Warning: Distressing content
Australian man Jon Seccull seemed like a devoted father and husband. He campaigned for organ donation and was an ambassador for a domestic violence network.
But behind closed doors, he subjected his wife to brutal and sadistic rapes. For four and a half years he humiliated, degraded and abused her.
He was finally jailed for 15 years after he was found guilty of nine counts of rape, two of common assault and threatening to inflict serious injury following a trial in the County Court of Victoria on Monday.
The 43-year-old former corrections worker can be identified after his former wife granted NCA NewsWire permission to publish his name, though it would also identify her.
"Make no mistake, the road to this point has been an extremely challenging one but it has been worth every painful and humiliating step," Michelle Skewes said in a statement after the sentence was handed down.
"I remain dumbfounded by how much acutely personal and embarrassing information I had to present, confirm and reconfirm before the court would accept it as evidence."
But the bottom line was a "very dangerous individual" has been eliminated as a threat to society, if only temporarily, she wrote.
In a harrowing statement shared at a pre-sentence hearing, Skewes said she struggled daily not to curl in a ball and sob as a result of the abuse.
She struggled to explain the impact her ex-husband's ongoing, persistent abuse, rape, coercion and violence had had on her.
"I have lost friends because of the isolation, the abuse, the stories that have emerged since I left and since I dared break the code of silence that enshrouds domestic violence. Faced the wrath of outing the abuser, besmirching the 'good bloke'," Skewes said.
The judge said her statement to the court was insightful and eloquent, and completely rejected a submission from her ex-husband's lawyer to the jury she was "hateful, smug, demonic and a pathological liar" in his closing address.
She was not only forced to endure "brutish" and "sadistic" rapes but was pressured to have sex with other men.
"The offending leaves the court bereft of adequate words to describe its depravity," Judge Frank Gucciardo said.
Skewes was forced to endure humiliation, degradation and cruelty through each of the rapes, he said.
"These were not spontaneous incidents, they were brooded upon and thought about and were long-held fantasies and cruel desires," Judge Gucciardo said.
The acts were a "perversion" of marriage vows and Seccull "gutted" the relationship of aspects of trust, protection, affection and love.
The judge said Seccull continued to deny his offending and had not shown any remorse for his crimes.
His former wife urged people to put aside their "stereotypical and long-held assumptions" of what behaviour counts as abuse.
"Accept that emotional abuse and coercion – simply being repeatedly forced to do things against your will – is as inappropriate and unacceptable as a punch and, invariably, a sign of worse things to come."
Seccull must spend 10 years and six months behind bars before he is eligible for parole and will be a registered sex offender for life.
Michelle Skewes tells her own story here.
How to get help
If you're in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours or friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people. Scream for help so your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you. Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay.
Where to go for help or more information:
• Women's Refuge: Crisis line - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 (available 24/7)
• Shine: Helpline - 0508 744 633 (available 24/7)
• It's Not Ok: Family violence information line - 0800 456 450
• Shakti: Specialist services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and children. Crisis line - 0800 742 584 (available 24/7)
• Ministry of Justice: For information on family violence
• Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga: National Network of Family Violence Services
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women
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