A court has heard a SA step father allegedly physically and sexually abused his step-children, beat them with whips and threatened to kill them.
*TRIGGER warning, this story contains distressing content*
The man, who cannot be identified, has gone on trial in the District Court, charged with threatening life, indecent assault, gross indecency and two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a child, reports ABC NEWS.
Prosecutor Genevieve Spencer said the man was accused of abusing his step-children, who thought he was their biological father, from when they were as young as seven and eight.
“In addition to the sexual abuse, the children were physically assaulted by the accused. They were hit with a belt or whip and their lives were threatened,” she said.
The court heard the man allegedly told the children he would kill them if they told anyone about the abuse and once threatened to cut off the girl’s head with an axe.
The jury was told the boy was subjected to “daily physical abuse” by his step-father as well as regular sexual abuse.
“The accused would belt him, punch him, hit him with objects like spanners, hammers and chairs and pick him up by the throat and pin him against walls,” Ms Spencer said.
Ms Spencer told the jury one of the charges – threatening life – arose out of an allegation that the man had held the boy over a hole in the ground with a gun to his head.
She said he became angry at the boy because he had a hole in his soccer boots.
“The accused dug a hole in the backyard of the house, sat [the boy] on his knees beside the hole, stood over him and placed a gun to the right side of his head. The accused was shouting at [the boy] while he did this,” she told the jury.
“[The boy] was scared, he did not know if he was going to shoot him.
“While on his knees he punched the accused and managed to run from the yard to his aunty’s house nearby.”
The court heard the man later collected the boy and drove him to a dam “shouting and screaming” at him, then allegedly sexually assaulted the boy.
Ms Spencer said the accused also regularly physically and sexually abused the girl, including stripping off her clothes hitting her with a belt or whip on her bare skin.
“She would be hit with such force that it would sting, leave red marks and cause her to cry in pain,” she told the jury.
“On the prosecution case [the girl] was beaten with the whip or belt nearly every time she visited the accused.”
The court heard on one occasion the man allegedly tried to rape his step-daughter but she managed to break free and run away but the man chased her and threatened to kill her.
The prosecutor said both step-children, now adults, would give evidence in the trial which is expected to run for three weeks.
Signs of sexual abuse
The main message from survivors is about the importance of paying attention to children’s behaviour. If children are being sexually abused, there may be physical signs such as bleeding from the vagina or anus (back passage), sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or poor hygiene.
However, signs in a child’s behaviour are more likely.
•significant changes in behaviour, aggressive behaviour or regression (going back) to an earlier stage of development (for example, bedwetting)
•sexual behaviour that is not appropriate to the child’s age
•depression or social withdrawal
•getting into trouble at school (sometimes to avoid going home)
•self-harming behaviours (for example, self-mutilation, suicide attempts or prostitution).
Where to get help
•Child Protection Service – to report child abuse. Contact your local office or the DHS Child Protection Crisis Line on Tel. 131 278
•Police – to report the abuser
•Centres Against Sexual Assault Tel. 1800 806 292Â FREE (24 hours) – for support and counselling
•National Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence hotline Tel. 1800 737 732 (24 hours) – for support
LIFELINE 13 11 14
•Children are not responsible for sexual abuse.
•Sexual abuse is a crime.
•Children often talk about the abuse a little at a time.
•It is very common for survivors to repress memories of abuse.
•Sexual abuse is experienced by girls and boys. Children cannot stop sexual abuse.
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