“Do you see the pain I feel?”
That was the question a woman, 20, tearfully asked her sexually abusive father in the Napier District Court today shortly before he was jailed for 14 years.
The woman, who was supported by her boyfriend on one side and a detective nearby on the other, said her life only began when she broke away from her parents.
“Do you understand that this is not about you?” she asked the man who not only abused her but encouraged her brother to do the same. “Because you don’t carry the consequences. I do.
“I hope you see what I have overcome, how I’ve grown now … and no, it’s not because of you,” she said, describing her struggle with the physical and mental injuries caused by years of being forced to have sex with him.
“I’m now alive. My true self is starting to shine through the cracks.”
Her father can’t be named, to protect the identity of his daughter, who had to endure giving evidence at two trials after the first was discontinued because of Covid lockdowns.
Judge Russell Collins today praised the woman for her “extraordinary strength and courage” as he sentenced her father on one charge of raping her and three of unlawfully having sex with her repeatedly between the ages of 12 and 18.
A further conviction of being a party to sexual connection with a person under 16 arose because the father encouraged her younger brother to have sex with her also. The court heard that the brother was considered a victim in the case.
The girl’s mother is awaiting sentence on two charges of failing to protect a child, while knowing that her daughter was at risk of sexual assault from her father.
The woman said she was not a victim but a “survivor”.
“Because, why should I live a life as a victim?” she said.
“I was promised as a child that the cycle of abuse would end, and that my and my siblings’ lives would be better than the childhoods of those who raised me,” the woman said.
“It angers and pains me that this has gone on for far too long.”
She said she had been under significant pressure from other relatives not to speak out about what happened to her.
“But my hope is that by speaking my truth I can influence others who may have similar experiences to also speak out because so many of these cases go unnoticed in New Zealand,” she said.
“My life, my growth and my recovery really didn’t start until I broke away from my parents. I believe my parents both need to be held accountable for what they have done.
“I am determined not to let my past define me. I am taking my voice and my body back because they do not belong to anyone else but me.”
Judge Collins said no one who listened to the woman’s statement could doubt that she was telling the truth, but he noted that the father continued to deny his offending.
“That is your absolute right,” the judge told the man. “But every juror was sure that what [she] had to say was true.”
Judge Collins imposed a minimum sentence of six years and four months, meaning the father cannot be considered for release by the Parole Board until August 2028.
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