Review - To Hell and Back, Carolyn Pethick

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

A policewoman's story of discrimination, bullying and harassment. Incredibly difficult subject matter, relating a very personal experience. Equally one can imagine that it would have been a difficult, although hopefully cathartic experience, relating the events Carolyn Pethick outlines in TO HELL AND BACK. 

I've had many goes at writing something about this book until it finally dawned on me - I can't review a story like this / I'm not comfortable rating something this personal. Whether or not it was an enjoyable, informative or difficult experience reading it, is nothing compared to the author's aim in writing it.

Year of Publication

'To Hell and Back' is a memoir detailing one policewoman’s trials and tribulations working within the ranks of the Victoria Police Force from the early 1980’s to the present day. Despite numerous instances of harassment, false accusations and character assassinations, the member still manages to maintain her sanity and perform her policing duties to the best of her ability. Ultimately, this is a story about one person’s struggle to say and do the right thing, to follow procedure, no matter what the eventual cost to herself or her career.

When a Carolyn joined the Police Force as a twenty one year old female she expected to be confronted by some horrible situations. She expected to be confronted by death, drugs, offenders, and all that came with being a Police Officer.

However, nothing had prepared her for what she was about to encounter. She did not expect that all the problems, disappointments and heart break would come from within the Police Force, from the members she worked with and trusted. She was not prepared for the blatant sexual discrimination, bullying and harassment that was an excepted part of Police culture. This book outlines what many Policewoman had to face to be accepted into the boys club known as Victoria Police. It details how quickly members would turn their backs on someone if they thought supporting them could be detrimental to their own careers. In the Police Force it seemed that no one was ever accountable or responsible for the welfare of its members and Carolyn’s story really highlights these problems. 

This is the true story of one Policewoman’s fight to stay in the job she loved no matter how much it affected her health, her family life and her confidence. 

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