, but only him.

It comes to a time he starts to play with my love and our marriage start to mess up. He beats me, avoiding me from going to any gathering occasion and I just do what he tells me to do, just because I love him as my husband and I can’t take him to court because I think to myself that will also hurt my children, then we always try to solves our problems between us even though he’s the one causing it.

It comes to a situation I fed up with him so I decided to leave him but still, no police involved.  We went to a lawyer and we decide we will half our children, he will take two to take care of them and I will take two and they will stay at our home and I will rent a place for myself and our other two kids, but at the same time I will provide everything for them, like food etc…

We agree all with that and live separately but he still owns me.  He drinks most nights and still come to where I was staying and harass me.

One night I visit with one of the girls who work for me to check on our fishing boat.  When we got there, the two boys who suppose to look after the boat were gone, so the girl got down to check a freezer in the boat, suddenly my husband showed up on the window from outside walking towards me. I was asking where he had been and I wasn’t finish with my sentence, I blacked out.

He bunches me right on my left eye, pulls me down and kicks me, and then threw me into the sea. He came down after me and tries to drown me.  The girl was with me run and call for help.

The police and the soldiers arrived but he already took off my pants and his pants and told me we will have sex first and then he’ll kill me. When the soldiers were jumping into the water and swam towards us, he let go of me and swam away.

I went to the Women & Children Crisis Centre two weeks before this happen, they suggest the Safe House but I didn’t want to go there because of my business, thinking that I can’t do my business from there.  The very next Friday, he got drunk and came to my apartment and force himself into the house, I call the police, I stayed at the police station till daylight, the very next day I went to the centre again and they took me to the Safe House.

I now already filed for my divorce, restraining order to safe guard me from him and also fight for the things that I have rights to at home. I encourage you women, with my experience, once the perpetrator is abusive they will never stop, actually situation will get worse so seek help as soon as you can while situation is still small and your life still much safer.

Vaitohi children and Uniting Church Australia donate vehicle

The WCCC received its first vehicle donated by the Uniting Church of Australia. Representatives Mr. John Birrell (Chairman of the Uniting Church of Australia), Ms Annette Colegrave (a member of the Uniting Church of Australia) and Rev. ‘Ikani Vaitohi, his wife Moana and their children; William, Monalisa, Benjamin, Siale and Fane also members of the Uniting Church of Australia travelled to Tonga and presented the vehicle in person to the WCCC Director during the marking of the 16 Days of Activism activities in Tonga.

 H.E Australian High Commission to Tonga Mr. Brett Aldam attended the brief presentation ceremony where Rev. Dr. ‘Ungatea Kata blessed the vehicle before the official handover by Mr. Birrell to Director of the WCCC, ‘Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki.

 “It is certainly a pleasure to donate this vehicle to the Women and Children Crisis Centre here in Tonga whom we have been able to learn about the great work that you all do to eliminate violence against women and children in Tonga. We really appreciate the work that you do to keep families safe from all types of violence, especially women and children who are often the most vulnerable to violence and so I am therefore honoured to present this vehicle to your organisation on behalf of the Uniting Church of Australia and all those involved in getting the funds together to purchase the vehicle for your organisation’s use”, stated Mr. Birrell.

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 In her acknowledgement of the donation, the Director expressed her sincere gratitude to the Uniting Church of Australia and made a special acknowledgement to the Vaitohi children; “the WCCC is extremely excited to receive its very first vehicle donated by the collaborative efforts of many of the members of the Uniting Church of Australia and we are humbled by the personal presentation this morning by Mr. John Birrell and Ms. Anette Colegrave. I would also like to give a special acknowledgement to Monalisa, Fane, Viliami, Benjamin and Siale who through their father made contact with the WCCC several months ago and have since been donating and coming up with ideas to support the work of the WCCC – your hard work in fundraising funds for the centre previous to this donation and raising our organisation’s profile with your church executive is such a huge and significant achievement at such a young age and a great example of what can be achieved if you put your heart and mind to a specific goal – you’re remarkable children and we thank you for your support.”

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This vehicle will be used primarily for the purposes of the One Stop Crisis Support Service.