Father’s sexual abuse: Woman confronts mother who had failed to act | #childabuse | #children | #kids

The girl endured years of abuse between the ages of 12 and 18. Photo / 123RF

“Why didn’t you stop it?”

That was the question from a daughter, shortly before her mother was sentenced for failing to protect her from years of sexual abuse by her father.

“You heard him. You knew,” said the daughter, now aged 20, in a victim impact statement.

“You told us as children that you would leave him, but you never did.”

In April, the woman’s father was sentenced to 14 years in prison on one charge of raping her and three representative counts of unlawfully having sex with her repeatedly between the ages of 12 and 18.

On Thursday in the Napier District Court, it was the mother’s turn to be sentenced after she was found guilty by a jury on two charges of failing to protect a child, each covering two different periods of time.

Judge Russell Collins, who sent the father to jail, sentenced the mother to home detention for 12 months, to be followed by another year of post-detention conditions under the supervision of probation officers.

The court was told that the mother, who cannot be named to protect her daughter’s identity, knew her husband was abusing their daughter for at least 16 months.

“As someone who was meant to protect me, why didn’t you stop it?” the daughter said as she read her victim impact statement to the court.

She called her testimony her “survivor statement”, saying, “because why should I lead my life as a victim?”

Her mother sat in the dock masked and looking downwards while her daughter was standing in the courtroom reading her statement. She did not respond to the questions.

The daughter said her life and her recovery did not really begin until she broke away from her parents, and she now felt nothing towards her mother except a “blank void”.

Crown solicitor Brenna McKenzie argued the mother should be sent to prison rather than the alternative sentence of home detention.

She said the Crown acknowledged the mother had been subject to the “controlling nature” of her husband but that should determine the length of the sentence and not the type.

Defence counsel Matthew Phelps said the mother had herself experienced an “awful upbringing” filled with dysfunction, sexual abuse and violence.

Her own brother had said she had lacked love in her life when she met her future husband around the age of 15.

There was almost an element of grooming and brainwashing in her marriage to him. She did not have the strength of character or social skills to stand up to her husband.

Phelps argued for home detention.

“She [the mother] simply lacked the independence or free will to do anything,” he said.

Judge Collins told the daughter: “If I believed sending your mother to prison for many, many years would help you, I would do it. But my experience tells us it doesn’t.

“Your recovery will come from you, what you achieve in life and the relationships you build.”

He sentenced the woman to a year of home detention – the maximum possible.

“The critical point is that liberty is still being taken away from you,” he told the mother.

Judge Collins said he could not give the mother any discount for a guilty plea because she had chosen to go to trial, nor for showing any remorse, “because you have shown none”.

Sexual harm – Where to get help
If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7: • Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email support@safetotalk.nz
• For more info or to web chat visit safetotalk.nz
Alternatively contact your local police station – click here for a list.
If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it’s not your fault.

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