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Royal commission told woman with disability ‘treated like a dog’

According to new figures, 48 per cent of women with disability will experience physical violence.

According to new figures, 48 per cent of women with disability will experience physical violence. Photo: AAP

A woman with cerebral palsy has told a royal commission she was raped and treated “like a dog” by a paid personal assistant, who she says beat her after she returned a positive pregnancy test.

The woman, known by the pseudonym Chloe, said the man, who began caring for her in 2016, threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the abuse.

Chloe, who uses a wheelchair, said the man beat her from “head to foot” and kicked her in the belly “over and over again”, killing the unborn child and almost killing her.

“He had his bad face for me and his good face for everyone else,” she said in a statement read by Counsel Assisting the Disability Royal Commission, Kate Eastman SC, at hearings on Monday in Hobart.

“He treated me like a dog. There were so many rapes and physical assaults. It was awful.

“I tried to fight back by scratching him, so he would cut my nails.”

The commission was told the man was charged with multiple counts of rape, grievous bodily harm, torture and assault and was found not guilty at trial.

“(The jury) saw me as disabled and a liar. (They) think you are making this all up and telling lies,” Chloe said.

“I can’t trust anyone any more. It’s been about six years of hell. I’m scared to be in my own house.”

She said the man once threw her dinner on the ground and told her to eat it off the floor after she flung a mug at his head. Chloe said she was raped after refusing to eat the food.

Chloe said the man used her bank card “all the time” to buy things for himself and used her phone, taking it home with him so she couldn’t call anyone.

“He kept me from seeing friends and family. He would charm everyone,” she said.

“He threatened to kill me if I told anyone what had happened. And I thought I was going to die.”

The man tortured Chloe’s dogs to punish her, the commission was told, after initially charming her and telling her she was his “princess”.

The royal commission, which will this week hear from survivors of abuse, has been told almost half of all women with a disability will experience physical violence during their lives.

According to the figures, 48 per cent will experience physical violence – higher than the rate for women without disability, at 27 per cent.

Two in five women with disability have also experienced emotionally abusive, harassing and controlling behaviours from current or former partners.

Disability advocate Nicole Lee survived 10 years of sexual, emotional and financial abuse committed by her ex-husband, who was also her carer.

Ms Lee said her husband, who the commission was told was jailed for several years, used the police against her, calling them himself and positioning her as the “crazy wife”.

She believes women with a disability aren’t given enough support or education about their rights.

“For a lot of us we have had disempowering experiences across the course of our lifetime,” she said.

“Other people are making decisions and we don’t think that we are allowed to make decisions for ourselves.

“So we stop speaking up. We stop asking questions and we stop, you know, reaching for help.”

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Lifeline 13 11 14

-AAP

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