Harrowing abuse revealed in report
Accounts of people being dragged by the hair, slammed into walls, bitten, strangled and nearly drowned have been revealed in a report on child abuse and domestic violence in New Zealand.
The revelations come in the release today of the long-awaited Glenn Inquiry Report into child abuse and domestic violence.
The $2 million inquiry, set up in late 2012 with funding from millionaire Sir Owen Glenn, aimed to address New Zealand's appalling record of child abuse and domestic violence by giving those most affected a voice, inquiry patron and former Governor General Dame Cath Tizard said.
The People's Report summarised the experiences of about 500 survivors of abuse, frontline workers and offenders who told their stories to the inquiry.
Abuse resulted in broken teeth, noses, fingers and ribs. In one case, a child was burnt to death.
A woman told the inquiry her her son had witnessed her partner sitting on her daughter's face so she couldn't breathe.
When his sister turned pale, the boy was scared she would die.
"Their dad thought that was funny", the woman said.
The report also offered harrowing accounts of sexual violence, victims of which were often ignored or dismissed.
One person said: "You say your father had sex with you before you were two, people just sort of go, 'Oh, yeah'."
Another said their sister was used as a sex slave by five of her foster fathers.
"The file said she plays up to the men, is very promiscuous child [sic], and nothing was ever done."
One woman said her father would tie her mother to a bed and let his friends rape her.
Abuse also took the form of neglect, which was used by some fathers as a way to punish their former partners.
One recounted: "The kids have gone seven days without a shower when they're with their dad. And for a 13-year-old girl going through her menstrual cycle and stuff that's disgraceful."
One person said childhood emotional abuse had scarred her for life.
"The belittling, shame and humiliation, and the people doing and saying to the child: 'you're worthless', 'you're bad', 'you're a mistake', yelling at them, threatening them, bullying them, ignoring them for a punishment, the silent treatment, they won't talk, no hugs, no kisses, no affection, neglect, emotional abuse, calling them stupid," the person said.
"As for me, I was the devil's daughter and I'll go to hell. Guilt, that's what comes into the child, and shame."
One mother said the court system was responsible for the breakdown of her children's relationship with their father.
"The sad thing is, if the court had taken the domestic violence seriously from day one, there were things that could've been put in place to make the contact with the kids and their dad safe and healthy," she said.
"But instead, they hate him now, they really hate him.
"They shouldn't feel that way about their father, even if he was abusive towards me."
There were calls from victims for more support: "Not everybody has a family, and from what I know of other people that have been abused in childhood, it is ongoing, it is the rest of their life, it is the rest of my life. I will die because of it."