'I would practice stabbing him': Kobe Bennett, 12, reveals life of torture

By Vanessa Brown

Kobe Bennett was physically abused by his father, and has now written a book about his experience. Photo / Supplied
Kobe Bennett was physically abused by his father, and has now written a book about his experience. Photo / Supplied

Kobe Bennett knows what it's like to live in fear of abuse and violence every single day.

Since he was a toddler, he has been subjected to vicious assaults, verbal abuse and fearing for his life on a daily basis at the hands of his violent father.

"He hit me and my siblings, and made me feel like crap," the 12-year-old Tasmanian told news.com.au.

"He yelled at me and bashed me. I remember it, but I just don't like to tell people."

When Kobe was just three, his father picked him up and threw him across the room until a wall broke his fall.

In a desperate bid to protect himself, Kobe would practise self defence by stabbing a teddy bear "with a very sharp knife" in case he needed to fight off his father, or so that he could protect his mother, Maree.

"To be honest, I thought about stabbing him and I used to practise," Kobe said.

"When my dad hurt my mum, my heart felt like popping. If you don't tell someone and get rid of your dad when he hurts your mum, your mum will be in a coffin and your dad will be off hurting someone else."

Kobe, who is the youngest of four brothers, knew that he wasn't the only boy who could be witnessing and enduring beatings and abuse at home.

But he knew what it was like not to have a voice or a say against adults. And so, he wrote the book The Only House in the Desert which shares his perspective of family violence.

"Family violence is different in everyone else's world," he reads in the audio book, which is available for download.

"It's like Alice in Wonderland only it's like a desert and your house is the only one left in the middle of it.

"Family violence messed me up. I didn't know what was right or wrong. He messed up my brother, now he needs to learn right from wrong."

Kobe said he wrote the book, which resulted in him receiving a Human Rights of Tasmania award earlier this month, because he wanted kids in a similar situation to him to have a voice.

"I wrote this book because I wanted to help other kids like me," the now 12-year-old says in the book.

"When you're little, you are stuck and you can't go anywhere by yourself.

"Family violence houses are like prisons for little kids. Adults need to listen up and stop doing family violence they need to go and get some help."

Kobe, who will be starting high school in 2017, was given the award for taking action to ensure the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights.

"The contribution he is making to the rights of children to be safe and to thrive, and for sharing his experiences of the impact of family violence in a very personal way that paves the way for other children in our community to be heard and respected," the citation from A Fairer World read.

Kobe's audiobook, which he wrote when he was just 10, goes into explicit detail of the fear he had of his abusive father, and how other kids in a similar position should go about protecting themselves.

"I never felt safe when he picked me up from school. I always walked behind him, because you need to watch what he's doing," he wrote.

"When my dad got angry, he turned into someone else. I didn't worry about him killing me because I knew mum would stop him.

"Never give your dad a weapon, even if he says pass me the butter knife to make a sandwich, don't give it to him."

Kobe, who has three older brothers and lives with his mum in the Bridgewater region of Tasmania, also gave advice to women who felt like they had to stay in an abusive relationship.

"When your husband does family violence, don't let him drink at home around the kids," Kobe said.

"Send him to a mate's place until he gets over it. Alcohol makes family violence worse."

Mrs Bennett, who said her ex-husband would threaten both her and the children with death by "burning the house down", left Kobe's father the day he threw him across the room.

"He would use our kids to control me," Mrs Bennett told news.com.au.

"He would hurt the kids if I didn't do what he wanted. He was a master at mental abuse. He would throw Kobe across the room, and then kick him.

"He would threaten me and my sons tell us he would burn us to death while we slept. He said he would kill us and the police wouldn't be there in time to save us.

"Taking the abuse myself was keeping my kids safe, but when he tore Kobe we left and never came back."

Mrs Bennett, who grew up in an abusive home when she was a child, said that the abuse was all about control.

"I know how damaged I was from my childhood abuse, so I didn't want that for Kobe," she said.

"Kobe remembers a lot, because when we left his dad, he was still abusive for a long time after that which Kobe remembers.

"Kobe thought it was his job to save me."

Kobe hopes that his book will be read by kids in a similar position that he was once in, and not to be afraid to seek help.

"If he says he is going to check on mum after he argues with her, go with him or call the cops don't wait because he doesn't want to play games with her," he said.

"If police don't trust you, put up cameras. We all know how this goes. If you say your dad bashes your mum he will come out and say he didn't and that she just fell.

"The cops will say why did she scream and he will say she just saw a spider or something before she fell.

"Get the police to check the house in case he tries to hide the bashing weapon. You've got to say he's hurting your mum and they need to do something to stop it before he finishes the job.

"When you live in family violence and they move out, you can start to get over it. When you get rid of your dad, ask your mum to get you a therapist. You don't have to stay feeling bad.

"You have a choice you can either live in family violence forever or leave and get the change to be happy."

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay.

Where to go for help or more information:

The Harbour, for those affected by harmful sexual behaviour
Help Auckland 24/7 helpline 09 623 1700
Wellington Help 24/7 crisisline 04 801 6655, push 0
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz

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- news.com.au

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