Parents are supposed to protect their children, but as we learned in Sword and Scale episode 78, there are some parents out there who failed this basic tenet of parenthood so severely that we could only listen with mouths agape at the sheer terror those poor children must have felt. Mothers and fathers, hug your kids, because today’s story is another such tale.

A New South Wales man has been sentenced to a minimum of 36 years in prison, while his wife has also received an 11-year sentence, for the extreme sexual and physical abuse of their own daughter. Media has been forbidden from identifying the couple, but Judge Sarah Huggett who presided over the case was quoted in The Guardian as saying that it was an “impossible task” to hand down a sentence reflective of the irreparable harm caused to the victim and that “she will suffer the consequences of his despicable and abhorrent conduct of the rest of her life.”

Both parents were highly educated, the father having been an athlete who at one time qualified for the Olympics and later worked as a coach. Most people outside of the family thought very highly of the couple and their young daughters, but even the nicest families have their secrets, and the skeletons piling up in this family’s closet would eventually begin to spill out onto the front lawn.

At the age of 19, one of the couple’s daughters decided to finally go to police about the sexual and physical abuse occurring primarily at the hands of her father, but had also described inappropriate and passive behavior on behalf of her mother as well.

According to the victim, who has also not been identified for legal reasons, the abuse began at the age of 5. Like her father, the victim was involved in competitive sports and stakes were high, even as a young child. Failure to perform her best during these competitions would result in her father taking her to the shed on the edge of the family’s rural property.

NSWShed

During these sessions in the shed the father would sexually abuse his daughter digitally and by other implements, later raping her as she became older and more developed. The victim described having been locked in a box or other times being bound by the wrists inside the shed, sometimes for as many as three days. She was told that if she ever told anyone about the abuse that he would kill her with a machete and another time threatening the girl by holding a chainsaw to her neck.

On at least one occasion the father had wrapped the victim with barbed wire and left her in the shed. In a moment of desperation, the victim used her own blood to scribble a tragic message on the wall in the event that she died there.

The woman also described other incidents during her childhood including one particular incident where she had been sick and vomited on the floor. Her father reacted by telling the woman, then just a young child, that she was disgusting and forced her to eat it.

The victim’s mother knew that her husband had been raping her youngest daughter and did little to stop it. At 8-years-old the woman says that her mother told her to make noises in order to make the rape more enjoyable for herself and her father. The mother also took it upon herself to digitally masturbate her daughter in order to show her how good sex could feel and on another occasion proceeded to instruct her daughters on masturbation, which she demonstrated on herself in front of them.

As the girl became older, her father believed that he may have inadvertently gotten her pregnant. He forced the girl to have medicine balls dropped on her stomach repeatedly.

This case came to light in 2011, when the victim was admitted to a mental institution and felt safe enough to speak with police. She led investigators to the shed where she alleged the assaults had taken place and was able to show police where she had buried some of her father’s torture implements in the yard as a child. The stories were later corroborated by her sister and DNA found on some of the items concluded that the stories were true.

There is little doubt that the emotional trauma the sadistic abuse has caused the woman will irreparably impact the rest of her life. Thankfully, her abusers, the very people who were supposed to protect her, will be behind bars for many years to come.