‘I’m the master and you’re my slave,’ he said.
‘What?’ I gasped.
I felt sick.
What the hell have I done? I thought, suddenly scared.
As I tried to get away from him, he grabbed my neck and pinned me against the wall.
‘Get to bed now!’ he shouted.
Terrified, I did what he told me to.
That night, everything changed. Thomas demanded I cook and clean and he would verbally and physically abuse me.
‘Please let me go,’ I’d beg.
But he would just laugh, and punch me in the face.
I wasn’t even allowed to wear clothes unless he said I could.
So I couldn’t call anyone, Thomas smashed my phone with a hammer.
I wanted to get away, but I was absolutely terrified of Thomas.
‘If you try to leave, I will kill you,’ he’d tell me.
A few weeks in, things got even worse.
One day, Thomas forced me into a nappy and then pushed me into the metal dog cage in the lounge room.
Crouching, I could barely move and my face was squashed against the bars.
‘You’re staying there until I decide,’ he said.
When I cried, he just laughed, ‘That’s longer in the cage now.’
I was released after a couple of hours. But from then on, Thomas locked me in the cage most days, sometimes for a few hours, other times it was all night.
I was rarely allowed to eat or drink. If he was outside smoking, I’d quickly run to the kitchen and down cups of water. On the occasions he did let me eat, it’d just be scraps, crumbs or dog food.
I was desperate to escape but Thomas threatened he would bury me alive in the bush if I tried to.
He didn’t work, and on the rare occasions he did go out, he would get a friend to watch over me.
Even showering was restricted to once a month. When I was allowed to wash, Thomas would pour chillisauce all over my body. The stinging, as it seeped into my injuries, was unbearable.
Sometimes, he’d force a dog collar around my neck and make me walk on all fours. I was sounderweight, I could see all of my bones.
I just didn’t know how it would ever end.
On my birthday, he would say, ‘I’m giving you a break,’ and leave me alone for the day.
But at Christmas, with all his mates around, the torture was worse than ever.
Then one day Thomas had some mates over.
Usually, he would choke me in front of them and they would turn a blind eye. But this time, there was a man I hadn’t seen before, Chris.
When he saw Thomas put his hands around my neck, Chris ripped Thomas off me and pinned him to the wall.
‘Don’t you ever do that again,’ he shouted.
Chris was much bigger than scrawny Thomas, and I could tell my captor was scared.
Shaking, I said nothing, until Thomas and his mates walked out to work on his car.
Chris, who had stayed behind, asked me, ‘Are you okay?’
‘No,’ I cried.
Breaking down, I told him everything.
Chris knew of Thomas through his sister and had only met him for the first time that day.
His face was full of rage and horror as I recounted the abuse Thomas had subjected me to.
‘I’m going to help you,’ he promised.
A few days later, Chris came over again. When Thomas was in the kitchen, Chris snuck me a panic button he’d bought for $15.
He said he was working with police, but they needed more evidence and couldn’t just come into the house.
‘If you’re in danger, press this button and it will alert me,’ he said.
I nodded, blinking back the tears.
It was a glimmer of hope.
I hid the panic button under my mattress.
A week later, Thomas was more violent than ever.
After choking me, he tied me to a noose in the garden. Hanging me until I nearly blacked out, he then untied me.
‘Go and make me a pie,’ he snapped.
Realising how close I was to dying, I ran to the bedroom and pressed the panic button Chris had given tome.
He was over in minutes – and this time he had devised a plan.
A few months earlier, police had searched Thomas’ house following a tip off and discovered an illegal pellet gun. Thomas had blamed it on me and police had charged me.
Now, Chris told Thomas the police wanted to question me over it.
‘I can take her,’ he said.
Amazingly, Thomas believed Chris and let me go.
Before I left, Thomas grabbed my arm and growled, ‘Don’t tell police anything or I’ll kill you.’
I believed him.
All the way to the station, I just kept thinking about the horrors that would be waiting for me when I returned to the house.
At the station, an officer, handed me a glass of Milo and a big blanket.
‘We know what Thomas has been doing to you and we need a statement from you,’ he said. ‘We’re going to help you.’
I gave a statement and they took photos of my bruised and battered body.
The charges related to the pellet gun were dropped.
I also went to hospital where they treated my cuts and bruises.
Then Chris took me to his place. Walking into his home, I burst into tears.
‘Thank you so much,’ I said. After the kidnap hell, I was free.
Thomas Jennings was charged with more than 20 offences but made a deal to plead guilty to 11, including false imprisonment, recklessly causing injury and threatening to inflict serious injury, to have the rest dropped.
Describing one form of torture, Prosecutor Kevin Doyle said Thomas ordered me to attach a car battery to my tongue, causing an electric shock.
‘She screamed and (the accused’s) dog attacked her, biting her on the arm,’ Mr Doyle said. ‘He allowed his dog to continue to attack her which caused an injury to her arm and significant bleeding.’
I didn’t attend his sentencing in December 2017, but I was told he was jailed for two years and eight months.
Chris became my best friend, letting me stay rent-free and cooking me dinners. After a month living there, I moved in with my cousin.
Reaching out to old mates, they were shocked when I got in touch. They just thought I’d disappeared off the face of the earth.
I also met with an old family friend Harley, 25.
Kind, gentle and always putting a smile on my face, we fell in love quickly.
After three years together, we married this month.
I’ve also reconnected with my foster parents who had cared for me since I was 10 and my biological siblings, which is incredible.
They were disgusted when they heard what I went through. No-one deserves to be treated like I was.
Thomas Jennings is already out of prison, while I have to deal with this for the rest of my life.
Aside from Harley and Chris, I still struggle to trust men. But I’m a survivor and stronger than ever.
And Chris has kindly set up a GoFundMe page so
I can move on with life.
I’m so grateful that thanks to Chris, I’m finally free from that evil monster.
Chris Bourne, 37, says,
Meeting Thomas Jennings through my sister, I didn’t know much about him when he invited me over.
Seeing how he treated Angelique was heart-breaking – if he was doing this in front of me, what was going on behind closed doors? No human should live like Angelique was and I knew I had to help. It was incredible when I drove Angelique to the police, I knew she was finally safe.
I’m proud of Angelique and how far she has come.
She finally has the happiness she deserves. ●
To help Angelique, visit her GoFundMe page here.
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