By Jonica Jay
This is the story of a teenage girl who was continuously abused by her stepfather. She really wanted to tell her mother but she could not due to the constant threat she received from the perpetrator. She constantly suffered abuse every time when her mother was away. With the help of partners, Femili PNG was able to assist and she is now back and safe attending school.
*Lisa (not her real name) started experiencing sexual abuse from her stepfather (perpetrator) when she was 16 years old.
After her biological father died, Lisa’s mother remarried and brought Lisa to live with them in a coastal province and continue her primary school education. Everything was fine in the first two years of living with her mother and stepfather. However, Lisa’s movements were restricted: Lisa could not hang out with friends, especially boys. She was only allowed to stay in the house and takes care of her siblings.
The abuse started one weekend when Lisa’s mother left to do some errands and Lisa was left taking care of her siblings. When the perpetrator realized this, he called Lisa into his home office and forced her to view pornographic material. Lisa managed to escape when a community leader came to their house to visit the perpetrator. After this first incident, Lisa wanted to tell her mother but the perpetrator had threatened her not to tell.
The following weekend, Lisa’s mother went out again and left Lisa to take care of her siblings at home. When the perpetrator came home and saw that Lisa was alone with her siblings, he called her to his office, beat, and raped her at gunpoint. Lisa was too scared to tell her mother due to the constant threats she received from the stepfather. The abuse continued every time Lisa’s mother was away. When the abuse was happening, Lisa tried screaming, but was told by the perpetrator that no one would help her because he had powerful friends.
Lisa tried to tell her mother, but the perpetrator closely monitored her movements. One morning while cooking breakfast, the perpetrator touched her inappropriately. Her mother saw the incident. When they were alone, Lisa’s mother asked what is happening between her and her stepfather. Lisa told her mother about the inappropriate touching but not the rape incidences, as she was scared.
Femili PNG’s intervention
Lisa and her mother reported the abuse to the Family and Sexual Violence Unit (FSVU) and Family Support Centre (FSC) at Angau where she received medical and psychosocial care. FSC referred the case to Femili PNG for safe accommodation and a protection order. Lisa’s mother got an Interim Protection Order that was converted to longer-term Protection Order, which included Lisa as well. After several months at the safe accommodation, Lisa and her mother returned to their village. The Sexual Offences Squad (SOS) arrested the perpetrator but he was later released on bail.
One week after Lisa and her mother were repatriated, the mother went back to live with the perpetrator. Lisa’s mother told Lisa to come to Lae to attend the case court hearing. When she came, her mother asked her to withdraw the case against her stepfather. However, when asked by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Lisa strongly stated that she wanted to pursue the case. Lisa had no place to stay but with her mother and abusive stepfather to continue her education.
While living back with her mother and stepfather, her stepfather continued to abuse her sexually and breached the protection order. Again, Lisa and her mother reported the new incident to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Due to the inability of the mother to protect her child, the two were placed in different safe houses. Not long afterwards, Lisa’s mother left the safe accommodation and returned to live with the perpetrator. While accommodated at the safe accommodation, Lisa managed to sit for her national examination with help from the provincial Welfare office and the Department of Education. Through close coordination amongst key partners like the FSVU, SOS, CID, FSC, Public Solicitor’s office, Public Prosecutor’s office, safe house, Welfare, Education department, the courts and Femili PNG, Lisa’s case was successfully committed to the National Court. After her school exams, Femili PNG assisted Lisa by repatriating her to live with her aunt while waiting for the court hearing.
On August 2022, Lisa and her aunt were assisted to attend her court hearing in Lae. The perpetrator pleaded guilty to all charges and is now in prison awaiting his sentence. The court also charged Lisa’s mother for contempt of court and sentenced her to one-year imprisonment. She has served 6 months with the other 6 months suspended and released on the condition of 2-years good behavior bond.
Despite all odds, Lisa is focusing on finishing school. She aims to work in a profession where she can help other people. She was grateful for the help and support she received from the service providers. She said, ‘’they are not our family by blood, but they have done a lot for us.’’ She also added that she is happy that the perpetrator will face the consequences of his actions.
Femili PNG is supported by the Australian Government in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea as part of the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program.
If you are a survivor of family and sexual violence and require assistance, contact us.