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

Saturday, 7 April 2012


According to wikipedia...

"A chain of events is a number of actions and their effects that are contiguous and linked together. 

A chain reaction is a sequence of reactions where a reactive product or by-product causes additional reactions to take place.

A metaphor for chain reactions is a snowball - causing larger snowfall - until finally an avalanche results (also known as the snowball effect)."

Image Source

As I sat in the office, alone, I found myself fixating on the most random things.

Things like the bland beige paint on the walls.  And either my eyes were a magnifying glass or the fibres in the carpet were huge.

Although I was sweating profusely, the air conditioning was freezing, sending cold shivers up and down my spine.  

I was so uncomfortable that I felt the need to continuously shift in the chair.  Each time I shifted I almost had to prise my leg off the vinyl.  What were they thinking having vinyl covered chairs in the tropics anyway?  The sweat between my legs and the vinyl kept building up and I could feel it trickle down my legs like tears.  

My heart was beating so hard in my chest it felt like it was going to burst through.

I couldn't fathom the chain of events I had just set into motion.

My hands were clammy and my legs felt weak. I had to keep trying to place my feet flat on on the floor. Each time I raised my foot a particular way, my leg would begin to shake, like it had a mind of its own.  

The shivering got worse.  It seemed like my whole body was shaking.

I was running on raw, nervous energy - not just an ordinary rush of adrenalin - this fear was constant.  

This was dread.   

Someone had torn a hole in me and my entrails had spewed out onto the altar of life. Someone had exposed what was inside of me to the world. That someone was me. 

What was I doing?  I didn't know what was going to happen next.  

Finally the Deputy Principal appeared in the doorway, with two men (one was really tall) and a lady. The men were was a detectives from the CIB, the woman was a social worker from the department of family services.

So this was it. There was no turning back now.  

As I talked about the sexual abuse, they looked at me with their piercing eyes. Judging Me.  Reading my body language to see if I was telling the truth.

Eventually it was time to go. But I would not be going home.  We were going to the office of the department of family services, where I would need to give my official statement.

My mind was spinning.  Trying to comprehend.  

I didn't know how this was going to work. 

couldn't just not go home.  

People were expecting me.

I rode my bike to school and couldn't just leave it there. 

Someone might steal it.

Did I have to ride my bike to the department of family services office?  

No - I had to go in their car?

The Deputy Principal told me that they would put the bike somewhere safe.  She got me to describe what it looked like and where it was and I told her the lock combination so that they could lock it somewhere safe.

When we got to the office, I sat at a large round polished table, recounting all of the things that my stepfather had done, while they took notes.  This seemed to take hours. Finally, it was finished and we waited while the statement was printed out.  They gave it to me to read over, so that I could make sure it was all correct, and if there was anything else I needed to add.

Then my Mum was there.  She had to give a statement too and I could tell from the look on her face that she had been crying.

After a while, the two of us were in the room alone, waiting for what was going to happen next.

Mum said to me, "Why didn't you tell me about this?  Now 'J' is going to lose his job, and we are going to lose the house".

I can't even remember my response.

Eventually, the social worker came back and we talked about what was going to happen next.  

That is when I found out that Mum was going to stay with 'J' and help him fight the charges that were going to be laid against him.

I would not be able to live in my home any more.  

I was being cast out.  

And it wasn't because my mother didn't believe me.  She knew that all of it was true.

But I was being cast out anyway.

While 'J' was at the police station, I was able to go home and pack some things.  

The first thing I did was to get the cassette walkman out of Mum's cupboard that was put aside for me for Christmas. A walkman was the only thing I wanted for Christmas and I had pestered Mum for one for months.  I had only chosen it a few weeks before, so I knew it was there and there was no way I was missing out on that.

I gathered up some clothes and things that I needed, and went back to the department of family services.

While all this was happening, they had contacted my Nan (my mothers mum) and it had been agreed by all that this was the best place for me to stay for now.

Amazingly, they even asked me if that was O.K. with me.  I was grateful to stay there.  I didn't want to go to some kind of foster care - if there was even anything like that available in our town.  

By the time I got to my Nan's place, I was exhausted.  I was numb. It had been a long, tiring day.  I don't think I had any more tears left to cry.

All the time I had kept my secret, I had feared that my mother would not choose me.  My worst fear had now been realised and my world had crumbled beneath my feet. 

I felt hurt, scared, and very, very alone. Unloved. Worthless.

My one bright shining light in all of this is the love, strength and support that my Nan had for me.

I didn't know what was going to happen.

I knew that there was going to be a court case.

I would have to go to court.

Things were about to get a lot worse before they got better. 

And they did get worse.**

But my Nan was my rock through all of this strife.   

She helped me to survive.

My past does not define me.

I am not a victim.

I am a survivor.

** I will talk about this in my next post.

For new readers who want to start at the beginning, start here.

Friday, 17 February 2012


I was initially going to write a post called "Snowball",  however in my efforts to procrastinate and put off writing for yet another day, (and therefore not have to deal with a the avalanche of emotions that are about to envelop me) I spent a few hours trying to find a free image of a snowball / avalanche to accompany my post. 

I didn't find a suitable image, but I did find this awesome trailer for Ice Age 4 on you-tube.

This amusing video got me back to thinking about the chain of events that changed the course of my life when, at the age of 14, I took the giant step to 'tell'.   When life as I knew it changed for ever.   

For so long, I had kept so many secrets. Like scrat clinging to the acorn I had painstakingly clung to them - I had carried them around for years.  But after I warned my stepfather that  if he tried to touch me again I would tell, I had a few months of freedom from the abuse.  It was such a relief.  

And then, when I was starting to feel safe, he tried to touch me again.  It was a subtle start - he tried to fondle (my mostly non existant) breasts as I walked from the lounge room to the kitchen. From experience I knew this was only going to escalate.  And I couldn't deal with that.  The only way to escape was to tell.  So I took my acorn and shoved it in the ground.  I told. And that is when the ground split beneath my feet and my world fell apart.  

Damn you brain!  I didn't want to think about this today!  That is why I was procrastinating in the first place.  So much for that!  Why does my brain find the parallel between a cutsie kids cartoon and one of the most traumatic periods in my life.  Why do these videos that hide in the shadows of my soul roll on cue every day?

One day this internal video recorder - that fills my head with loops with of every horrible memory - this automatic playlist that is triggered with even the most innocent stimuli - will eventually stop rolling.

When I talk about my past it hurts. I re-live every thought. Every fear. Every memory. So why do i do it? Why do I force myself to re-live it? Why do I tell the world?

Because if I don't deal with it, it hides in the shadows of my soul, it is a cankerworm, feeding on my bitterness, it fuels hatred and negative beliefs.

Because talking about my past brings it front and centre. It brings it out in the open so I can deal with it and process it. 

It can't hide in shadows of my soul if it is out there for everyone to see. 

The only power my past has over me is the power I let it have.

I am battling myself. And its a struggle. 

Bit by bit I am reclaiming pieces of me. 

My past will lose its power.

I am getting stronger. 

I am a survivor.

NB - My fear and procrastination did not win! I have started writing my next post, talking about what happened when I decided to "tell" and I will post this soon.

For new readers who would like to start at the beginning, my story starts here.

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Dark Hour

Warning - this post contains some confronting material.  For obvious reasons I usually try not to go into detailed specifics, however, some content in this post may confront or upset some readers.

Single income lower to middle class families don't often have a lot of spare cash.

Growing up in my household, my stepfather was a truck driver for the local council.  It wasn't a massive wage, but there was always food on the table. We didn't get a lot of great treats, but we didn't go without either.

I didn't ever have to worry about where my next meal came from, or having clothes, or shoes.  At Christmas time, there were always presents under the tree. We always had birthday presents.  We always had easter eggs.  We were never spoiled with these things.  We didn't get everything that we wanted.  We learned that there was compromise.  We couldn't always have 'the best'. And that was ok.

My mother was a stay-at-home mum.  She was always there for us.  We didn't have to go to after-school care, or vacation care.   She made sure we were in plenty of extra curricular activities over the years  - and drove us to and from - activities such as dancing, swimming, little athletics, brownies, girl guides, orchestra, gymnastics, nippers, sunday school.... we got to try a lot of activities.

But a couple of years before the 'recession we had to have' things had started to become a lot tighter for our family.  And Mum started work.  

Compared to a lot of the girls at school I was quite a late bloomer.  When I turned 13 in 1988 I was still relatively flat chested.  

Mum had two jobs around this time.  She worked as a cleaner at a local school. This entailed her waking very early and going to the school for a few hours to clean all of the classrooms before school started.  She also worked at a fish and chip shop on some evenings and weekends.

For the most part, Mum tried to make sure that we were VERY scheduled when she wasn't around.  More often than not, my Nan was dropped over to look after us, even if my stepfather was there.  

But many of you reading will know, that even when surrounded by many people, a pedophile can find an opportunity to be alone enough to molest a child.

And once again this became my reality.

It started off in quite a subtle way.  

Step 1: 'Accidentally' brushing up against my private parts in the swimming pool.

Step 2: Wearing no underpants underneath his "stubbies" so that when he parted his legs his genitals were exposed 

Step 3: Talking to me 'one on one' at bedtime and at other times, befriending me, confiding in me about all kinds of inappropriate things, showing me the bills, talking to me about the mistakes my older stepsister made 'looking for love'.

Step 4: Touching me and telling me he is teaching me about love so that I will have experience.

Step 5: Blatant disregard for my feelings refusal and inappropriate touching at every opportunity.

All of this was leading up to what I call "The Dark Hour".

The Dark Hour was my nightmare. This was the hour before my sister and I had to get ready for school. Mum was at her cleaning job, and left while we were still asleep.

Each morning, regardless of my pleas for him to leave me alone, my stepfather crept into my room, and into my bed.   

During the dark hour, he touched me. He made me touch him. He performed oral sex on me.  He made me perform oral sex on him.  He rubbed his penis against my vagina.  He penetrated me with his fingers. Thank goodness he never penetrated me with his penis.

Each morning I had an excuse, a plea, for him to leave me alone. I literally felt sick to my stomach. 

But what could I do about it?

Even worse - when he touched me, my body felt pleasure. The things he did felt good, even though I hated it.   

Then came the guilt. I hated it. But it felt good. There was something seriously wrong with me.

I was sick. I was damaged.

I hated me.

Financially, we needed Mum to work.  If I told Mum, she would leave my stepfather. He would go to Jail and  my sister would be without a father.   

I had to keep this hateful, disgusting sick secret. 

I couldn't be responsible for Mums second marriage to break down.  

More Guilt.

It was like I was having an affair with my stepfather.  And I was betraying my mother.  How could ever she forgive me for that?

More and More Guilt.

So I suffered.

Every. Single. Morning.

Even if I got out of bed, tried to go to different parts of the house, he found ways to touch me.

One morning in desperation, I thought that if I could just wake up my sister I would be safe.  But no.  My sister slept like the dead and hated school so there was nooo way she was waking up.  Right there in the room, next to her bed, he touched my private parts while I desperately tried to wake her.

One day,  Mum began to suspect that something was going on.

She took me aside one morning and asked if my stepfather was 'being rude' with me again.

"No Mum!" I emphatically denied.  "Of course not.  I am old enough to know that is wrong.  I would tell you."

I felt sick to my stomach.  

Did she believe my denial?

Did she know it was true in her heart?

Why did she ask?

Did she suspect something, or was she just asking out of concern?

And so the Dark Hour and the Dark Days continued.

And then one day.....  A miracle.

My stepfather had to have an operation.  He was laid up in hospital for a while.

While he was in there, I had a reprieve.  It felt so good to be free.

It emboldened me.

And while he was in the hospital, and no one else was in the room, I confronted him.

"I don't like what you have been doing to me. It is wrong.  When you come out of hospital you won't touch me again. If you do, I will go to the police and tell them everything."

That was it.  

That was all I said.

I took a stand.

I was not going to be a victim anymore.

I was going to be a survivor.

Image in this post courtesy of http://www.stockvault.net

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The harshest lesson

If Children are raised in the right way, they have a basic understanding of right and wrong.

They know what lying is. They know they shouldn't lie.   They know that stealing is taking something that doesn't belong to them, without the knowledge or permission of the person it belongs to.

But there are always grey areas, and unfortunately, the boundaries for these are only often learned by making mistakes - and more often than not - suffering the consequences - or punishments for those mistakes.

When I was in primary school,  money was not something that children (in our family)  had access to - apart from the occasional tuck shop order.  There was no pocket money system in our household.

Once a fortnight (when Dad could be bothered to show up for his access visits with me) we would go to the house where my father grew up - his parents house - where I was often subjected to sexual abuse by my Grandfather.  For new readers, I have talked about this here.

But my Grandmother was amazing.  She was an amazing cook - whenever we came, it was no trouble to make an amazing soup, or stew, or roast. And there was always dessert.  Home Made Fruit Salad with fruit - mostly grown in her garden. Custard Made from Scratch - with eggs - and a manual hand beater - or creamed tapioca pudding.  Dessert was a MUST - it was never something that was taken for granted  - but it was cherished - and because of Grandma, dinner is never really 'special' unless there is dessert.

She also didn't like my stepmother, and she didn't like the way my stepmother treated me.  I think she also thought I got a bit of a raw deal with my parents being divorced, and remarried.  And although I wasn't the first Grandchild, I felt like a was a favourite in her eyes.

Truth be told, I probably wasn't a favourite - she probably loved all of her Grandchildren equally, but she made me feel special.

(Weeping right now as a write this).

After each visit, Grandma always made sure I took home a bunch of bananas that she grew in her back yard, or eggs from the chooks, oranges and mandarines, and even lychees, cumquats, five corners, pumpkins and cherry tomatos.  (Sometimes I wonder if she thought Mum wasn't feeding me).

And one day Uncle Tobys (the staple breakfast in the house was Porridge made from Uncle Tobys Rolled Oats) came out with a new product - Muesli Bars.  These were AMAZING!  A crunchy bar with fruit and oats! OMG.

Soon after each visit, Grandma would make sure that I took home a couple of boxes of Muesli Bars - sometimes they were Crunchy Apricot ( my favourite) and sometimes they were Crunchy Peanut Butter Flavour , or soft and chewy (when they came out - but I let her know I preferred the crunchy ones).

One day, when I was about 11 years old, Grandma started giving me some pocket money to take home.  This started off at 50 cents,  sometimes one dollar.  WOW! Money. This was awesome, I could buy stuff from the tuckshop, or from the shop across the road from school.

My best friend Lisa always had money. She was always able to buy tins of  Maringa Fruit Drops from the
shop across the road from school. (Maringa Fruit Drops were an amazingly yummy fruit flavoured hard boiled lolly, dusted with icing sugar - mmm my mouth just waters at the memory - and they came in a round tin).  Unfortunately for me, the 50 cents and Dollar, didn't go very far.....

This was when I discovered, and understood for the first time, the true value of money.  The Fifty Cents, the One Dollar, was not enough to buy things that I wanted to buy.

This was also when I discovered, people often left small amounts of change lying around.  If I took these very small amounts, no one would probably notice.  I reasoned that they probably didn't even want these little bits of money.

Over the next couple of months, 1 and 2 cent coins, 5 cent coins,  10 and twenty cent coins were all full game. Soon even 50 cents coins. If no one missed them, what the harm?

Dad smoked B&H Special Filter.  I had been smelling the second hand smoke my whole life, and just recently nicked a couple of them from his packet, and smoked them (coughing up my lungs the whole time) in the chicken coop on his last access visit.  I could be like him, and smoke the same cigarettes.  That felt awesome.

Soon I had enough money to buy my own packet of B&H Special Filter.  I bought them from the shop across the road from school ( they assumed you were buying them for your parents in those days) and smoked my first one walking home from school.  Awesome.

Unfortunately for me, Mum was a non smoker, so smelt the cigarette smoke on me straight away.  She searched my bag and found  the cigarettes.

She confronted me when she found them.  I did not want to say where I got the money, so I lied and said that Lisa (my best friend) had given me the money.  Mum said to me 'SMOKING! What next? Stealing?'  I can't remember what my punishment was, but I remember feeling REALLY guilty, thinking, "eeerrr, I have already been stealing, how do you think I could get this pack of cigarettes?"

As a consequence for the cigarettes, Lisa was not allowed to be my friend anymore.  She had access to too much money and was a bad influence.  I even believed my own lies and disowned Lisa at school.  But the worst was to come.

Dad came down for a a visit on the Mothers Day weekend.  As was the custom, he came down with his wife and new kids on the Saturday, we stayed at Grandmas on Saturday Night, and then he dropped me off home on Sunday Evening before driving home.

On Sunday Morning, while walking down the hallway, I noticed money in a glass vase on top of the bookcase.

It looked like a Five Dollar Note.  I decided, if it was a five dollar note , I would take it.  I knew this would be wrong, but figured no one would miss it.  Five dollars would buy me a lot!

Eventually, I found the right time. No one was around, and I took the note out of the vase.  Once I had taken it I had to keep on going.

But when I got to my bag, I realised that it was a $20 dollar note, not a five dollar note!  Damn, I had taken the wrong note! I decided I had to return this note. Taking twenty cents here or there was one thing, but taking a TWENTY DOLLAR note was SOMETHING ELSE.... Not acceptable....

If finding the right time to get the note from a vase in the hallway was hard, with time running out before it was time to go home, trying to put the Twenty Dollar note back and swap it for the smaller Five Dollar note was super hard.

Eventually it was time for my shower, and I figured it was now or never.  The money was in my hand, Dad was in the lounge and couldn't see the hall from where he was sitting, and no one else had view of the hallway or the vase.

But just as I went to put the money in the vase, Dad got up to go to the kitchen, so instead of putting it in the vase, I quickly slipped it into the bookcase - and then kept on walking, and went downstairs and had my shower.

When I came back upstairs, I noticed the Twenty Dollar Note was not in the bookcase where I thought I had stowed it, but I had the perfect opportunity to get the other note, so picked it up and kept walking to the room I was in to pack up my bags - only to realise this was a TEN dollar note, not just five dollars.  I couldn't keep this either.  But there were now a lot of people around and it would be impossible to find the time to return it.  I put the note in my slip on shoe, so that I could carry it without being noticed and quickly return it before going home.  Hopefully I would also have an opportunity to find the twenty dollar note and put it back in the vase.

After about 10 or 15 minutes, Dad came to confront me.

When I put the money in the bookcase on the way to the shower, it had actually fallen straight out of the bookcase onto the floor, and looked like I had dropped it. He figured out I must have taken it from somewhere and went to find Grandma to find out where I got it from while I was having a shower.  By the time she remembered she had the money in the vase,  and they checked it, they realised this was where I must have gotten the twenty dollar note from, and there was also a ten dollar note missing.

Dad told me that he knew I had stolen some money, and to hand it over. At first I tried to deny it, but he knew it was $10 and it came from the vase. Everyone knew I must have taken it, so eventually I handed it over.  I tried to explain I was trying to put the money back - and even though it was the truth, it just sounded like lies.

The money had been put aside in the Vase for Grandma's brother, who was collecting it the next week.  I had let Grandma down - she had never had a reason to not trust me before, never worried about where she kept her money, and I had let Dad down as well.

My stepmother and half-siblings stayed at Grandma's while Dad took me home.  On the way home, he said to me, "Do you know what today is?"

I said "What?"

"Mother's Day" he replied.  "Now I have to bring you home to your mother, and tell her what you have done.  Some Mother's Day Present".

I hadn't known. If I had of been at home on the weekend,  my stepfather (even with all of his faults) would have done something special for Mum and Mum would have made sure we visited Nanny and my Stepfathers Mother to give them a mothers day present.  I had missed out on that.   Dad had come down for a weekend access visit, we stayed overnight at Grandmas, and we had not wished her, or my stepmother a happy mothers day, and had not done anything special.

This was horrible.  I was scared and I felt terrible.  Not only had I stolen from Grandma, but on Mother's Day!

We pulled up at the house and walked down the driveway.  I trudged up the stairs with my bag.  Dad told Mum and my Stepfather what I had done.  They all decided, that as a punishment, I needed to get a 'belting'.  My Stepfather went and got his belt from the bathroom, but Dad would be the one who had to give me the punishment.

They made me go downstairs into the middle of the front yard.  Dad looked at me and his voice was husky as he said,"This is going to hurt me a lot more than it hurts you".

Mum and my stepfather watched from the stairs as Dad held onto my arm with one hand, and wielded the belt with the other. After the first whack, I kept trying to jump out of the way of the belt and so I was hit all over my legs and arms with both the flat and the edge of the belt.  Although it was all over in a few minutes, to me it felt like a thousand years.

I don't really remember what happened then. I guess Dad left and I went to my room.  After a while, mum helped me to have a cool bath to try to ease the pain of the welts.

When I went to school the next day, Mum said I had to try to hide the welts, and must not show anyone. But that very week my Grand Aunt and her daughter came over for a visit and Mum proudly showed off the welts.

Not long after that, I was at orchestra practice after school, when Mum came to pick me up early.  The department of Children's Services (Child Safety) these days had been called in to investigate.

Its all a bit vague now, I can't remember if I still had the welts or not.

But because of the belting, I had to attend counselling sessions at the department of child safety each week.  I thought it was because I was in trouble and I was bad though, not because they were trying to ensure I was in a safe and stable home.

All I knew is that I had to make sure I put on a brave face, and keep all of my secrets, or I could be taken away.  Children who were taken away have to live in an orphanage with high fences and weren't allowed out until they were 18. That is what my family lead me to believe.

I can't really remember what I talked about during all of those counselling sessions.  I was angry at Dad for giving me the belting, so I told them I didn't want to have access visits with him for a while. In one session I had to fill out a scale of how 'close' I felt to people in my family.  I remember on the scale I drew Dad at the very far end of the scale and my Stepfather about middle on the scale.

Eventually Mum got sick of taking me to the department of child safety each week so she booked me into Gymnastics which fell on the same afternoon each week.  I loved gymnastics and really wanted to go, and they agreed that I didn't need any more sessions.  All of my secrets were still intact.

Once Dad was able to have access visits again,  his visits were only short, and for a really long time we didn't go to Grandma's.

I didn't think she would ever love me again.  It was the worst feeling in the world.   It was worse than any punishment, even worse than any belting could ever feel.

After a while we did start going back to Grandma's, and although Dads visits were shorter,  the fortnightly Sunday Night Dinner routine went back to the way it was.

And more importantly, Grandma FORGAVE me for what I had done.

But, I still had one harsh lesson to learn.

Once you steal, you are the first suspect when things go missing.

I was on my access visit with Dad, and it was around my birthday.   He took me aside (down to the van?!) to give me my birthday card.   It was a lovely card with many pages, he took pains to read to me the words the card said about being a beautiful,  loved daughter.

Then he looked at me very seriously and said that he had to ask me something, and that he wanted me to tell the truth no matter what.

My heart was racing as I thought he was going to ask me about the sexual abuse my Grandfather or my Stepfather had been perpetrating.  I thought that somehow he had found out and was going to ask me about  it.

But instead, he asked if I had stolen a ring.  We had recently been at my Uncles house, and my cousin had apparently left her signet ring in the bathroom, and it was missing, and they thought that I might have taken it.

I hadn't taken it or even remembered seeing it.  I told Dad that I didn't take it. I can't remember how the conversation ended, whether he believed me or not.

The card, those beautiful words, were ruined.  They meant nothing, they were just words, and I would never believe it.  I was nothing good, nothing beautiful.

I had stolen money, how beautiful could I be?  And now they all thought I stole something else.  The words on the card meant nothing.

I would never be a beautiful loved daughter.  I was an accident and a disappointment.

And for many years, this is what I believed.

And it was the start of a lot of negative self belief.

But the things that have happened to me, and the things I have done in the past do not define me.

Those things are not me.

I am special, and beautiful and loved.

I have an amazing capacity to love.

I have a great future ahead of me.

I am a survivor.

I won't just survive.

I am going to thrive.