Warning: Some of these blog posts will contain real life content that may shock or confront some readers, or trigger PTSD.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Fight or Flight

A while after my stepfathers abuse was discovered by my mother, they decided to sell their house and move from the small rural suburb that we lived - into the main township.

While they looked for a new house to buy, we rented a 2 bedroom unit in a small block of 4. The landlord and his wife lived in the first unit.  A teacher lived in the second unit.  The 3rd unit was ours and an old lady lived in the 4th unit.

While we were living in the flat, I shared the small bedroom with my older stepsister and younger half sister.  My stepbrother was a lot older and he kept living with his Grandmother. 

We lived in the flat for about 3 years or so.  During that time the old lady moved out of the 4th flat, and my maternal Grandmother moved in.  The teacher moved out of the second flat and a single mother "T"and her son "P" (who was in my class at school) moved into the second flat.

One day, my mother and my two sisters and I were next door visiting T & P.  P was playing some kind of computer game, which I found really boring, so I came back home, and was hitting a tennis ball against the brick wall in the garage with a tennis racket.

It had been quite a while since my mother had caught him sexually abusing me, and he hadn't tried to touch me since then, so I was totally unprepared for what happened next.

My stepfather was inside, and came out into the garage.  "Where is everyone?" he asked quietly.

"They are over at T & P 's house" I answered, concentrating on the ball and racket.   I was facing the wall - he was behind me.

"Where's Nanny?" he asked.

"I don't know  - I guess she is in her flat" I began... 

But he said "Sssssshh" and from behind me he began to put his foot in between my legs and slowly moved it upwards until he touched my bottom and pelvis.

I froze.  

I felt sick. 

I knew exactly what was about to happen next.  

I had to get out of there.

Any excuse would do.   

I decided to try playing dumb; to pretend I didn't know what he was doing; what he was trying to do....

I said, "I have to go over to T & P's place - they are waiting for me".

And I ran.  


For a while.

Later that night, I was getting ready to have my shower before going to bed.

My stepfather told me to go and have a shower.  In an insolent way (just like most other normal 9 or 10 year olds tired of being nagged by grown ups) I put my hands on my hips and said "I was just about too." 

He completely lost it. 

"You won't talk to me that way. I am meant to be the head of this house, not the dog!" he bellowed. 

He grabbed his strap and gave me a belting. 

After it was over I lay sobbing on the bathroom floor.  

The tiles felt cool and comforting.  

Mum eventually came in to help me.  "You will have to learn to do what he says," she said.

I have no doubt in my mind that he lashed out at me that night because he didn't get his way.

When I finally went to sleep that night, I dreamed that my stepfather was trying to abuse me again.  In my dream, Mum came to me and accused me of 'being rude' with him, which I denied.  In my dream, she said " I know you have been, because I can smell is Teeth!".

I know that dream is a bit random, especially about the teeth, but I believe it was my 9 or 10 year old brain trying to process everything that had happened.  That no matter what happened, I was responsible all the bad things that happened to me.  That my mother wouldn't be there for her when I needed her the most.  That the next time he didn't get his way, I might suffer this consequence again.

But I am proud of myself on that day.  

I am proud that I ran.

I am a survivor.

Saturday, 22 October 2011


Generally in life, when a person commits a crime, they leave an evidence trail of some kind, which leads to them being caught.  They've slipped up somehow, there's something that they didn't factor in when planning their crime.

But child molesters don't often fall into that 'general' crime category.   Firstly, they prey on children.  Secondly, as an adult (and usually as a family member or trusted family friend) they are in a position of power over that child.  Finally, they have the time and access to groom the child - developing a 'special relationship' with the child, often using a significant level of threats, worries and concerns to ensure that the child will not reveal their 'secret' to anyone.  

The evidence of their crime is locked away in hearts and minds of their victims.  They leave scars that aren't really visible to those who aren't looking. 

Scars that can take a lifetime to heal.

Initially, I was sexually abused by my stepfather.  From what I recall, I was about 5 or 6 years old when this started - and I gave an account of this in my first blog post.  If you haven't read it, you can read it here.  Later I was also sexually abused my paternal grandfather - you can read about this here.

My stepfather fell into a regular pattern of abuse.  He would find opportunities to be alone with me, so that he could touch me, and so that I could touch him and perform the usual kinds of acts. In the swimming pool, in the laundry, even in the lounge room - as long as no one else was around.

But he got a little bit too greedy. .. And became just a little too brazen... He slipped up...

We had recently adopted a little puppy.  He was a cute little guy. He bit us a lot, so we called him nipper.  Because he was still so little, we were keeping him in the laundry, which was located in the back of the house.

One morning, I woke up early and decided to go and play with nipper in the laundry.  My stepfather happened to be in there too - I think he was about to put his boots on so that he could go to work.  He said something to me like, "Oh, Ok, just quickly" and as he got me to touch him again, also said something  like, "We are going to have to be more careful, or Mum will find out".

When I think about this now (after my blood stops boiling), I can't help but shake my head in disbelief at his statement. I wouldn't have been any more than about seven years old.  But somehow I was imposing on him? He was giving into my sexual wants and needs?   He was doing me a favour?  Hmmm.... I don't think so!

A few seconds later, Mum walked through the door.  

I don't actually remember what happened then.  I don't know what kind of view she had of what was happening.  All I remember is seeing her in the doorway, and the feeling of fear - of knowing that she had seen us. 

The next thing I remember is being in the front yard.  I think I must have been scared.  Mum told me it was very important that I tell her the truth, and asked me if my stepfather had been 'rude' with me.

I remember the sound of my voice.   I remember my answer so clearly.  It shocks me.

"Yes.... but Mum...  Don't be mad... It's not his fault..."

That's all that I remember about that moment.  I don't know what happened next, (I think they had a huge argument), but I knew that it was bad, and I knew that it was my fault.

Then life went on.  Like nothing ever happened.  The world didn't end.  And he did stop touching me, for a while.
Mum didn't pack up and leave, but I am pretty sure that for a while, she watched me like a hawk.  One night, I came out of my bedroom and walked into the lounge room, in my nightgown (it was like a partially see-through night dress), with no underpants on.  My mother and stepfather were on the lounge watching tv.  Mum saw that I had no underpants on and yelled at me.  

"What are you doing with no undies on?! ...  Are you trying to show "J"?!  ...  Are you trying to be rude again?"  

She smacked me and sent me back to my room to get underpants on and to go to bed.  I learned that I was the bad one.  I was the cause of it all - it was my fault.

And so I began to exist the way many abused children do.

In sadness. 

In secrecy.  


I think about these events a lot. I don't think of it every day.  Not even every week.  But I do think of it a lot.  

Sometimes it can be the littlest thing, that brings it to the front of my mind.... like last year when we added a puppy to our family, reminding me of Nipper, which in turn makes me think of the events in the laundry.  Or a mundane activity like doing a load of washing, and thinking about the events in the laundry.  Or seeing a pair of blundstone workboots (or whatever brand they were).

And I sometimes I get mad. I get so mad that Mum didn't leave him.  I was so young.  You can't explain away sexual abuse as an accident... or a once off...   And I get mad that I thought it was my fault.

Sometimes I feel sad, and cry about the innocence I lost.  Cry that Mum didn't love me enough to protect me.  Was I worth so little that she would choose a man over the safety and well being of her child? 

I will never understand.  One day, when I am ready I will ask why.  But I am not ready today.

For now, I don't need to know.  The scars are still there, but I am starting to heal.  I am building my life.  I have a loving husband, and three beautiful children that I cherish with every fibre of my being. 

I am strong.

I am a survivor.

Copyright © 2011 http://strifesurvivor.blogspot.com

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Angel Will Help You

Something a bit different from my last two posts, but something that I feel I need to share.

I have been suffering from a cold for the last few days  - keeping up with working full time and dealing with three children after work has been exhausting.

On Wednesday night,  I was too sick to go to my ladies group - it is held every second Wednesday and is one of the only things I do for 'myself' so I was feeling particularly sad.

That night, I dreamed that I was trying to paint a mural on a glass arch window.  

I only had a thin paintbrush and a bucket of white paint, and it wasn't working. I was starting to get more and more upset, and I started crying," I just can't do it!"   

My tears started falling into the bucket of paint, which then mixed with the paint, making it too runny, so as I kept trying to paint, it made the white paint all streaky on the glass.  This only made me more upset.

Then I noticed some beautiful music in the background.  I looked at my hand,  and instead of the thin paint brush, there was a beautiful red rose. 

A voice said, "The Angel will Help You".

I put the rose onto the glass, and it lit up with a soft yellow glow.  

As I moved the rose over the glass, I began to paint a beautiful mural.  

It was amazing.

Copyright © 2011 http://strifesurvivor.blogspot.com

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Beginning Part 2 - Shouldn't you be my protector?

For a few days I have been thinking about what exactly to write in my second post about the beginning of my journey.

The Beginning Part 1, talks about the start of that journey - the start of a sordid period in my life being sexually abused by my stepfather...  If you haven't read it yet, you can read it here.

I am not comfortable using the names of the people in my stories, and so - at least for the time being, whenever I need to mention a name, I am going to use the first letter of the person's first name.

What I am about to write, has been weighing on me heavily.  It is something I have only shared with one, or maybe two people in my life.  After much consideration, I have decided to share it, because maybe by sharing it will help to heal me, and maybe it will help someone else to talk about their experience, so that they can heal too.

After the initial incident in the bed, my stepfather started finding many opportunities to be able to touch me, and to make me touch him.  He talked to me a lot about what he was doing, and how people wouldn't understand, that I must never tell anyone. 

Often once a child is sexually abused, their eyes are opened to the world of sex, in a way that they never were before.  Often their behaviours and interactions with other children and adults can become overtly sexualised.  

This was true in  my case.

On access visits with my Father, we often used to spend a lot of time with at his parents house.  My stepmother hated these access visits, and wasn't too fond of me, so I tried to stay out of her way as much as possible.  Dad would often read the paper, and watch tv, and I often spent a lot of time with my Grandmother and Grandfather.  My Grandfather had a chicken coop, where he kept chickens and pigeons, and a large paddock that other people often kept horses in.

One afternoon, in the shed next to the chicken coop with my Grandfather, he lifted me up onto one of his workbenches.  Automatically, I spread my legs so that he could touch me.  He said to me that he shouldn't touch me there.  I said to him,  "But  J does it all the time."

What should have happened at that moment?   I have pondered this many times.

In a perfect world, my Grandfather would have been horrified, revolted even.  

He would have taken hold of me, bundled me up with love and carried me into the house to talk about this horrible revelation with my father and grandmother, and he would have made sure I was safe...

He would have made sure I was kept away from my Stepfather so that this terrible thing never happened to me again.  He would have called the police.  He would have confronted my stepfather.  

In a perfect world.  I have had plenty of time to think about this scenario.

But, it is not a perfect world, and my Grandfather was not a perfect man.  

He took my invitation at my word. 

He has been passed away for many years now, so I will not ever know what he was thinking. I can only imagine. I know that he was not thinking like a grandfather who wanted to love and protect his granddaughter.

Perhaps he was thinking this was a perfect opportunity to do something sordid and secret - a willing participant - served up to him on a platter.  After all, it was pretty safe, I was used to keeping this type of secret.  

He just had to coach me a little more than J did - he didn't want me telling anyone else - that would be much too dangerous... I had to promise I would never, ever, tell anyone, not even J.  And I had to be careful about how I acted around other grown up men.  I couldn't do this type of thing with them.

And so I kept his secret.... and for years, kept keeping the secret.   Even when the truth eventually came out about J , I kept his secret. 

But I won't be defeated by the strife I have faced in my life.

Today I am telling the world. 

The world knows my secret.  

And I am a survivor. 

Copyright © 2011 http://strifesurvivor.blogspot.com

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Beginning - Part 1

I was an unexpected blessing.  My parents were Aussies living and working in New Zealand. It was 1974 when I was conceived and so they quickly came back to their home town in Australia, to get married.  My mother was 18 or 19, I think Dad was  20 or 21.  

I don't ever remember my parents being together.  They divorced when I was a baby.

After sharing a flat with my Aunt for a short time, my mother rented a house in a small rural suburb about 20 minutes drive from the main township. (A long way in those days!)   The owner of the house was a divorcee, and lived in the house next door, with his mother, his son and his daughter.  It wasn't long before they were married and I had a new family... and soon I had a new sister on the way...

My father moved to a new town (about an hour away), for a fresh start and a new job.  He met a young woman at square dancing (part of me wants to say LOL) and he was soon remarried too... with a son on the way...

I have vague memories of my fathers wedding.  I was a flower girl.  I remember getting my hair curled at the hair dressers. The hair dresser used a large clunky heated curling wand - the type that had spokes all over it.  I remember the hairdresser telling me to let her know if the curler got too hot or too close to my scalp, but kind of being too afraid to say it was too hot.  I wanted to be brave. I had a purple flowery dress.  I felt like a princess.

By the time I was in Grade 1, in 1981, my life felt normal.  I didn't know any different.  Dad got to visit me every second weekend (when he actually turned up) and we would go to my grandparents house...

Then, something happened....

One morning, I jumped into bed with my mother and my stepfather.  I don't remember if there were other kids in the bed.  

As I was kicking about a bit, under the covers, I felt something soft with my feet.  It felt weird. I didn't know what it was so I tried to touch it with my foot again. I began gently prodding this soft thing with my foot. Suddenly my stepfather grabbed my hand. He pulled my hand down, and placed it onto his private part.

I am not exactly sure what happened then.  I don't think Mum was in the bed at that stage.  She may have gotten up to start getting breakfast ready.

I think my stepfather said something about not telling Mum.  

It was the start... of something... sordid.... that went on... for a while...  

I was five, or six years old.

When I think about this now, I can't understand, how he was able to justify what was going on.  

But this kind of scenario... when no one else was around, was about to become a common occurrence.   

This was the beginning of my journey as a survivor...

Copyright © 2011 http://strifesurvivor.blogspot.com