I’m sitting here with “Bill”, who wants to tell his story, a story of violent attacks from “Jane” that took place over a 5+ year period before any real action was taken to protect him.Obviously names have been changed for legal reasons, but events described here are as accurate and as factual as memory will allow.
He’s not “well off” as most of us would consider it, certainly not rich. He does okay for himself all things considered, however Bill is a pensioner, unable to do most types of work available to him. He lives on an allowance that barely covers his rent and food, only having a small amount left for him to spend on entertainments that dont leave him stuck in front of a TV all day every day. He does “odd jobs” for a bit of extra pocket money, so he can afford a couple of hours at the pub getting some of that much needed social interaction that prevents us all from going insane.
Bill, like most Aussies, likes a drink. So does Jane. This is how they met.
They were first introduced to each other in passing, a chance meeting at Janes cousins house.
A little later they ran into each other at a pub, got along fine and one thing lead to another.
A casual relationship evolved. Jane would come around to Bills house for some company and a drink, they slept together and had a great time, they would live their own lives the rest of the time.
Eventually she asked to bring some personal things over, clothing and the like. Jane had been sharing a house with her relatives and didn’t own much property, Bill realised later that this was all of her possessions, and he had been quietly “moved in with”.
She never offered to contribute anything to the household expenses. She was happy to drink Bills drinks and eat Bills food, but this extra cost eventually started to become too much and Bill asked Jane to contribute financially. She agreed to pay an amount for board. She started treating Bill as a retreat point too, calling him to be picked up, or having money for her taxi ready as she retreated from problems within her own family, arguments there and the like.
These seemingly small issues lead to tension, mainly coming from her close family, who appeared to be jealous, harassing her with questions like “why are you paying him money” not understanding the costs she imposed on Bill just as a matter of arrangement. The tension between her and her family sometimes leads to tension between Bill and Jane which built up into arguments, and sometimes it was her jealousy of other women that Bill talked to in passing in the course of daily life.
The violence began with a visit from Jane and her friend coming over to Bills for a drink. They all talked and socialised long into the night.
The next morning Jane was visibly angry, jealous of the dynamics that had transpired the night before, considering that Bill had given too much attention to Janes friend and not Jane herself. After a short verbal confrontation Jane walked out of the house, she came straight back, armed with a broken brick. She thrust it into his face, luckily doing minimal damage. Bill had seen it coming and stepped back, the jagged edge of the brick only scratching his nose and not hitting with full force, Bill pushed her back pout the door, putting his weight on the door so he could get it closed and lock it. She continued striking the door with the brick, with such force that she broke the handle off from the outside. The brick then came flying in through the window. Glass and brick narrowly missing Bill as he called the police.
She was still outside screaming abuse when the police arrived. The police recognised Jane from other encounters, and they did take her away that day (Bill suspects they issued a “24 hour move-on notice” to her) and they asked Bill if he wanted to press charges. Given that the scratch was only slight, he declined to press assault charges, knowing she would already be facing property damage charges. Anyway, It wasn’t that big of a deal, right? Just a scratch. He would get his window fixed and get a restraining order against her returning.
She was charged via summons, she went to court, a $400 fine for property damage was issued.
There’s a major problem with the fines enforcement system in Australia.. and that is, if you don’t have a drivers license, and you choose not to pay your fine, then you have experienced zero penalty. The only thing the Fines Enforcement Registry will do to recover fines, is suspend your drivers license until you pay.
Jane didn’t have a drivers license, nor car, so there was zero incentive for her to pay the fine. She effectively experienced no consequences for her actions other than a lift home from the police.
The window was fixed. The restraining order was issued. The threats continued.
During this period of the first restraining order, phone calls from Jane were regular, usually consisting of something along the lines of “can i come over and we’ll talk? no? ILL GET MY FAMILY TO BASH YOU!” and it wasn’t just phone calls. Visits to the door happened also, with the conversation going along the same lines. Then there were the run-ins in public places. Just walking to the train station was an ordeal, Jane was obviously staying somewhere close-by and Bill regularly encountered her as he went about his life.
Then there was the property damage.
3 times during this period was Bills house attacked. She was caught 3 times (by this point she was well known to the local police for various disturbances in the neighbourhood) by the police with each case resulting in her going to court. Each case of property damage was also a case of breaching the restraining order. Each time she went to court, the penalty was a $400 fine for property damage. Bill didn’t have the money for a civil court case, so he had to sort out the window and door repairs between him and his landlord.
Twice Bill was awoken in the middle of the night, typically around 3am, by a brick through the window.
Sleeping well would be difficult for anyone in these circumstances.
The third time, Jane had called Bill and threatened to come around and do it again, so Bill called the cops before she got there.
A single police officer arrived this time, and he invited Bill to sit in the cop car with him and watch over the property and to point out Jane to him as she arrived.
A short time later Bill got a call from his neighbour who told him Jane was already on the property, screaming at the house and making smashing noises.
Bill asked the cop to come with him to check around the back of the property, the cop refused and just said “she wont do anything, we can’t act until we see her do something”. He ignored the neighbours call because the neighbour had called Bill, not the police directly.
Eventually the neighbour called back to tell Bill that Jane had left the property.
The cop decided he had enough waiting, and that it was safe for Bill to return home if he wished, the cop let Bill out and drove off.
Bill went back to his home to discover the rear windows had been smashed. Obviously he had to call the cops back out again to report the property damage.
The restraining order was due for renewal. there had been many more incidences, smaller confrontations at the door, sometimes Bill would tell her to get lost, resulting in a restless nights sleep or a torrent of abuse, sometimes it was all too much hassle, sometimes he would rather give her some money for a cab and send her on her way. Some money in her hand always made her happier, happy enough to leave anyway.
During the period of the second restraining order (a restraining order expires after 2 years by default) nothing much changed, if anything, it got worse.
One evening Jane arrived on Bills doorstep with the usual “let me in and we can talk” line, with a bloodied and bandaged hand. It looked like she had been punching someone or something, probably a drunken scuffle. Bill turned her away, not being in the mood for it that night.
Two weeks later the officers from the CIB (Criminal Investigation Bureau) came to his door to question him in relation to assault charges. Jane had told an ambulance paramedic that “Bill had done it to her”, and the paramedic had passed on that information to police.
Bill got statements from his neighbours who knew about the ongoing history of violent attacks on her part, he called his lawyer and prepared for court.
On the day of the case, the court prosecutor informed Bill that the charges were being dropped as it was obviously a fabrication. Charges were just dropped like that, no follow up done in regards to wasting police time etc.
More incidences of property damage happened, more breaches of the restraining order ensued.
Whenever the restraining order was broken, a simple “move on notice” was issued to her, meaning she would be arrested if she returned to the property within 24 hours.
Whenever she damaged property, another $400 fine was issued, which of course she has no incentive to pay. Who needs a license when you have no car and no job to get to.
Of course Bill attended her court cases as the plaintiff each time. He was getting fed up with fines being issued that were not only never going to be paid, but also left her with no real consequences for her actions. He was hoping for a custodial sentence, or more realistically a suspended sentence (which is kind of like a good behaviour bond, if you breach again there will be imprisonment) but this was not forthcoming. no one was considering him as a victim on the situation, only the financial aspect of property damage was being considered. When he mentioned this he was directed by both a police officer and the magistrate that the best course of action would be to prepare a Victim Impact Statement.
The doors to the office of the Victim Support Service are like a vault. You can’t just walk up to reception, you have to be buzzed in. He pressed the buzzer and the door was opened for Bill but he wasn’t let in directly, and was ushered away from the waiting area where other victims of violence were waiting (predictably, these were all women in the waiting area) to a disparate room in the back, he was questioned briefly, he remembers this brief conversation very clearly. it went like this “what do you want”
“im here to make an impact statement”
“oh, who told you to come here”
“the police and the magistrate”
“oh, well, there’s nothing we can do for you, we can’t help you”
Bill left feeling dejected and alone, he didn’t get to make a witness impact statement that day. He went home and did what most men will do when facing defeat, he had a beer.
Time passed, he ran into her on the street, they argued over events that had happened and Bill moved along.
Same thing again, a week or so later the CIB interview Bill about him allegedly “bashing” Jane at his house. Bill informed them of the situation, the restraining order, and that she had not been at his house that day and the event had happened on the street and had been Jane who initiated it and did the harassment.
Once again, no charges laid, luckily there was a history in the police computers to help verify Bills story.
It was time to stop this. 4 years had passed since this began. No one else wanted to help, but Bill wanted to help himself. Bill moved house. He knew quiet for a short time.. a very short time. Someone else who knew both Jane and Bill found out where he had moved to and informed her of the address.
She came around once or twice, both times Bill firmly told her she wasn’t welcome and unless she wanted the police around again, she should “fuck off”.The third time harassing him at this property she chose not to listen, the abuse started in earnest. All the neighbours could hear her screaming out the front of his place, Bill phoned the police, she started smashing windows. by the time the police arrived, 40 minutes later, two front windows and the bathroom window had been smashed and the front screen door had been completely mangled.
The police arrived and restrained her. One female officer took Bill aside and mentioned said, “you know, she’s only going to get a fine for this”. The question was put to him in a way that suggested to Bill that it really meant “stop wasting our time” or “can’t you deal with this yourself?” and that he should just stop reporting it. He told her about the history, and the restraining order. The policewoman told him that there was no restraining order, this was simply a property damage case. The restraining order had expired again without Bill noticing.
Bill went again to the courthouse to get the restraining order renewed, and while he was there waiting he saw an office titled “Family Violence Unit”. Even though this was not a family issue as such, Bill clutched at the straw. and, surprisingly, he was rewarded. It just so happened that the lady behind the counter that day was understanding of Bill case. She read through the court and police histories, looked up at Bill and told him those words he had hoped to hear from someone for a very long time, “You know, this is very serious Bill”. A weight was lifted from his chest, someone acknowledged him as a victim of crime, not just someone who had a broken window.
He was added onto the local councils Stay Safe program, his address added to the ranger patrols, to check at risk properties on their rounds for any signs of danger, damage, loiterers etc.
The lady was able to prepare the documentation to get Bill into the Victims Support Service which had rejected him so callously the first time. She was astounded that Jane was getting away again and again with only fines.
Later that very day a very apologetic lady from the Victim Support Service called him and invited him to make a Victim Impact Statement the very next day as another of Janes court cases were coming up.
Even with a Victim Impact Statement in the judges lap, and 6 prior convictions of property damage and several non-charged restraining order breaches, she was issued a $400 fine.
Bill was notified when the 3rd Restraining Order was served on Jane, at the time Bill was booked in to see the local Family Violence Unit office. Things looked to be improving, but the violence continued
Within 7 days of the restraining order being served, she breached it again, phoning Bill at 2:30am and threatening to have him bashed. Bill called the police who asked him to make a telephone statement, which they would drop off for signing first thing in the morning to present at her latest court case that day. Again, she was issued a $400 fine and released.
7 days later, she turned up at his door again and proceeded to smashed every last window on the house. When the police arrived and approached her, she had a sharpened wooden stake which she was trying to stab Bill with through the screen door as he tried to keep her from reaching in and unlocking it. The police caught her in the act of violence against Bill. Along with the property damages, the nigh-impossible to obtain Victim Impact Statement, the support of the Family Violence Unit, and first hand witness reports from the police officers, and the prosecutor who was this time pushing for a custodial sentence, the judge had very little option other than to lock her up.
For her 6 odd years of terrorising Bill, she finally got 4-7 months imprisonment. 8 months for breaching the restraining order, minus one month for a guilty plea, plus access to parole because it’s a sentence of more than 6 months.
She never got parole. That requires good behaviour on the inside. Jane doesn’t tend to behave good. Jane is a woman who always attacked with a weapon, whether that be the beer in her hand, a rock or brick form the ground, or a stick (even a deliberately sharpened one). There are numerous places she is banned from because of violent behaviour, pubs, shops, centrelink, etc.
Even since her release she has tried contacting Bill again, a friend of a friend sending messages via Facebook, he notified the police who “gave her a very stern warning” although there was nothing they could do about a 3rd party contact attempt.
All in all the situation seems to have been resolved.
But why did it have to take 6 years of terror and fear?