Empowered to Return Home and Determined Not Put Up With More Violence

The client is 18 years old and lives in Tongatapu. She lived with her partner for 2 years before marrying him, and it was not until they got married that her husband started abusing her both verbally and physically. She had also suspected that her husband was having affairs. After the birth of their first child her husband beat her up badly. She reported this to the police. It was settled with a brief council by the police and the Magistrate, and as a result her husband was pardoned by the court. But sadly the beatings continued, and from the experience she had with the police and the court, she lost faith in attempting to report again. One day she could not handle it anymore and she came to the WCCC for help. She received counselling and was housed in the safe house. She was relieved when the Magistrate put her husband on a suspended sentence. She felt this enabled her to return home to a safe environment: “If my husband returns to his violent ways at least I have the suspended order on record – so the police can’t pretend anymore that they don’t have anything on file – and the next time we appear in court he will get a much more serious sentence. If that happens, it is proof to me that he wasn’t serious about changing, and so I will consider a divorce.”

 

A Foreigner Living in Tonga Helped Through WCCC and FWCC Collaboration

The client thought she was in a hopeless situation because she was living in Tonga, which was a foreign country for her. She felt rejected by her husband who had brought her here. She described her life as being a second class citizen in their marriage. Her husband was on a well-paid salary but she was given little or no funds for herself or their child, who was born in Tonga. He would refuse to give her any money and would often make her beg for it. She also had limited contact with people like friends, family and neighbours because her husband stopped her from communicating with them. She eventually found out that her husband was having an affair with his co-worker. After she approached him about it, he contacted an immigration officer to request that they revoke her visa so she could be deported back to her country. She was shocked to receive a letter from the Immigration Office stating that her visa was going to be revoked and that she had to leave the country. He planned for her to leave their daughter with him, while having his wife deported. She confided in a neighbour, fearing the worst. The neighbour referred her to the WCCC.

“I felt so relieved when I came in for my first visit. I thanked God that he sent me to the right people. I was told by my husband that the immigration officer would come and remove me from Tonga on the first flight out on the following day. WCCC contacted their counterpart overseas, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre to see if they could help out in this case. The assistance provided by the WCCC through the FWCC was financial support to urgently appoint a lawyer to prevent my removal and to prevent my separation from my 3 year old daughter. I eventually filed for divorce, custody and maintenance.” The client has now returned to her home country with her daughter.

 

Barriers to Safety and Justice

The client is a 34 year old woman living in Tongatapu. Her husband had continuously beaten and abused her during their married life. At one time her husband even slashed her with a knife. He was a very possessive man. She had previously been beaten with a glass bottle and as a result she and her husband were always in and out of court. She had reported most beatings to the police but since her husband had many good friends at the police station, her cases always seemed like a lost cause. Each time they appeared in court, the Police Prosecutor would have no previous files on her husband, so the Magistrate would always sentence him as if it were the first time he appeared before the court.

Finally she heard of the WCCC and after one brutal beating she escaped and found refuge at the centre. She received immediate counselling and advocacy support. This time, her Counsellor Advocate and the Police Officer stationed at WCCC ensured that her husband’s previous files were presented in court. However, the court again failed this victim because it took into consideration a plea from a church leader regarding the perpetrator’s character and his attempt to seek counselling.

The WCCC is continuing to provide counselling to the client, and will monitor and document closely the attitude and behaviour of the perpetrator through the counselling process.

In Trouble in Another Country – A WCCC Client Tells Her Story

“I am a 31 year old woman. On 10th of May 2014, my partner assaulted me with a knife (machete). After only one week of living with my partner (in another country) he started to beat me up twice a week or once a week, whether he was sober or drunk. But I forgave him every time – because I loved him, he is the father of my son. After 4 months of beatings I went to the police station for help. I was tired of my partner’s bad behaviour and beating me all the time. The Court issued a Protection Order for him to stay away from me. I told him that we are finished, and please just leave me alone. I wanted my life to move on, but he was still begging for another chance.

On Saturday morning I was at work. I was so shocked when I saw my partner standing in front of the building. He was lighting his smoke, and the knife was placed in front of his pants. I could easily see it. When I saw him I ran towards my workplace, and he ran after me. I tried to lock the door but I wasn’t strong enough. He forced his way in, and he hit me with the knife. I do not know how he cut my legs and my hands because I was trying to defend myself. The only thing I remember was when I fell down on to the floor, and he tried to cut my neck, and I whispered in his ear that I am pregnant. Then he just stood up and walked outside with nothing to say, not even a word. I do not know how many times he hit me with me with the knife. I stood up and ran outside calling for help. The blood was all over my clothes but I stopped a taxi and asked the driver to please take me to the hospital.

I was in hospital for 15 days because of my injuries. The Police arrested him and put him in prison until our court hearing. I left hospital to go to a shelter for my safety while the police were investigating what happened. I wanted to go back to Tonga to see my family. The shelter staff didn’t listen or care. The workers and the boss of the shelter started blaming me for what happened. They told me that there’s no way for me to return back home and that I have to stay and face the court. Every day I felt like a prisoner with no voice. I felt unhealthy and lonely with no one on my side.

When I got to use one of the staff’s phone, I called my parents first and asked him to find a way to help me to get out from this country and come home. My father went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who referred him to the Women and Children Crisis Centre and asked for help. One of the counsellors from the WCCC came all the way from Tonga to see me and also help me if I needed anything.* I felt happy that I am alive. The shelter boss started to get angry because she didn’t want me to leave. But it was my choice, and the WCCC said they would support whatever choice I make. The next morning I made my decision and I told the shelter I was leaving, but that I would come back for the court hearing. I returned for the hearing with the counsellor for support. My ex-partner pleaded guilty. He hasn’t been sentenced yet. I still go to see the WCCC counsellor for counselling.

Without the help of the Women and Children Crisis Centre I don’t know what would’ve happened to me. I would like to say a big thanks to all the staff for their work. The centre works 100% for the victim and her needs. They also work together with the Women Crisis Centre in Fiji by networking. For you who need help with your problems please contact them, they will open their heart for you.”

 

*Funds for WCCC’s counsellor to travel to the other country and bring the client home were provided from FWCC’s own fund-raising.

Justice for a Young Woman Facing Discrimination – A Great Achievement for WCCC

The client had grown up in the USA and was deported to Tonga. The people living on her family land rejected her and judged her because she had many tattoos and was raised in a very different culture. She became very isolated and couldn’t find a home to take her in, and fell into a violent relationship. When she left the relationship, she was pregnant. No one in Tonga was willing to give her support due to her background, appearance, and reputation for having “slept around”. Finally, her father’s distant relative who lived nearby offered to look after the baby while she looked for work. Her family then tried to get custody of the baby, and with assistance from another local organisation they had her declared mentally unfit. When she first came to WCCC she was feeling totally powerless. WCCC treated her as an equal and did not pass judgement on her on the basis of her appearance. She was supported by Counsellors through the court process to regain custody of her child. It was a huge breakthrough for WCCC when the Magistrate allowed WCCC to speak on her behalf, when the Director explained that she had been judged on the basis of her appearance alone, and not on her ability to care for her child. The Magistrate ruled that her baby be returned to her, and stated that he was not going to judge her on the basis of her looks and an unsound mental health assessment.

 

This case demonstrates one of WCCC’s greatest achievements, because WCCC is often criticised by traditional and conservative leaders for supporting victims who do not conform to local norms and expectations – WCCC is frequently told that such women and children are “a waste of time”; this case demonstrates WCCC’s commitment to human rights. It was also the first case heard by that particular Magistrate under the Family Protection Act and a milestone for court judgements based on a human rights framework.

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.

“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.

“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.

Go, I had enough of you

A first hand account of violence from a client at the WCCC.

He went last Friday to work, and up to today he hasn’t returned home. We had one child who was adopted and he is dead now. I was so worried about my husband, where he is because I know that he went to work. I contact his workplace to check on him but he didn’t come to work.

I have been thinking where I would go to look for him, because there was nothing happened between us that would make him left me.

I went to his brother’s home to see if he went there but he’s not. Then I went to his friend’s home to check and he was there but they said he left already, and then I stay and wait for him to come back.

When he came back, I asked him to tell me what happened that makes him go like that. The only answered he gave me, “go I had enough of you” and he went out and left.

I followed him and asked him to tell me what is going on and I was crying at the same time, all he said, “Go, I had enough of you.” I stood there and cried then I went home.

I moved and stay with my aunty (my mother’s sister) and think to find a job to get some money to support me and wait and see what will happen to our marriage.