My hands were shaking, my pants long forgotten on my bedroom floor. The bright laptop screen stung my eyes, sentences on it stopping and starting. I felt like I was having a heart attack. I couldn’t breathe. It was too hot. My eyes were burning.
Why am I crying?
My phone was sitting next to me. The video played on loop, sending me into more panic. The screaming, both from the phone and outside my bedroom, was deafening.
I’m gonna throw up.
11th March 2022, 5:00pm
Mum (Tracey) showed me and Conrad (stepfather) a Facebook post of our cows out on the road. Mum called Kevin (neighbour) to help us retrieve them. Conrad and I went down to the road and began looking for the cows. We couldn’t see them, but we did see John and Ceciley (grandparents) in their car, parked on the road outside Warren’s (neighbour) property, as well as Steven’s (neighbour) car. Across from them was Carina’s (neighbour) property.
We came back down the road and briefly spoke to Kevin. We then saw Andrew’s (neighbour) car inside Carrina’s property. Another vehicle was obscured in front of it; that car belonged to Rodney (uncle).
We instantly knew that Rodney had stolen our cows. I answered a call from my mum. We exited the car, and I began recording.
VIDEO STARTED 5:26PM
IMPACT STATEMENT AS ALL EVENTS WERE RECORDED
Rodney came out of the scrub with a large stick and started trying to strike Conrad with it. Conrad had his hands down by his sides. Rodney was acting very agitated, unhinged, and unpredictable.
When Andrew came out of the scrub as well, both he and Rodney tried to get Conrad to react to them. Andrew kept trying to antagonise Conrad with comments on his masculinity.
While Rodney was arguing with Conrad, Steven came out of the scrub as well. Rodney kept telling lies about Conrad; I called him out, but I received no response. Rodney was not interested in what we had to say. He kept talking over us, especially when we were trying to tell him the facts.
When John approached us, I began to feel very outnumbered and frightened for our safety. Conrad had Rodney in front of him, Andrew behind him, and now John approaching from behind.
This was when Andrew verbally came after me. I felt my skin crawl as he spoke. He held a calm exterior while calling me a ‘fucking cunt’ and told me to repeat what he had said back to him multiple times, trying to get me to call myself that. Rodney’s two young children were in the car that Andrew was standing next to when he was saying this to me. The windows were down. They should have not been subjected to that type of language and hostility by both Andrew and Rodney.
I was very, very uncomfortable. I do not wish to interact with him ever again, especially by myself.
John tried approaching Conrad multiple times throughout the whole interaction, which Rodney prevented. Rodney told John that Conrad wanted him dead so he could steal his belongings. When I tried to tell John that Rodney was lying to him, manipulating him, Rodney continued talking over me. He kept information from John, actively making him more and more angry with us. It was sad to see John’s head fill up with lies.
Ceciley and John were both moving into Conrad’s and my space during the interaction, threatening both of us multiple times. John and Ceciley were not scared of Conrad at all as they have otherwise stated in their Domestic Violence Application. John did not seem mentally sound; he kept spacing out, saying odd things like, ‘Look what you did to my mother.’ His mother passed away in the 1950s.
Then Rodney came after me. He was still holding the stick. He is significantly bigger than me; to tell you I was scared would be an understatement. He only did this after Conrad moved off towards the car. At that moment, I felt the most unsafe. I had no one I trusted to protect me. I kept moving back, putting distance between us, telling him to not come near me, but he kept approaching. I didn’t know what I would do if he took a swing at me. He came close and held a threatening stance, making himself look bigger, before moving off towards the cows. He yelled back at me, threatening me to delete the video footage that I was recording.
10 minutes into the interaction, Carina came down the driveway, others from the road and the scrub. I realised we had been ambushed. This was all set up. There were eight people there, all against us, and unknown others still in the scrub with my stolen cows.
Then John started threatening Conrad. He said: ‘If anybody tries anything against me, they will be talking through their bloodied head, that’s for bloody sure.’
I still can’t believe that John was saying these things to his own son. He encouraged Rodney to attack Conrad. ‘Lay him out!’ he said, trying to jab Conrad with his crutch walking aid.
Ceciley asked me if I was leaving. Conrad and I had been forced to move towards the car. ‘Well, I might just stay now,’ I said.
‘Well,’ she replied, ‘I might just come after you.’
She, my only grandmother, threatened me like that.
John never let up on his violent threats towards Conrad. He told him would kill him right up until we left under police instruction – who never showed up to our aid. I was scared for us the whole time, preparing myself to jump into action should Rodney, John, or Andrew attack Conrad or myself.
END OF VIDEO
I’m having a panic attack.
The video was still playing next me as the sun began to set behind the hills, slowly plunging my room into darkness. I knew that my mother was behind me, hugging me and crying. Her tears transferred into mine and her shaking body rocked me. Even though I knew she was there, I felt separate from my body and mind, yet painstakingly aware of every point where she and my clothing touched me.
I’m gonna throw up.
I slid down onto the floor and out of my mother’s arms. I couldn’t breathe. My shirt came off next. My body slowly came back to me, sensation after sensation. The shaking. The sobs racking my body. The pain in my chest. The heat in my eyes. The vice around my brain. The pain in my stomach.
Author and Artist: Cyndra Galea (she/they) is in the third year of her Bachelor of Fine Art’s in Creative Writing with a minor in Professional Communications. When not found with her head in a book or three, Cyndra can be found radioactive antique hunting, fixing classic cars with her dad, drawing on her iPad, or writing and editing her manuscript. Cyndra aims to work as a structural editor when she finishes her Masters of Editing and Publishing, but also dreams of releasing novels of their own.
Editors: Bea Warren and Rory Hawkins