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Woman used her 2,500 personalities to help convict her childhood abuser

Woman used her 2,500 personalities to help convict her childhood abuser

Jeni Haynes and many of her personalities testified against her abuser in court

Warning: Contains references to physical abuse

A woman with dissociative identity disorder (DID) has said the 2,500 personalities she lives with helped save her from abuse she suffered as a child.

Jeni Haynes wasn't born with multiple personalities, but instead developed them throughout her childhood as she experienced extreme and repeated torture at the hands of her father, Richard Haynes.

Jeni was just four years old when she moved with her family from Bexleyheath in London to Australia in 1974, after which her father's abuse became an almost daily occurrence.

In a victim impact statement delivered in court, Jeni said: "My dad's abuse was calculated and it was planned. It was deliberate and he enjoyed every minute of it.

"He heard me beg him to stop, he heard me cry, he saw the pain and terror he was inflicting upon me, he saw the blood and the physical damage he caused. And the next day he chose to do it all again."

In an interview with 60 Minutes Australia, Jeni described the abuse as 'severe, sadistic [and] violent'.

To help her young self cope with the abuse she was experiencing, Jeni's mind created new identities to help distance her from the pain. Over time, she says she created 2,500 distinct personalities to survive.

DID, also known as multiple personality disorder, is defined by the NHS as feeling of the presence of other identities, each with their own names, voices, personal histories and mannerisms. Someone diagnosed with DID may also feel uncertain about their identity and who they are.

Jeni described the abuse as 'sadistic'.
60 Minutes Australia

Jeni's coping mechanism was initially met with skepticism, but opinions changed after she took to the witness stand in March 2019 to present evidence against her father from a number of her different personalities, including a four-year-old girl named Symphony.

Discussing her experience, Jeni explained: "I didn't know you were only supposed to have one personality. So I made people. I made people to deal with things that I couldn't deal with."

She argued the personalities weren't anything to do with the outside world, instead arguing DID is 'an act of love' and not one of 'mental illness or playing silly games, pretending to be other people'.

"You are protecting yourself," she added. "You are protecting your soul."

She recalled how her personalities would try to help protect her from her father, with one American-accented personality encouraging her younger self to leave the room to avoid further abuse.

Jeni created an 'army' of personalities.
60 Minutes Australia

Symphony was Jeni's first additional personality, and she credited the four-year-old with making 'thousands of people' to 'take on things that she didn't want [Jeni] to have to go through'.

Jeni described her personalities as an 'army', and the case against her father is thought to have been the first in Australia where a victim with diagnosed DID has testified with their other personalities and succeeded in securing a conviction.

"We weren't scared. We had waited such a long time to tell everyone exactly what he did to us and now he couldn't shut us up," Jeni told the BBC after the trial.

On 6 September, 2019, Richard Haynes, then in his mid-70s, was sentenced to 45 years in prison for his crimes.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111

Featured Image Credit: 60 Minutes Australia

Topics: Mental Health, Life