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Jeni Haynes was sexually abused from the age of 4. Her father has been sentenced to 45 years.

A 74-year-old man who raped and sexually abused his daughter in Sydney so horrendously she developed thousands of identities to cope will likely die in jail after being sentenced to at least 33 years behind bars.

Richard Haynes, whose attempt to retract his mid-trial guilty pleas was rejected, was sentenced in the NSW District Court on Friday for abusing his daughter, Jeni, from 1974 to 1981.

Judge Sarah Huggett sentenced him to 45 years with a non-parole period of 33 years, meaning Haynes can’t be released until he is 104. He showed no emotion as he was sentenced.

Jeni has been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder and has about 2500 personalities.

“A large number of the offences included significant gratuitous cruelty,” Judge Huggett said on Friday.

Haynes was sentenced for 25 offences related to his rape and molestation of his daughter, beginning the year the family moved to Australia and ending when they moved back to England.

Though his attacks often caused Jeni to bleed, urinate and cry, he continued and told her she deserved it and liked the abuse.

“This hurts me more than it hurts you,” he told her on one occasion.

“Mummy doesn’t want you and if you tell her, she will die and it will be your fault,” he said another time.

Jeni has a permanent colostomy bag, which she has described as a “degrading, daily reminder” of her father’s crimes, and unending problems with eyesight, hearing, dentistry and mental health.

While she was giving evidence at his trial in February, her father forced an adjournment and struck a plea deal.

But weeks after pleading guilty to 25 offences, including rape and buggery, he applied to return to his not-guilty pleas. Judge Huggett said the court could not entertain that request.

The judge said no sentence could possibly measure up to the “depraved and abhorrent” offending that Haynes was yet to explain.

Describing the child abuse among the worst to come before the court, Judge Huggett noted the physical harm was often accompanied with “significant gratuitous cruelty”, including extreme psychological manipulation.

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“Given the brutality and violence meted out, it is unsurprising that Jennifer believed what her father said … and many years passed before she found the courage to report (it).”

In response, Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, President of the Blue Knot Foundation, has offered the following comment:

“The conviction of Jeni Haynes’ father and now sentencing has been a landmark case involving extreme violent, sadistic sexual abuse perpetrated between the ages of 4 and 11.

This abuse was perpetrated on a young child by her father – a person who should have nurtured, cared and protected her. Instead he repeatedly violated, tortured and demeaned her, reaping untold physical, psychological and emotional harm. It left her unable to have children, hold down a job and struggling with chronic severe health problems.

Remarkably, Jeni Haynes survived. The process of dissociation – a defence mechanism enabled her to survive this unbearable and unspeakable trauma. In normal development with ‘good enough’ caregivers, our bodies, minds and emotions learn to work together, and links are made between different parts of ourselves.

When a child is so severely abused, this does not happen and the different parts of her developing sense of self are separate. In Jeni’s case she developed Dissociative Identity Disorder and multiple separate parts.

What is unique is that Jeni and her parts extremely courageously faced her father in court… and their testimony was not only believed but elicited a guilty plea from her father and subsequently a conviction.

Instead of Jeni’s DID being treated with scepticism and dismissed as fantasy as frequently has happened over the years, it was understood. She was listened to, heard and believed.

Jeni is an inspiration. She has changed the way our society understands DID and the true horrors it embodies. Our legal system has responded with an informed comprehension of the devastating impacts of child sexual abuse.”

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

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