MUM'S PAIN: Rapist dad helps raise child born of sex attack
WHEN Tamara looks into the blue-grey eyes of her little girl, she is reminded of the "monster" who fathered the sweet-natured youngster.
The 39-year-old loves her daughter immensely but sometimes she struggles to get past the fact the child was conceived through rape.
"She has his eyes," Tamara said, revealing she is "powerless" to remove the little girl's father from their life.
"She has my hair, features and skin tone."
Forced into pregnancy, Tamara is a victim of "reproductive coercion".
"The rape meant I didn't have a choice about being pregnant but when I found out I was having a baby, I never thought of terminating her," she said.
Experts say sexual violence and reproductive coercion are common in abusive relationships.
Queensland Police data shows there were 29,093 rapes and other sexual assaults across the state from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2017.
Children by Choice says 1350 out of 10,000 contacts with the Queensland-based not-for-profit support service over the past three years involved women whose reproduction was controlled by someone else.
Abusers do this in a number of ways including preventing victims from taking contraceptives; raping them; sabotaging condoms or removing them during sex; and preventing women from having abortions or taking the morning after pill.
There is no legislation in Australia that makes reproductive coercion a crime, a situation that Children by Choice Screening to Safety project officer Liz Price would like changed.
"The enduring nature of control stemming from a forced pregnancy is so far-reaching that it warrants particular attention," Ms Price said.
Women's legal Service Queensland CEO Angela Lynch said making reproductive coercion a crime would be difficult.
"Similarly to many coercive behaviours it can be a very subtle and/or difficult to prove or obtain evidence beyond reasonable doubt," Ms Lynch said.
"Understanding may be assisted by including an example of this form of coercion in DV protection legislation.
"The existence of reproductive coercion, as an element of family violence, is one of the many factors a court can take into account in determining arrangements for children."
Kind partner became a monster
AS with most abusive people, the man Tamara fell in love with was kind, gentle and charming but as the relationship progressed his true personality started to show.
"I never knew he was a monster until he moved into my home," Tamara tells NewsRegional.
Not long after they started living together he came home from a night "drinking with the boys" and raped her.
The man refused to wear a condom during the attack.
Tamara found out she was pregnant on her 33rd birthday.
"I was excited but scared when I realised she was conceived through that horrible night," the mum said.
"Then as time went on I grew to really love the little baby growing in my tummy.
"I knew this baby was going to be special."
Tamara said she spent the entire pregnancy doing her best to keep her baby safe from the man's violence.
"The abuse didn't stop because I was pregnant - it was constant," she said.
Keeping her little girl safe
TAMARA, who endured many years of violence at the hands of her partner, said raising a child conceived through rape was often hard emotionally
But she was determined to only show her six-year-old daughter love.
"I will never tell my baby girl because I don't want hate to enter her pure heart and destroy the memories she has and will have of herself and her parents," Tamara said.
"She is so full of love and happiness and has the purest heart.
"We have a very strong bond and an amazing relationship."
Tamara's former partner was not charged with rape but was convicted of assaulting her and was jailed.
He has since been released and is on a domestic violence order but despite his past, the man has unsupervised access with the child.
This causes Tamara deep distress but there is little she can do about it as her low wage means she cannot afford to continue pursuing family court action.
"I will protect her with my life," she said.
The Queensland Government is not adding reproductive coercion to the criminal code, with a spokeswoman saying it was a "serious issue" covered by other offences including rape.
"The Not Now, Not Ever report did recognise increased risks during pregnancy and there are a range of recommendations being implemented that relate to improving health responses for victims of domestic violence, including resources helping health practitioners recognise domestic violence cases; and improved antenatal screening for DV and training for midwives," the spokeswoman said.
Tamara's name has been changed to protect her and her children. - NewsRegional
- NewsRegional supports the Queensland Government's #dosomething campaign, which urges Queenslanders to phone police if they know someone is experiencing domestic and family violence.- NewsRegional
For 24-hour support in Queensland phone DVConnect on 1800 811 811, in NSW phone Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463 or for Australia-wide support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636. Children by Choice's website is www.childrenbychoice.org.au