“I walked into court, I sat down, I made the oath, and then a few hours later I got back into my body and walked out.” In the highly publicized trial of Jeni Haynes against her father, Richard Haynes, it was revealed that Jeni had created 2,500 personalities to cope with the abuse she endured.
Jeni’s abuse was so extreme that her mind created more and more identities to help her detach from the pain. It was one of Australia’s worst child abuse cases, and Jeni had to wait decades before her father was brought to justice for what he did to her. Her story of survival is one that has gained global attention.
She Was an Innocent Child
When Jeni Haynes was born in 1970, she was a happy and playful child. Jeni was as cute as a button, but things quickly changed before she was old enough to make sense of the world. Most of her youth was shadowed by the monster she knew as her father, Richard Haynes.
From the time Jeni was just a toddler, Richard chose to inflict severe, violent abuse upon his daughter, and she couldn’t escape. She quickly learned that no one was coming to save her, so her brain created several personalities to protect her from the daily abuse that started when she was four.
What Did Jeni Haynes’ Father Do to Her?
In 1974, the Haynes family moved from England to Australia. Richard had already started abusing Jeni, but the move escalated the abuse into almost daily attacks. He was calculated and sadistic, planning each moment they were together because he enjoyed seeing Jeni in pain. He was too powerful.
Jeni would beg him to stop, but no matter how hard she cried or how much pain and terror he inflicted, Richard continued day after day. He saw the blood and damage he caused, but it only made him happier. He was also good at hiding it.
Getting in Her Head
Not only did Richard break her physically, but he also got into Jeni’s head. He convinced Jeni that he could read her mind, saying he would kill her mom, brother, and sister if she even thought about exposing the abuse. Jeni was terrified and couldn’t build up the courage to ask for help.
Jeni said, “My inner life was invaded by my father. I didn’t feel safe even in my own head.” She couldn’t make sense of what was happening to her, so she started to make up songs in her head, hoping to hide them from her father’s “mind-reading abilities.”
She Was Punished for Everything
Richard kept Jeni from participating in most school activities to prevent someone from finding out about the abuse. She had to learn to be silent and unseen, or else she would be punished. Even if she did well at school, Jeni didn’t want the attention because she knew it would cause her pain.
When Jeni’s school swimming teacher approached Richard to say Jeni had natural talent, he punished her for standing out. He wanted his daughter to fade into the background, so he could continue to abuse her without anyone noticing. Sadly, it worked for a while.
What Happened to Jeni Haynes?
Although Jeni has never gone into great detail about the torture her father inflicted, she has shared that the abuse caused her permanent damage. He denied her medical care for her wounds, which turned into lifelong problems. At 52, Jeni has serious issues with her vision, among other things.
She also has irreversible damage to her jaw, intestines, and coccyx. Jeni has had to undergo many major surgeries to deal with these issues, including getting a colostomy bag. She said it is a daily reminder of what she went through. But the physical damage isn’t the only lasting effect.
Richard would find new and horrible ways to torture Jeni. He once showed her a cartoon of someone who had spontaneously combusted, telling her that would be her mom if she tried to get help. He wanted to make sure she was always scared.
Those mind games caused Jeni to live in a constant state of fear. She believed her father could read her mind, so she was always afraid he would know what she was thinking. She wanted someone to save her, but no one was there to help.
Creating an Army
Because Jeni was so young when the abuse started, her mind had to find a way to cope with what she was going through. She was around four years old when she developed Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), creating different personalities to detach from the abuse.
The outside world had failed her, so Jeni created what are known as “alters” to help her. The alters let her escape from the situation, and they acted as an army to help her survive and keep fighting. For a while, Jeni didn’t know it was unusual to have multiple personalities.
Why Did Jeni Have Different Personalities?
Formerly referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder, DID stems from severe, repeated trauma before a child turns eight. DID develops to deal with something unbearable to protect the child’s mind. In Jeni’s case, she developed it when she was four because the abuse was too much.
Many misconceptions about DID exist, but some professionals see it as a miraculous coping mechanism. Individuals with DID are considered the “host,” and their “alters” can be like fully formed humans that share the host’s body. When the alter takes over, it is called fronting.
Symphony the Savior
Jeni’s first alter, Symphony, was created from the abuse. She would sing to Jeni while Richard assaulted her, and she took over to let Jeni escape when it became too much. Jeni said Symphony saved her in many ways, especially by easing her suffering.
Richard’s smell was one of the most distressing things for Jeni. He smelled like burning plastic and sweat. Symphony would block Jeni’s sense of smell, so she wouldn’t have to suffer from her father’s stench. She managed all of Jeni’s senses to make the abuse manageable.
After a few years, Symphony started creating other personalities to help Jeni. There were so many personalities because Symphony would replace an almost dead alter with a fresh one to keep Jeni going. Each alter had a particular role in containing an element of the abuse.
Jeni isn’t even aware of some of the transient alters because they didn’t last very long. The thousands of personalities were like an army protecting her from the horrors of her reality. Jeni had some alters that were just as strong as Symphony.
Some of the stronger personalities included Judas, an 11-year-old boy, Muscles, a rugged and strong 18-year-old boy, and Ricky, an eight-year-old boy. Ricky was in charge of choosing the alter that would face Richard. Ricky felt guilty for sending personalities to suffer, but he did it for Jeni.
These personalities weren’t there to play with Jeni; they were there to do their job of protecting her. Many people confuse her situation; they think she created imaginary friends to play with, but that is far from what Jeni did. They essentially kept her alive.
Ten Long Years
Richard’s abuse went on for ten long years, practically Jeni’s entire childhood. She was robbed of so many things during that time, and no one helped her. She made several attempts to tell authority figures what her father was doing, but everyone ignored her.
The attacks only ended in 1984 when Jeni and her family moved back to England. Her mother divorced Richard and took Jeni away from him. Although she was now away from the monster in her home, Jeni’s suffering wasn’t over.
Fighting for Justice
Many people didn’t believe Jeni’s story because it was too wild and horrific. Her father successfully got away with the abuse because the nature of what he did was too much to believe. Since no one wanted to help her, Jeni knew she had to fight for herself.
Jeni spent 18 years at university, graduating with a degree in psychology, a master’s in legal studies and criminal justice, and a Ph.D. focusing on victims of crime. It all paid off when Detective Sergeant Paul Stamoulis took on her case.
He Couldn’t Believe the Horrors
Srgt. Stamoulis was the first person to give Jeni a chance. She kept a detailed report of everything her father did, and many detectives turned her away because it was too much to handle. Stamoulis knew it would be a challenge, but he wanted to help Jeni get justice.
Some detectives on his team had to leave because her story affected them deeply. But Jeni said Stamoulis was like “God on earth” for believing her from the very first moment. He told her, “I don’t think you’re crazy at all. MPD (DID) is a perfectly reasonable response.”
She Felt Hopeful
When Stamoulis told Jeni he would help her, she felt hopeful after all these years. She cried because there was finally someone on her side who was in a position to impact her father’s life. The next challenge would be to prove that this happened.
Although Stamoulis and his team never doubted Jeni, they knew it would be tough to convince a judge without a crime scene or physical evidence. Additionally, there had never been an instance where someone with DID testified on their own behalf.
To help with Jeni’s case, Stamoulis teamed up with Jeni’s psychiatrist, Dr. George Blaire-West. He had been treating Jeni for several years when Stamoulis approached him. Blaire-West feared that failure would be traumatic, but he pushed forward with Stamoulis.
They wanted to give Jeni the best shot at justice, so they knew she was the only one who could tell the court her story through the voices of her multiple personalities. The two told her that there could be a possibility of criticism and judgment, but Jeni persevered.
Braver Than the Rest
Jeni was ready to share her experiences with the court. Her courage and preparedness to tell her story was incredibly unusual, but Jeni wanted everyone to know what her father got away with for ten years. She wanted the world to know what kind of monster he was.
Because Jeni’s personalities dealt with various aspects of her trauma, it meant she had an extraordinary recall. She has a memory unlike anyone else, so Jeni was able to tell her story in extreme detail as if it happened yesterday.
A Body of Evidence
If Jeni’s memory wasn’t enough, there was another body of evidence: her own. It was as if her body was the crime scene. The permanent damage caused by her father’s abuse is appalling. Unfortunately, surgery hasn’t been able to repair all her injuries.
For example, Jeni has calcified ligaments in her jaw. She used to love food, but now she is afraid to open her mouth too wide because it could lock up. Jeni would have to break her jaw if that happened. Additionally, Richard took away the possibility of Jeni having a family.
She Wanted to Be a Mom
Jeni shared that she had always wanted to be a mom since she was a little girl. She wanted to have lots of children, but those dreams were taken away from her before she even reached puberty. The severity of the assaults took away her chances of having children naturally.
She never even had the choice. By the time Jeni was 11, her father had ruined her body to the point of no return. No surgery or therapy could ever reverse the damage. All the dreams and hopes she had as a child were stolen.
Returning to the Home
As part of the investigation into Jeni’s case, she returned to her childhood home in the suburbs of Sydney to walk the police through the abuse she suffered. Jeni was incredibly brave for returning and reliving the horrors she endured. It was hard for her and Stamoulis.
A police video shows Jeni clutching her childhood toy while showing Stamoulis where each event took place. The detective had never experienced anything like that before because Jeni’s personalities came forward right before their eyes. However, they had to be meticulous about the investigation.
Jeni had waited many years to see some movement in her case, and it all changed in 2017. She was exhausted after fighting, but Jeni finally got the news she had been waiting to hear. Stamoulis told her they were going to be sending indictments against her father.
The only way for Richard to face trial was if he were extradited from England to Australia. The extradition was approved the following year, and Jeni was overwhelmed with joy, knowing her father would have to face the justice system.
They Had to Rely on Her
Stamoulis described Richard as the coldest man he had ever seen. He wanted to take this evil man down, but he was worried because the prosecution had to rely on Jeni’s testimony and that of her multiple personalities to convict him.
Among those prepared to give evidence were Muscles, Judas, and Symphony. In essence, Jeni came to the witness box with six witnesses. Stamoulis knew it would be a tough trial because something like this had never been done before; someone with DID had never testified like this.
A Unique Trial
Besides being the first case in which a person with DID testified, it was also unique because there wasn’t a jury in the courtroom. The lawyers and judge decided that the case was too traumatic for a jury to hear, so only the judge presided over the case.
Richard initially faced 367 charges, including several counts of sexual assault. Jeni was brave and faced the man who caused her so much damage. With the help of her different alters, she provided the court with details of each attack she had endured.
Her Testimony Was Credible
Prosecutors brought in psychologists and DID experts to testify about Jeni’s condition and the credibility of her allegations. They explained DID to the judge and prepared the court to witness Jeni’s transition between the different alters. They didn’t have a plan, but Jeni said whoever had the right answer came forward.
On February 21, 2019, Jeni walked into the courthouse for the first time, filled with many different emotions before she got to testify. She had a sense of relief because she had waited nine and half years to sit in a courtroom and tell the court her story.
Taking the Stand
When Jeni took the stand to testify, Symphony was the first to speak. Symphony described the crimes committed during the family’s time in Australia in extreme detail. Then, Muscles reported the physical abuse, while Linda (another personality) testified about the effects the abuse had on Jeni’s school life and relationships with others.
The parts of Jeni that spoke were as sophisticated as any other person, but they happened to share Jeni’s body. Jeni and the five personalities that fronted gave a comprehensive, balanced account of Richard’s vile abuse.
She Didn’t Protect Him
As Jeni sat in the witness box, she wasn’t afraid to look her father in the eyes as she recounted every awful thing he did to her. Because the crimes happened when she was a child, Jeni was entitled to anonymity, but she waived those rights.
She wanted the world to know her story and know the name of the man who hurt her. Jeni didn’t want the headlines to read “74-year-old man in court” because she didn’t want to protect his identity. Jeni wanted him to walk into prison with everyone knowing who he was.
A few hours into her testimony, Richard decided to plead guilty to 25 of the worst charges. He must have known there was no way he would walk free. When he changed his plea, Jeni and the prosecution cried. She had finally won her lengthy battle.
Jeni had spent years waiting for the day her father would pay for his actions. She hoped his time in prison would be as uncomfortable and painful as her childhood, and many agreed with her. Still, Richard had no remorse, and all that was left was his sentencing.
Her Powerful Statement
At Richard’s sentencing hearing, Jeni took the stand again to deliver her powerful victim impact statement. She told the judge, “My life has been devastated by his selfishness. To date, I have been the one paying the price. Your honor, can you finally place the responsibility where it belongs, on Richard.”
Jeni hoped he would go to jail for a very long time, and her wish came true. The judge said, “No sentence could possibly measure up to the depraved and abhorrent offending that Richard Haynes has yet to explain,” before sentencing him to 45 years in jail without parole.
Knowing Richard would spend the rest of his life in jail gave Jeni a sense of freedom. Australia abolished the death penalty in 1985, but that would have been a more fitting punishment for a man like him. However, 45 years is much longer than Richard has left in his life.
It was a big win for everyone involved in Jeni’s case, and the whole thing changed those who worked to put Richard behind bars. Her successful quest in the courts validated her condition and opened the doors for many others like her.
She Never Gave Up Hope
Jeni’s case caused many to wonder how someone can go through such horrific things and continue to push forward and fight. Her psychiatrist said that Jeni’s resilience and hope make her an extraordinary woman. She has never given up when most people would have.
Her accomplishments have helped others with DID come forward to share their stories. People now see the truth behind DID, and Jeni opened many people’s eyes to a condition that has been misunderstood for decades. She is truly remarkable in every sense of the word.
Who Is Jeni Haynes’ Mother?
Since her case made headlines worldwide, many have wondered if Jeni’s mom, Pat Haynes, knew about the abuse. Pat met Richard when she was 19, and they decided to move the family to Australia, hoping their prospects would be better.
Pat had no idea that Richard was abusing Jeni, but she felt horrible when Jeni finally told her. Since her daughter came forward, Pat has been extremely supportive and never once doubted anything she said. It’s simply shocking that she never knew what was happening in her own home.
What Happened to Jeni Haynes’ Siblings?
Jeni grew up with an older sister and brother, but their identities have remained private throughout the case. Like their mother, her siblings didn’t know about Jeni’s abuse. How could they not have wondered why Jeni was in such poor physical condition? Maybe they were too afraid of Richard.
Richard never explained or stated why he chose to abuse Jeni out of his three children, but the other two were not subjected to the abuse. Her brother and sister were just as stunned as their mother to find out about the abuse.
Most of Jeni’s life had been destroyed by her father, but now that she won the fight, she is ready to move on. She wants to travel, further her education, and make happier memories. Jeni said, “It’s time now to enjoy life.” She said she wouldn’t do things that didn’t make her happy.
While she can’t erase the past, she wants to start a new chapter. Unfortunately, there are lasting effects of the abuse. Jeni feels she will always be alone because she can’t have a relationship with anyone. Expressing love was a punishment for most of her life, and she can’t bear to be touched.
Reclaiming Her Life and Mind
Jeni said her life is now about what she wants to do and what makes her want to get out of bed in the morning. She also sued her father for $840,000 and ordered him to pay for her legal fees. Luckily, she also won the lawsuit.
Although she cannot have a paying job due to her DID, Jeni has used her voice to help others like her. She has been able to construct a new life despite the damage done to her. No one can take her life away again.
The Personalities Aren’t Going Anywhere
Jeni is now free to move on with her life, but she will always have her alters. No amount of therapy or support can reverse her DID. Therefore, Jeni’s army will stick by her wherever she goes. DID has no cure, but its symptoms can be managed.
She credits her alters with saving her life and protecting her soul all these years. Symphony, the four-year-old, said she hopes to make it to 14. Jeni has worked hard to regain control of her life through therapy, and her army will always be there if she needs them.