An Illawarra teenager sexually abused by her father when she was nine years old sat metres from him yesterday as she described to a courtroom how his actions had left her hollow inside.
The teen, who along with her father cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted to twice trying to take her own life, suffering from bulimia and self-harming nearly every day for six years as a result of the incident, which occurred sometime in 2004.
The man, aged 44 at the time of the assault but now aged 53, pleaded guilty to a single charge of having sexual intercourse with a child under 10 after confessing to assaulting his daughter while she was sitting on his knee one day.
The court heard the man had previously been convicted of indecently assaulting two other children – his niece and the daughter of neighbours – in 2006.
He received a jail sentence of two years and three months, with a non-parole period of one year and three months for the assaults, which took place in 2003 and 2005.
Yesterday the man was ordered to spend a minimum of two years and six months behind bars, with an overall prison sentence of five years.
The man’s daughter, now 18, broke down in tears as Judge Andrew Haesler read out the sentence.
She had earlier told the court her father’s actions that day had sent her on an emotional roller-coaster that had left her suffering depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
‘‘I looked in the mirror and felt ugly, disgusted and ashamed by what I saw,’’ she said, adding her sense of self-worth hit rock bottom after the assault.
‘‘I never thought I could amount to anything.
‘‘I lost friendships and pushed away family, I had no control over anything.
‘‘Some days I could barely look at myself.’’
The teenager admitted to abusing drugs and alcohol in a bid to block out her pain and said at times ‘‘I didn’t know who I was’’.
However, the teen also said she considered herself a survivor, and had successfully completed year 12 this year, only three years after ‘‘wishing my life was over’’.
‘‘You can no longer take my dreams away from me,’’ she said defiantly.
‘‘I’m no longer your victim, I’m now my own survivor.’’
The man sat silently and showed no emotion while his daughter delivered her statement to the court, nor did he react when the sentence was read out.
The court heard the man no longer had contact with his daughter and had split from the girl’s mother several years earlier but that he had a new partner who was aware of his history and fully supported him.
The man will be eligible for release on parole in June 2016.