Names changed because the law says that naming offenders who have harmed children, or the child victim, irrespective of how old they are now, is illegal.
Even if the victim wants the public to know, to perhaps prevent a similar tragedy, it is not allowed.
1. Name of victim: Emm
Victim Impact Statement by Jan – the mother of the victim, the ex-wife of the perpetrator.
Sentencing court: Newcastle Court: 2007
2. Details of personal harm suffered as a direct result of the offence(s):
Physical bodily harm
The stress level and pain I feel is so strong it may cuase a physical illness in time. Since the offender admitted his crimes against my daughter recently in court, my body feels as if it has shut down, I have no energy, my heart feels broken. In the pit of my stomach I feel as if my insides have been ripped out – leaving a churning pit of pain. I have constant headaches, and my body aches. I can’t stop crying.
Mental illness or nervous shock
When I heard my husband of 30 years and father of our children, step-father to my children, admit guilt after all his lies – that he had sexually abused my daughter, his step-daughter, I felt an overwhelming, frightening pain as if my heart actually broke. His admission came after our family had gone through many years of turmoil – there had been some claims of odd behaviour from my daughter, then dismissive counter claims by him. I was always the one in the middle – the problem solver – the placater, the reasonable one trying to balance things so we could all have a peaceful, successful family. In that moment, when he said the words ‘guilty’, I realised my entire life with him had been a sham!
And I am so very ashamed. To the centre of my core. I cannot bear to think of our past sexual, apparently loving relationship, and know that during our marriage he also sexually abused my daughter. I am gutted by regret and the fact that my love and commitment to him obscured his criminal behaviour toward my child, in our house.
I am deeply resentful that his secretive crimes placed me in a position as the one who repeatedly had to sort it out, and make decisions and to try to do what was best as both wife and mother. My daughter had become rebellious, I punished her – when now I know that her problems reflected her masked screaming for attention and safety, and how she must have suffered when I failed to understand her. I was always the one repeatedly left ‘to figure out what was the truth’ – and to ‘make things right’ in and for ‘the family’. I had repeatedly wrestled with ‘who was telling the truth?’ in all the discord – not of a sexual nature but disagreements, between my beautiful daughter – my little girl, and my otherwise loving husband, an adult I had vowed to honour and respect in my marriage vows. He was very convincing and to my eternal regret, I believed him, over her.
Now that I know, by his own words, that I had chosen to believe this criminal, a liar who desecrated everything he said he stood for, for his own selfish gratification, and knowing now how thoroughly he repeatedly conned me , I find my entire life – past and present – trashed. I feel desperate, suicidal, and knowing that my darling child suffered so very much, will haunt me until the day I die. I feel hard and bitter towards him, and I am not used to such anger within me. I am so proud of her for having the courage to speak her truth, against such odds.
He was always so convincing, able to manipulate me to see things his way – I am so angry and tormented that I fell for his skill at relocating the cause of her ‘bad behaviour’ for all sorts of reasons, such when he often said her behaviour was related to my own mother’s mental illness – sort of a family sickness, brought via me, onto my child. My daughter wasn’t sick – she was traumatised! That’s why she was so ‘difficult’. He always favoured her – I thought he was trying so hard to make sure she never felt second best as a step child. Now I know why – to bribe her into silence. I know now that her behaviour was ‘normal’ for a child being abused and disbelieved.
She must have felt so powerless, unloved, so deserted and I, her own mother, despite my best efforts, failed her and I am sick to my stomach for her. I had, in fact, tried to report what she had told me, I rang the Department of Community Services for help, I made him leave our home until it was sorted out. I wanted the professionals to investigate and the Joint Investigation Team investigated. I am so upset that if the system had really tried, if it had helped me to see what I was looking at, it could have saved my daughter and all the years of problems. The fact he now admits it, feels to me like a bomb going off in my mind. It was too little, too late for me and my family is lost to me, because of him.
What is eating at me is that Jim always cooperated with the experts – He’d say that he ‘welcomed the scrutiny because he had nothing to hide’ and ‘it needed to be sorted out’. They talked to Emm, and for some reason she wasn’t prepared to disclose, she denied there was anything wrong, and even remarked that she wasn’t in danger. The experts decided ‘there was no paedophilic behaviour, that ours was a safe home and he could return home’. Yet her complaints were repeated and there were several times this whole scenario was repeated – but ‘the system’ did not try very hard to find out what we only now know is the truth, by his own admission.
I remember DoCS saying that ‘Emm got on well with her step-father’ – of course she did – at least when she was safe in the company of others being present – the abuse only happened in secret! She obviously cared for him as a child does a parent, and she had to rely on him, but she hated the behaviour – and apparently it isn’t unusual at all for a child to feel oppositional things simultaneously. And both apparently very commonly occurring. I didn’t know that then, but the experts should have.
I feel so guilty because for her, his crimes have already taken their toll well before his eventual confession. I watched my daughter as she suffered mental illness and wonder whether most of that was caused by trauma and having noone believe her, no agency able to stop the violence and protect her. Like many children, she did sometimes make up stories, and was quite fiery. But what breaks my heart is that when even her own mother could not finally believe her, when DoCS didn’t identify abuse, why then would she trust and tell mental health practitioners? I am tormented by the fact that if I’d been able to get her the right help, she’d be ok now. Regret and anger are eating me alive.
I thought I was a good, loving mother, yet I know now that made it easy for him to use her. He made me an unknowing accomplice in his crimes and because I took his word over my child’s, and my fractured relationships with my children are my life sentences. It is deeply wounding to look back, in the glare of the spotlight of hindsight to see what I have done, how naive, stupid I must seem now, and must have been then, and what that cost her.
It’s hard to find the words to explain the terrible impact and my feelings of having been a total failure as a parent because of his manipulation and lies and thinking what he did to her, and how she suffered for so long.
His admission, after years of denial, came at me as a knife would – stabbing me, reinforcing my gullibility for having repeatedly taken his word over hers. Many, many times. Since that day, in court when I heard those terrible words, I hear it all again, I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I spend my days sobbing with regret and disgust.
I am burdened by such overwhelming guilt. She was the truthful one. Her suffering, and my repeated failure to believe her, to stop the abuse and make her safe because I had believed him incapable of such behaviour has crashed onto me and stays, like unbearable burden. I wonder if I will survive. And if I do, for what? My children have quite rightly deserted me for my crime and my life is empty.
I feel as if I have been sexually abused and betrayed too, a victim of Domestic Violence by his actions. How he could engage in marital relations with me and sexually abuse my daughter disgusts me. I feel defiled, dirty, violated. I imagine what he was thinking in times of apparent intimacy, of what he thought of me, of us. I have no belief in my ability to judge character anymore.
I can’t imagine how degraded she must feel. I am so sorry for what my children have been through, and I am miserable because I do not know how I could ever be forgiven by my children.
Can counselling make it come out differently for me? Will I heal? Will I ever have my children back? I will try once the shock gets less. I have never felt hate before, but it feels as if my loving heart has been destroyed and in its place is disgust and hatred toward this man, who was ‘my husband’ at law even though his vows clearly were a ploy and meant nothing to him.
I am now, only since I heard those terrible words, learning about this crime of the sexual abuse of our children. I cannot adequately describe the dawning realisation that he probably even targeted me, a single mother with beautiful children, he wooed and married me, and stayed with me for all those years, but his real target was Emm. I now know that child sex offenders are often married, yet it was our marriage and covenant it represents that made me blind to his crimes and protected his best interests.
I have lost a lot of weight, work has become nearly impossible, and I’ve had a nervous breakdown. I get nasty messages from my daughters who blame me, and I feel about as low as one can be. The impact on me of this crime is profound.
This statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief, and I would like this read out loud, to the court.