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Rekiah's Law



Table of contents

Cover

Title Page

Copyright Page

Contents

Foreword by Leigh Hay

Acknowledgements

CHAPTER 1: 11th October 2013

CHAPTER 2: The Good Life

CHAPTER 3: A Mother’s Despair

CHAPTER 4: Divorce

CHAPTER 5: A New Life

CHAPTER 6: Rekiah and Nelson

CHAPTER 7: Life after India

CHAPTER 8: The Lead up to October 11th

CHAPTER 9: The Funeral

CHAPTER 10: Time to Contemplate

CHAPTER 11: Journey of Grief

CHAPTER 12: The Committal Hearings

CHAPTER 13: Milestones 2014

CHAPTER 14: Pre-Trial Journaling

CHAPTER 15: The Trial

CHAPTER 16: Thoughts about the Trial

CHAPTER 17: Rekiah’s Law

CHAPTER 18: Forgiveness

CHAPTER 19: The Sentencing

CHAPTER 20: The Media

CHAPTER 21: Domestic Violence

CHAPTER 22: Reminders

CHAPTER 23: Reflections and Lessons

CHAPTER 24: The Future

Kerryn’s Eulogy

Stacey’s Tribute to Rekiah

Bethany’s Tribute to Rekiah

Kerryn’s Victim Impact Statement

Posts from Rekiah’s Facebook Page

Kiah’s Rose

Resources

About the Author

Photo Section



Cover





Title Page

REKIAH’S LAW

A MOTHER’S STORY OF FORGIVENESS AND
HOPE AFTER HER DAUGHTER’S MURDER

KERRYN ROBERTSON





Copyright Page

Ark House Press

PO Box 1722, Port Orchard, WA 98366 USA

PO Box 1321, Mona Vale NSW 1660 Australia

PO Box 318 334, West Harbour, Auckland 0661 New Zealand

arkhousepress.com

© 2017 Kerryn Robertson

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Cataloguing in Publication Data:

Title: Rekiah’s Law

ISBN: 978-0-6481734-1-0 (pbk.)

Subjects: Biography; Domestic Violence;

Other Authors/Contributors: Robertson, Kerryn

Cover illustration: Stacey Wilson

Design by initiateagency.com





Contents

CONTENTS

Foreword by Leigh Hay

Acknowledgements

CHAPTER 1:   11th October 2013

CHAPTER 2:   The Good Life

CHAPTER 3:   A Mother’s Despair

CHAPTER 4:   Divorce

CHAPTER 5:   A New Life

CHAPTER 6:   Rekiah and Nelson

CHAPTER 7:   Life after India

CHAPTER 8:   The Lead up to October 11th

CHAPTER 9:   The Funeral

CHAPTER 10:   Time to Contemplate

CHAPTER 11:   Journey of Grief

CHAPTER 12:   The Committal Hearings

CHAPTER 13:   Milestones 2014

CHAPTER 14:   Pre-Trial Journaling

CHAPTER 15:   The Trial

CHAPTER 16:   Thoughts about the Trial

CHAPTER 17:   Rekiah’s Law

CHAPTER 18:   Forgiveness

CHAPTER 19:   The Sentencing

CHAPTER 20:   The Media

CHAPTER 21:   Domestic Violence

CHAPTER 22:   Reminders

CHAPTER 23:   Reflections and Lessons

CHAPTER 24:   The Future

Kerryn’s Eulogy

Stacey’s Tribute to Rekiah

Bethany’s Tribute to Rekiah

Kerryn’s Victim Impact Statement

Posts from Rekiah’s Facebook Page

Kiah’s Rose

Resources

About the Author





Foreword by Leigh Hay

Foreword by Leigh Hay

On 11th October, 2013, Rekiah Lee O’Donnell lost her life. She was 22 years of age. The jury believed the man responsible for Rekiah’s death guilty of manslaughter. Rekiah’s family believed him guilty of murder. And so at the end of an eighteen month wait for the case to go to court, and subsequent four week trial, a young woman was dead, a man sentenced and a family shattered.

The story could have ended there. It could have been filed away in the transcripts of a judicial trial and the memories of a grieving family. But the mother of Rekiah O’Donnell wasn’t prepared to let the death of her daughter fade from public consciousness. Not because she wanted to harbour understandable resentment and fuel justifiable rage, but because she wanted to forgive and move on, and through the writing of Rekiah’s Law and her family’s positive action, to eventually come to terms with the loss of a much loved daughter, step-daughter, sister and granddaughter.

Rekiah O’Donnell was a victim of domestic violence. Kerryn Robertson was determined that the story of her daughter’s short life would be shared to give hope to other victims and families caught up in the cycle of violence.

Kerryn tells Rekiah’s story simply and truthfully. Kerryn is not a woman prone to flowery language or dramatic effect. Her words are at times both poignant and hard hitting and this book is not always comfortable reading. But domestic violence is never comfortable. It’s brutal, manipulative, obsessive and controlling. It’s insidious and intrusive, stripping victims of independence and crushing their individuality.

But in death there is hope. There is reasoned belief in a bigger picture. A beautiful, bubbly, intelligent young woman will live on through the creation of ‘Rekiah’s Law’. This factual book of the same name will forever tell the story of a caring girl’s belief in her fellow human beings and a loyal family’s story of unconditional love.

Rekiah O’Donnell’s life was tragically cut short. But what has come from her death is the determination to raise society awareness – to speak out against domestic violence, to empower victims to have the courage to seek support, and to lobby the government for laws that will make our community safer.

Rekiah’s Law is not just a powerful read. It’s a life-affirming message, told by a mother who speaks from the heart.





Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge the many wonderful people who have supported me over the last four years. The journey of grief would have been so much harder without you all in my life.

There are too many individual people to name, but you will know who you are. To the friends who arrived on our doorstep the day Rekiah died to show their love and support, to everyone who came to the funeral and to our church families who organised everything for the day, I thank you. I would also like to thank Bethel Funerals for ensuring that making arrangements for the funeral were as stress free as possible, and for looking after things on the day.

To the members of our church home group, thank you for being there for us from day one, for your support and for making sure we had enough food to last for months. To everyone who supported us through the court case, I say a really big thank you, particularly to those who were called to be witnesses, and those who travelled in to the court. To my friends who listened to me, cried with me and prayed with me, the time you spent with me was invaluable. And to my wider circle of Facebook friends, the support I had from hundreds of people, both new friends and old, was amazing, and really helped me get through each day. I would also like to acknowledge the support of the police investigators, prosecution team, and court staff throughout the court process.

To Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre and the various media outlets mentioned in this book, thank you for the opportunities you have given our family to have a voice. Also to Compassionate Friends and 89.9 Light FM radio station, thank you for the amazing work you do to benefit the community, and also for your support through the difficult times.

To all of Rekiah’s friends, thank you for being such loyal friends, and for helping keep Rekiah’s memory alive. She would be so proud of you all. Thank you particularly to Stacey and Bethany for your heartfelt contributions to this book.

Thank you to my extended family for all that you have done for us. To my children, Jesse and Indiana, I love you so much and am so grateful that you have come through such a dark time and can still look forward to your future. I am looking forward to the wonderful times we will have together. To my husband Struan, I could not have got through it without you. You are my rock. You loved me, held me, and helped me see light through the darkness.

Lastly, to Leigh Hay, who graciously gave her time to edit this book. Thanks Leigh, from the bottom of my heart. You not only edited the book, but gave me the encouragement and momentum to get it finished, and instilled the confidence in me that what I was writing would touch people’s lives.





CHAPTER 1: 11th October 2013

CHAPTER 1

11th October 2013

It started out just like every other Friday.

My favourite work day was Friday, because part of my schedule was to drive to a place called Strathewen to see two clients. My job as a Home Support Worker takes me to different places within the Nillumbik Shire in Melbourne, and my job involves cleaning houses and shopping for people who are elderly or disabled. Strathewen is a small town on the outskirts of Nillumbik, and one of the towns ravaged by the Black Saturday Bushfires in 2009, with many lives lost.

I drove ten minutes down the road to Plenty for my first job and all went as per normal. Because I then go back past my house on the way out to Strathewen, I called in to grab a coffee and pack some lunch. As I headed off again, I admired the beautiful countryside, as I always did when I drove this way. When I was about half way between Arthur’s Creek and Strathewen, I flicked the radio on to hear the midday news. A reporter’s voice stated, “A young woman has been found shot dead in a house in Meadowbank Drive Sunshine”. The street my daughter Rekiah’s ex-partner Nelson lived in! I immediately stopped the car and tried to ring Rekiah. No answer...it went straight to her message bank. I tried several times and then left a message pleading with her to ring me straight away. I consoled myself thinking that at least Meadowbank Drive was a long street, and being in Sunshine where there was a high crime rate, it could have been anyone.

I continued on to Strathewen, and after a bit of a chat with my client, went to begin my work cleaning the house. Before I started, I rang my husband Struan and told him what I had heard on the news. He said he would ring Crime Stoppers and try to find out some information. I continued on with my work until Struan rang back. He said Crime Stoppers were not able to give him any information yet, but he left his name and number with them. He then looked up the news report on the internet. Struan told me that he had found the report and a picture, but the picture taken of the police car outside the property where it happened did not look like Nelson’s place.

We left it at that, and I continued working again, but feeling sick to the stomach with worry. About half an hour later Struan rang back again, and that is when my life changed forever. He said he had looked at another video on the internet and there was a picture of the back of Nelson’s house that he recognised because it was where we had been on a previous occasion. My throat immediately went dry. I asked Struan to ring my supervisor at work and tell her I couldn’t do the next job and asked him to meet me back at home.

I don’t know how I managed, but I kept working for the next half an hour or so, going until I finished the job I was doing. My client didn’t even realise anything was wrong. I think I was still trying to convince myself that maybe the woman found was not Rekiah. As far as we knew she hadn’t been seeing Nelson for a while after his repeated abuse. I thought perhaps he had found someone else after Rekiah.

The half hour drive home from Strathewen that day was the longest I have ever known. My throat was so dry and I must have been running on auto pilot. As I was driving however, I turned my music from radio mode to CD, and the CD playing was one that I was listening to for the first time that had been sent to me on consignment, called “Your Grace Finds Me”, by Matt Redman. The words in the song “Your Grace Finds Me”, say that God is with us in times of sorrow, and when weeping by the graveside. This song played through, and then a song called “I Need You Now” came on, in which the chorus ends with “If I ever needed you, I need you now”. I just turned up the volume full bore and cried this out to God as I drove.

I know that this was the first sign that even through such a terrible tragedy, God would be with me. He put those words on the CD there for me to hear right at that time, because I needed to cry out to Him and feel His comfort, and I needed to be prepared for what was to come.

I arrived home just before Struan, and sat on a chair in the front room. I was in shock. Struan came home and sat opposite. We spoke a little and waited mostly in silence until the call came to Struan from a policeman. They were coming over to see us. It was at that point we knew for certain that Rekiah was gone, that Nelson had finally carried out his violence on Rekiah to the point of killing her. Then began the process of moving from denial into the journey that grief would take.

As we waited for the police to arrive, we went into organisational mode......how were we going to let everyone know? My son Jesse was over the other side of the city at his school teaching placement, and my youngest daughter Indiana was at school. I didn’t want to let any of the family know over the phone, however distance wise it was going to be impossible to physically drive to see everyone, nor did I have the emotional energy to do so.

We decided to wait until Indiana came home from school to tell her, although even this proved difficult, as she had planned to catch the bus straight to her boyfriend Drake’s house, so I had to send her a message telling her to come straight home, which she argued about. I then tried to ring Jesse to get him to drive over to our house, however when I rang his phone, another male voice answered, who said he was Jesse’s neighbour and that Jesse was too distressed to come to the phone. I told him it was Jesse’s mother and realised then, that he already knew. I didn’t count on the fact that the police had already contacted his biological father Craig, who had already rung poor Jesse while he was in the middle of helping run a class! Jesse got on the phone, and was so upset I could hardly understand him, but said he would come over as soon as he could.

We decided that the best way to tell my parents was to ring my brother Matthew and get him to tell them. My Dad was at work with Matthew, so I told him to drive Dad home so they could tell Mum together. We then tried to think of everyone else who should know. The message was passed around to people at our current and previous churches, and to all the family and friends we could think of.

And then Indiana came home. And that was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. How do you tell your 15yo daughter that her sister has just been murdered? It breaks my heart when I think back to her reaction..........one of complete shock, despair and loud sobbing. We just hugged each other for a long time.

Two policemen came, and wanted to verbally identify Rekiah, which they did by describing her looks and her tattoos. Again, this was another stage of knocking back that nagging denial that was still there. Nobody else would have tattoos like that. They then asked us to go through the history between Rekiah and Nelson, just to get an overview, and said that official statements would be taken from us at a later time. They asked if we could give them Rekiah’s Dentist’s details so they could get dental records if needed, as in these cases, it sometimes wasn’t wise to have someone identify the body, as they told us she had been shot through the temple. It had happened at around 9.00am that morning and Nelson was now in custody but was not speaking to the police.

After that, we had a stream of people come and go for the rest of the night. People from church came, and our good friends Carmel and Geoff brought us over some dinner they had picked up on the way. By that time Jesse and his girlfriend Skye had arrived. Normally I would love BBQ chicken, however that night my throat was so dry that any food would have stuck in it. My stomach was telling me I was hungry, but besides it not going down my throat, I didn’t even think it was right to eat. How could we be sitting down to a meal as normal, when my daughter was dead?





CHAPTER 2: The Good Life

CHAPTER 2

The Good Life

I was brought up in a Christian home in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. I was the first born child, and had three younger siblings, Michelle, Matthew and Christine (Chrissie). Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, life was carefree. It was a time where we could still play safely out in the street, walk or ride a bike to a friend’s house and walk to school by ourselves. We went to school, church and played sport, with netball being a passion for my Mum and me. This took up Saturday afternoons throughout my childhood and my teens, and I still played well into my forties. I loved sport of all kinds, and once remember skipping piano practice after school so I could stay at sports practice at school instead. That was the end of piano for me!

In my final year of high school I met a boy at youth group, who had come with a group of boys from another youth group to visit ours, after being told there was mainly girls in our group. A number of us paired up, and Craig and I became an item. In 1987 when we were both just 21 years old, we got married, setting up home in a unit in Oak Park for the first two years, and then moving to our house in Airport West in 1989, in preparation for establishing a home for our future family. I had been working for a few years for an insurance company in the city, but when my father bought a carpet overlocking factory near our home in Airport West, I decided to quit my job in the city and work for him. That way when I had my children I could have flexible hours and work close to home. I had never had any real career aspirations. I just wanted to get married and have children.

My first baby, my little girl, Rekiah Lee O’Donnell, was born on the 13th April 1991 at Essendon Hospital. She was gorgeous of course! Rekiah (Pronounced Ra-ky-ah), was a name chosen by Craig. The name came from a childhood memory of the name of his sister’s pet rabbit! There is a river in New Zealand called the Rakaia River, so if we wanted to tell people a nicer meaning of her name, that was it! Rekiah was stubborn about wanting to come out into the world. After my waters broke the day before and the contractions hadn’t begun by the next morning, I was put on a drip to encourage her to be born. I always said that my children carried their birth traits throughout their lives, and Rekiah’s stubbornness was certainly no exception.

Nineteen months after Rekiah was born, our son Jesse Ryan arrived. He was born within an hour of us arriving at the hospital, and he too has carried that trait through his life – always in a hurry! As I had chosen to work for my Dad and my hours were flexible, I could work to suit myself, and sometimes had the children there with me, and at other times my Mum would mind them. There was a room at the back of the factory, and while they were still babies, I could put them to sleep there if I needed to. Whereas Rekiah was happy being either breast or bottle fed, Jesse was my sooky baby and wouldn’t take a bottle, so Mum had to always bring him to me to feed him!

Throughout the younger years of our children’s lives, there was a good balance of work, play, holidays, spending time with family and being involved in church life. I juggled work and looking after the children and the home, and when Rekiah and Jesse were a little older, they spent one or two days in child care each week. Life was good. Craig was a great father and spent lots of time with the kids, and we did all the usual family things, taking them on outings such as the zoo or to the park, and holidays, some of which we spent with my parents at timeshare resorts. We went to church each week at Aberfeldie Baptist and the kids attended Sunday School. We looked forward to the yearly anniversaries at which they would perform and sing. We and the children made lifetime friends throughout the years we attended there.

During our time at Airport West we also became very good friends with our neighbours Sandra and Sam, who had two older children Tracey and David. They were at an age where they loved playing with our children and would often jump the back fence to come and play, particularly in the summer when they would bring their water guns. We had a small splash pool that the kids would play in. We also had countless numbers of barbeques at their house, where we would be spoiled by good food and fun with them and their extended families, particularly at family birthdays and New Year’s Eve parties. New Year’s Eve was especially something we and the kids would always look forward to.

Rekiah and Jesse’s personalities were the complete opposite. Whilst Rekiah was outgoing and bossy, Jesse was quiet and sensitive, and happy to follow along with whatever Rekiah was doing. They were both great kids, and although Rekiah was still young at four years old to start school, she was well and truly ready to go, both socially and academically. She made friends quickly and we have fond memories of the yearly birthday parties under the pergola and in the back yard. I remember Rekiah being friends with one little girl who was very shy and quiet, whom Rekiah took under her wing and always invited to her parties.

Although I was happy with my life and my children, I somehow felt our family wasn’t quite complete, and in September 1998, my last child, a daughter, Indiana Rose was born. Rekiah and Jesse were so happy to have a baby sister, and they were at a good age to play with her and help look after her. Rekiah was seven and Jesse five. Indiana took her time being born, and arrived at the lovely time of 3.00am in the morning – and she is never in a hurry to do anything! Her temperament has always been somewhere in between Jesse’s and Rekiah’s, so I had three children with very different personalities. I was still working in the family business, which I did up until 2006. Rekiah and Jesse were both doing great at school, and in the top percentage of their year levels. There were never any behavioural problems, and Rekiah was always popular both with her peers and her teachers. She was involved with school sports and dance productions, and outside of school, she played t-ball and netball. She basically breezed through her primary school years with no problems. Unfortunately this was all soon to change.





CHAPTER 3: A Mother’s Despair

CHAPTER 3

A Mother’s Despair

Rekiah began high school at Essendon Keilor College in 2003. Because she had no previous behavioural issues at school and had been good at her work, we were surprised to find that soon after entering high school, Rekiah began having problems. Home was no exception. The bossy behaviour that she had exhibited towards her siblings in her younger years, slowly began to deteriorate. Her behaviour became very anti-authoritarian. Rekiah had always excelled at English, but Maths was one subject where she lacked confidence. She didn’t see the point in doing Maths and so wouldn’t put in the effort to do well. This became the norm for everything in Rekiah’s life. If she didn’t see the point in doing something, then she would refuse to do it. This ended up getting her into a lot of trouble with her teachers. There came a point when I was grateful that I wasn’t working at the time, because I was having to spend so much time going up to the school because Rekiah was in trouble. This escalated to the point where, about to finish Year 10, she was not invited to finish her studies at the VCE campus, which was in a different location. She did end up completing Year 11, but at an alternative community school, which was specifically designed for kids who didn’t fit in to regular schools, mostly kids who had behavioural problems or who weren’t capable of completing regular school work.

At home Rekiah’s behaviour became more and more challenging. By the time she was in her mid-teens we found it very difficult to manage her behaviour. We tried to put boundaries in place, however she continued not only to push the boundaries, but would also refuse to comply with anything we tried to put into place. She was not willing to compromise on anything if she thought she was in the right. We lived in a small three bedroom house with two bungalows out the back. One of these bungalows was a games room/study and the other became Rekiah’s bedroom. Whilst she had her own television out in her room, she did not have access to her own computer for some of this time, and there was only one central computer in the lounge room, which was used by everyone in the family. The lounge room was right near our bedroom, so if she was using the computer when we went to bed, we could hear her typing and talking on her phone. We put what we thought were fair limits on Rekiah’s computer usage, asking her to finish up when we went to bed, however most of the time she was unwilling to comply. I remember one night asking her several times to finish up, and when she continually refused my requests, I turned off the power. This set her off into a rage, and she ended up at some stage getting hold of my car keys and hiding them so I wouldn’t be able to drive my car. There were also other times like this when she was vindictive. Although I don’t think she was ever physically violent to Jesse or Indiana, she would do things to purposely annoy them and most of the time they wouldn’t dare to try and defend themselves. If they did, they would be in for some verbal abuse.

There were countless amounts of times when we would try to reason with Rekiah about basic respect for us and the simple things we asked of her. However this would more often than not develop into an argument which would result in her voice being raised so much at times, that our neighbours could hear her! There were also times where she would be yelling and getting very close to my face. I knew I had to pick my battles and only brought up what seemed important, however nothing I seemed to do or say at the time seemed to suit her. On occasions I had to retreat to my bedroom to try and get away from her yelling, and I would close my bedroom door, but sometimes she would still burst in and follow me. I would sometimes go for a walk just to get out of the house away from her. She also caused damage to the house, kicking and breaking the glass in one of the front door panels and cracking the glass in one of the lounge room doors. Sometimes Craig was home and sometimes he wasn’t. When he was, it seemed to make things worse as he would try and back me up but it just made her angrier that he would “butt in”. There were several occasions when we had to call the police to get her to calm down. On one of these occasions she had been physical with Craig and pulled his hair (which was long), and wouldn’t let go, and on another occasion she kicked me in the leg and I had a massive bruise. One of these nights when the police were called, we also rang the Department of Human Services and had her removed and placed in someone’s home for the night.

As it was our first child to go through teenage years, we wondered what on earth we had gotten ourselves into, having kids. We realised after a while though, that this was not normal teenage behaviour. Yes, teenagers push the boundaries and don’t always obey or agree with their parents, but nothing like the extent to which Rekiah was exhibiting. I became interested in behavioural disorders, and came across something called “Oppositional Defiant Disorder”. I could tick nearly every one of the symptoms listed.... often loses temper, touchy or easily annoyed by others, angry and resentful, argues with adults or people in authority, actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules, deliberately annoys people, blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehaviour, and is spiteful or vindictive. This was exactly her! I decided it was time to take her to a psychologist and/or counsellors to try and find out what was going on.

We were referred to the Child Psychiatry Unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Rekiah’s assessment included blood tests and psychological tests. The RCH came to the conclusion that there was no conclusive evidence to actually diagnose her with anything, but stated that she presented with significant ADHD of combined type symptoms associated with a well-developed conduct disorder and severe oppositional defiant patterns of behaviour. They said that she might be pre-disposed to developing a formal dysthymic disorder and subsequent major depressive disorder if she had ongoing failure and low self-esteem experiences. The symptoms of this disorder are things like lack of energy/fatigue, insomnia, putting on or losing weight, being dependant on others and low self-esteem. It wasn’t until after her death that I re-visited this information and also attributed these behaviours to her in the last few years of her life, although I will never know if this was caused by a disorder such as this, her use of drugs (which we didn’t find out about until after her death), or both.

The psychologist suggested using a series of prescription drugs to try and help her moods, however gave no guarantees that this would work, nor did they guarantee a long term solution. Because Craig was against using drugs for fear that Rekiah would get hooked on them (quite ironic considering she used drugs later anyway), we did not go down that path. As we also ended up asking her to leave home around this time and got an intervention order because her outbursts had become physical, the report went by the wayside and it got put away. I only looked at it when I found it again a long time later.

From the time she was around 16 to 18 years old, Rekiah was in and out of home several times. Rekiah’s friend Stacey and her mum Linda, agreed to have Rekiah live at their house for a while. I will be forever grateful to them and their family for taking Rekiah in and looking after her during this time. This gave us some relief and I was able to concentrate on other things, such as giving the other two children a safe and stress-free environment. I could be at peace in my own home without having to feel like I was stepping on egg shells every time Rekiah was there.

One of the reasons we asked Rekiah to leave was because of the effect it was having on Indiana and Jesse. Jesse was at an age where he tried to help on occasions, but was probably still scared of Rekiah, and Indiana was still too young to really understand what was going on. Most of the time they would cower in their rooms, and I can imagine there were times that Indiana especially, would have been really scared. I felt like a failure as a parent, and at times I would also cower in my room. There were many times I would sit down next to my bed on the far side (we had my grandmother’s bed which was very high), and just cry. I felt like such a failure as a parent and would cry out to God and ask him what I had done to deserve this sort of behaviour from my child. I begged and pleaded with God to fix her behaviour or show us what needed to be done. Sometimes it was so bad that I didn’t want to be here on this earth anymore. It was just all too hard. I felt like running away and disappearing. I confessed to my friends that one day I drove to Brimbank Park and sat in the long grass and wished I would be bitten by a snake and die. That was how bad I felt! I was blessed throughout this time though, to have a number of good friends who helped keep me sane. I also realised that Jesse was totally different to Rekiah and he was getting through his teenage years fine, so it couldn’t be all to do with my parenting ability!

Unfortunately though, Craig and I were so pre-occupied with everything going on with Rekiah, it put a great strain on our marriage. Craig would often disappear and stay outside in the other bungalow and leave me to deal with things, and I would spend a lot of time on the computer (when Rekiah wasn’t using it), talking to friends online and trying to escape from reality. I didn’t realise how much it had strained our marriage until it was too late to save that as well.





CHAPTER 4: Divorce

CHAPTER 4

Divorce

After our dealings with DHS and the police, I had decided that the system was so bad, I should somehow help to change it! Little did I know at the time that I would end up fighting for a slightly different cause! I felt there was some sort of system in place to help abused children, but nothing to help abused parents. I was told that if Rekiah was placed in a group home by DHS, that it was likely she would either be abused whilst there or come out with worse behaviour than before, as she would be influenced by kids worse than her!

I had previously studied psychology by correspondence to try and gain some understanding of Rekiah’s behaviour, but at the beginning of 2007, I decided to take a new course of action in terms of something that could lead to a career. I enrolled to do Certificate III in Community Services at Victoria University. I was very nervous about going back to study after twenty-four years, but found that my maturity actually helped, and I really enjoyed the challenge. This was a part time course, so the work load was not too much. As it neared the end of the one year course, we had the opportunity to enrol in a further course in different fields. I decided that I would like to continue on and do the Diploma of Welfare, so enrolled to begin this course in 2008, to be completed over two years. One of my major fields of study would be domestic violence. This course was full time, but in actual fact I was only at school two to three days a week, plus work placements. Financially we were coping quite well, as we were very close to paying off our house, so I could afford to stay on and continue my studies.


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