Challenges in Helping a Client Take Steps to Access Justice

At the beginning of the year the WCCC worked closely with a young married mother, who came to the Centre seeking help after being raped by a Police Officer. She is married with 2 children and her much older husband is a drug-user who physically, sexually and emotionally abused her. When she first came to WCCC she felt helpless and found it difficult to place her trust in anyone. She felt she couldn’t talk to anybody and knew that her own family were working closely with her husband to victimise her. She was in a state of shock, extremely nervous and afraid and found it extremely challenging to describe what had happen to her.

Over several counselling sessions, the Counsellor helped her to consider her options. The main challenge with this case was that she refused to speak with any police because she had lost trust in them following the rape and ongoing harassment. After some time, she agreed for WCCC to arrange a meeting with the Police Commissioner, who encouraged her to write a police statement so that the appropriate steps and procedures could be taken. She decided to do so, but refused to speak to any other police, and was assisted with preparing an affidavit by WCCC and had it sworn in at the court registry. The Police have not accepted the affidavit as sufficient and have asked WCCC to work with the client to get her to take a statement with the assigned police officer. She has refused to do so but is still receiving follow up communications from her case counsellor to ensure that if and when she is ready, WCCC will be ready to continue supporting her.

“I just don’t have the guts to tell anyone”

I use to work to one of the government department before and we had some problem in which they took me to court.

 One of the government agents was working on my case and suppose to take me to the police station to take down my statement, but he took me to some bush and rapes me.

It has been four years since then; I just can’t have the guts to tell anyone about what happen to me, even my mother. I can’t get to report it to the police as he’s a government agent; I assume that they’ll just wipe it away.

 I was ashamed of myself to even tell anyone that I have lost my dignity, my worth of being a woman, the one thing that you live for as being a woman.

I was working together with one of the lawyers concerning my case and I told him about what happen to me for the first time hoping that the lawyer will brought it up to be known, but he didn’t.

 I have to see one of the government offices concerning the sentencing of my case and I have to explain my case from the beginning, I mention something about what happen to me and this person encourage me to seek help from the centre and I did.

 At the moment we have a deal with the police, they are always there beside me to help and to go through everything, and I am more at ease at home feeling good about myself. I am just waiting for my court case.

 

 

“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.

I just don’t have the guts to tell anyone

A first hand account from a client at the WCCC

I use to work to one of the government department before and we had some problem in which they took me to court.

One of the government agents was working on my case and suppose to take me to the police station to take down my statement, but he took me to some bush and raped me.

It has been four years since then; I just can’t have the cuts to tell anyone about what happen to me, even my mother. I can’t get to report it to the police as he’s a government agent; I assume that they’ll just wipe it away.

I was ashamed of myself to even tell anyone that I have lost my dignity, my worth of being a woman, the one thing that you live for as being a woman.

I was working together with one of the lawyers concerning my case and I told him about what happen to me for the first time hoping that the lawyer will brought it up to be known, but he didn’t.

I have to see one of the government offices concerning the sentencing of my case and I have to explain my case from the beginning, I mention something about what happen to me and this person encourage me to seek help from the centre and I did.

At the moment we have a deal with the police, they are always there beside me to help and to go through everything, and I am more at ease at home feeling good about myself. I am just waiting for my court case.

 

I was so frightened and so sad that I kept quiet

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.

 

“He told me not to tell anyone”

First hand account of violence from a client at WCCC.
I was 15 when my father began treating me in a way that was morally wrong. He would touch me and say things that you should not say to your daughter.
He told me not to tell anyone, especially anyone on my mother’s side of the family. I always knew that it was not right – but he is my father.
It made me feel very alone.
I felt different to my brothers and sisters. I still feel shame for what has happened.
Now I am 19, and I finally had the courage to tell my aunty on my mother’s side about the way my father was treating me. Straight away she told me that we must go to the police, and I was happy to go with her. I was very happy that my aunty listened and understood. I feel that she cares for my safety.
The police took me to the Crisis Centre so that I could stay in the safe house. It is difficult with my family right now. I feel safe and free here at the safe house.
Freedom is very important to me – it is a big change from my recent past. I hope that my future will always be free.

“You have to be strong”

A firsthand account of reporting sexual abuse to the police and prosecuting it 

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.

I was so frightened and so sad that I kept quiet

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.

 

Why would he lie?

First hand account of violence from a client of WCCC.

 

We had been dating for two months when the first incident happened. I was a virgin and he was very respectful that I did not want to sleep with him. In this time he did not force me to have sex, which really impressed me. I thought he was a very good man.

I knew he did not have a good past. But I felt like I was here to help him.

Sometimes I can’t believe that I have lived through this experience. I cannot believe that it is me who has made these decisions. But this has been my journey and I would like others to learn from it.

My father had died only a few days beforehand. I turned up to his house in my van with an envelope with the money for my father’s funeral in it – thousands of Pa’angas.  He offered me a drink while we were talking. – I only had one, but I got so drunk that I completely blacked out and woke up hours later feeling strange.  There were like five or six men drinking outside his house and he’s gone in my van with my purse with the money in it.

I usually drink and it takes a lot to get me drunk –  so it was very unusual that one drink would do this to me. I went outside and drank with his friends. He came back later and join us.  Later I noticed that the money had gone from my van.

His story for what happened is that I got very drunk and refused to have sex with him, and demanded that I have sex with his friends. Then he said I had sex with his friends while he went and bought the drinks.

I was unsure what to believe. Why would he lie? But as a virgin, I did not hurt at all from the sex that he said that I had. And just knowing myself, I couldn’t really believe that I would do this. It took time but I came to realise that he was lying about this situation.

This night has become a constant source of conflict for us. Every time he gets drunk or went out and drink kava tonga, came back home and I do not want to sleep with him, he brings it up as an example of how badly I have treated him. He never believes me that it is not true. It is exhausting. I don’t know why he wants to see me as a woman who has treated him so badly. It is mad. Sometimes I think he needs psychological help.

In our relationship it is as though he does not want me to be happy. Whenever I am with my family, who take very good care of me, and do not want me to even move or get up to clean my dishes, he gets angry.

Often I do not want to have sex. I just don’t feel like it. He is very persistant. I get so tired from him asking and grabbing me. Sometimes before he goes out to kava I have sex with him because I know that when he comes home drunk he will wake me up to have sex, and I am tired and I just want to sleep. But when he comes home he still wakes me up. And if I do not want to have sex, he yells and screams at me about how I treated him that time, and insists that I must make up for it.  This is a form of violence. I feel trapped.

Sometimes he gets very crazy angry and he physically abuses me. He throws rocks at me, beats me with metal and sticks and anything he can get his hands on. He is careful to abuse me in areas that I can hide under clothes so people can not see. Sometimes though he has hit my face and given me black and bruised eyes. It is embarrassing that people can see how he treats me.

I have tried everything to get our relationship to work. We have a child together and I do not want my daughter growing up not in a happy environment. It has been two years, and this man will be involved in my life forever, living  through my daughter. I keep thinking that i see change in him, that he will not stay this way forever. But he keeps drinking and the behaviour never stops. For now I feel that we have made real progress in that he is starting to understand that the problem is with himself, not with me.

I got counselling from the Women and Children Crisis Centre. Whenever I want to end things with him, which I have tried to do many many times through our relationship, I know  its best to do it over the phone from the Crisis Centre, so that he can not hit me and hurt me with his words or beat me up. He has come in for joint counselling a few times – he lied in the counselling session and told them about what I had done to him. I was happy and grateful that the women counsellors at the Centre could see that this was a story made up to address his own insecurities. Talking and support has helped so much.

The last time he was totally out of control. He beat me at the bush and took me to the beach. He raped me in the backyard then took me to the graveyard. He shoved sticks in side me and caused me to bleed from the wounds caused by the stick pushed into my inner thighs. It started around 4pm and stopped when it was already dark. He used everything he could grab – a stem from a manioke tree, rocks, rods, the mirror he pulled off the car. These photos were taken almost a week after this incident – I came into the centre to get documentation of my case. I wished they could see the injuries straight after they happened.

 

I do not want to go to the Police, or to go through the court system. I am scared to give him reasons to hurt the rest of my family. I want things to be resolved peacefully.

 

My advice to other women – ask for help as soon as you have any indication that he does not want you to be happy. The sooner you address it the better – it only gets harder and worse the longer you have been together. It will make you feel much much better even when you talk about your problem in the process.  Come to the crisis centre – they understand and will help you work out what you want to do to make the situation better.