05 Apr Kimbarlie O’Reilly opens up on assault by Dimboola player Jake Frecker
“Did he do this to you?”
These are six words Kimbarlie O’Reilly will always remember as the lifeline that saved her.
It was January 16, 2019 and Ms O’Reilly had been bashed so severely by her jealous, controlling boyfriend that she could barely walk.
The hour-long assault by footy player Jake Frecker was so loud it woke the neighbours, who called triple-0.
When police arrived, Frecker, a repeat domestic abuser, ordered his girlfriend to lie and say she was injured in a fall – a story she initially corroborated out of fear.
But officers split them apart and Ms O’Reilly was discreetly assured that she could be protected.
“One police officer took Jake outside and the other stayed with me. He asked if I was okay and I nodded my head. He then asked if he had done this to me and I said no,” Ms O’Reilly recalled.
“He then walked over to the side of my bed and asked again quietly ‘did he do this to you?’ and I nodded.”
Ms O’Reilly, then aged 34, was rushed to hospital and Frecker, then aged 28, was arrested.
Ms O’Reilly owes her life to the police who came to her aid that night.
“I was really lucky – I didn’t think I was going to get out of there,” she said.
The sustained attack by Frecker left Ms O’Reilly with severe and ongoing injuries.
He repeatedly punched her in the face, eye and jaw, breaking her eye socket and cracking several of her teeth in a fit of rage sparked by a text message sent to Ms O’Reilly by her ex-partner who she shares a business with.
At one point, Frecker grabbed Ms O’Reilly by the arm and dragged her into the house.
She had been knocked unconscious after a vicious blow by Frecker who warned: “Do you want me to give you another one?”
When she came to and asked for an ambulance, he responded: “You still have a pulse so you can get up”.
During questioning, Frecker painted himself as innocent party who would never hurt women.
He told police his girlfriend had fallen over on the concrete driveway and that it was against his nature to intentionally hurt someone, “especially women”.
He was charged and bailed but returned to prison 24 hours later for contacting Ms O’Reilly in a breach of his intervention order.
The breaches continued after he was let out.
Frecker instructed friends to contact Ms O’Reilly to tell her he was sorry, “had changed and still loved her”. She knew he was dangerous and stayed away.
In June 2020, Frecker was sentenced to six years behind bars – a term he is planning to appeal.
He was also convicted over a series of disturbing assaults on a previous girlfriend in 2016 and 2017.
These included him punching, pushing and pouring beer over the young woman’s head.
Ms O’Reilly had to undergo surgery following the assault.
She can no longer walk properly and requires ongoing pain medication for hip.
Mentally, the year-long relationship left her a shadow of her former self.
Frecker would call her names, isolate her from loved ones, threaten her family and to kill himself to keep her under his control.
“He threw bottles of Cruisers at my head and flicked cigarettes at me – I felt like nothing and was constantly walking on eggshells,” Ms O’Reilly said.
One of her biggest regrets is not telling loved ones about the abuse. She encouraged other victim-survivors to seek help when red flags emerge.
“Don’t ever think it’s you and don’t ever think you are alone,” she said.
Today Ms O’Reilly is fighting a new battle: to get a ‘no violence’ policy within Australian sporting codes.
While on bail, Frecker was allowed to keep playing footy at Dimboola Football Club.
Ms O’Brien is lobbying football clubs to ban players who are on bail or facing charges for violent crimes.
“I wont stay silent. This needs to be talked about to fix the problem,” she said.
SHIFT FROM PHYSICAL VIOLENCE TO TECH STALKING
Women who fear they are being stalked via technology are having their mobile phones swept for spyware and homes and cars checked for tracking devices under a promising new pilot program.
Technology-facilitated stalking and harassment has surged to record levels in Victoria where domestic abusers have become masterful hackers and surveillance devices are cheaper and easier to access.
A new trial underway in Melbourne’s southeast is putting scared women in touch with a private security firm to remotely wipe their phones, tablets and other devices of stalkerware and inspect their homes and vehicles for hidden cameras, trackers and recording devices.
The pilot, known as the Nicholson Project, involves family violence victims living in the Dandenong, Casey or Cardinia region who have expressed tech-abuse concerns to police.
Stephen Wilson, CEO of Protective Group, which conducts the security sweeps, said technology abuse in family violence settings has exploded in recent times.
His company routinely finds trackers in victims’ cars and tiny cameras hidden inside children’s toys or household fixtures.
Aired on Herald Sun on 13/06/2021.