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Australia: Incest victim turned lawyer speaks out on reporting violence and sexual abuse

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After enduring years of secrecy and betrayal, Shelly Rose Braieoux finally dug deep within herself and picked up the phone.

Key points:

  • Shelly Braieoux said Jehovah's Witnesses elders failed to face up to her abuse allegations
  • She said she felt like God would strike her down when she cut ties with the church
  • Her initial experiences with police and the legal system prompted her to study law

Having grown up with parents who were strict Jehovah's Witnesses, she remembers being taught to fear outsiders.

Making a report to the police, an elder told her, would "bring reproach" upon Jehovah's name.

But she had something to say.

Her father — a man who had forced her to carefully write out scriptures on a poster, and had forbidden her from wearing two bangles on her wrist — had inflicted violence and sexual abuse at home in the past.

In the period after she cut ties with the church, Ms Braieoux said she felt like God was going to strike her down at any moment.

But a voice on the other end of the line, that of Detective Senior Constable Natalie Bennett, offered her some genuine compassion.

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