To Hell and Back: Tanjas Story
To Hell and Back: Tanja’s Story is the disturbing and inspirational true story of a woman who reclaimed her life after being kept as a sex slave by her father for 23 years.
When Tanjas Darke took her father to court in 2000, the case shocked New Zealand when it was revealed that Ronald Van Der Plaat (67) had manipulated, controlled and abused his daughter from the age of nine. Outwardly Van Der Plaat had appeared a charming and intelligent man who liked to collect and photograph Pacific artifacts, was a loving solo father and a volunteer Lifeline counsellor.
But to his daughter Tanjas, he was a monster who raped, beat and drugged her. Tanjas managed to escape at the age of 32, and it was only after suffering a near-fatal cardiac arrest as a result of the drugs he had given her, that she courageously decided to report her father’s abuse. Her father denied everything and said his daughter had a vivid imagination. Yet police found hundreds of naked photos of Tanjas and bondage equipment at his home.
On October 19. 2000 a jury convicted Van Der Plaat of rape, indecent assault and sexual violation. He was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, and a subsequent appeal was dismissed.
Tanjas made this documentary because she wanted to show that if “I can go through hell and come through still thinking the world is a wonderful place then so can anyone else in a similar situation.”
“This is an extraordinary – and yet ultimately positive story – which aims to give other abuse victims a message of hope while also providing a rare insight into a situation that seems incomprehensible,” says producer Rachel Stace.
Producer: Rachel Stace
Thanks to: Tanjas Darke
Exec producer: John Harris
Network executive: Irene Gardiner
Writer/director: Roz Mason
Script polisher: Paul Hagan
Researcher: Rachel Stace, Linda Herrick, Tanjas Darke, Belinda McLeod
Editor: Andy McGrath
Additional editor: Glen Molesworth
Production manager: Toni Williams
Production coordinator: Elizabeth McGougan
Production assistant: Lornelle Henry
Camera: Mike O’Connor
Additional camera: Nic Finlayson, Steve Fisher
Sound mix: Sam Richards
Post production: Images
Sound: Mike McCree
Additional sound: Don Anderson
Narrator: Paul Barrett
Production accountant: Glenda Paterson
Funded by: New Zealand on Air and TVNZ