Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A story of survival

I was sexually abused when I was eight and for various reasons I have been thinking about this a lot lately and thought it was about time I got it written down. So feel free to have a read, or not. I really just wanted to get it down to assess how I really feel all these years later.

When I was eight we moved from the country back into a city. My mum and Dad divorced when I was 3 so my sisters (one is 17 months younger than me, one is seven years younger and obviously has a different Dad) and I grew up with just Mum. I remember moving into this house and I have no idea why but Mum’s brother D moved in with his girlfriend and dogs. I have no idea how the abuse started. I just remember bits and pieces of it. I have no idea if what I remember is all that happened or if there’s more. I used to do gymnastics, perhaps that’s how it started, him showing an interest in what I was doing? Maybe I was missing Dad and he D was a male role model. Maybe I wished it was Dad showing an interest in me instead of pissing off and marrying Mum’s best friend and having oodles of kids with her and having not much to do with my sister and I.

I remember D touching me in the lounge room one day. He had the light in a bedroom on so that he could see the silhouette of people if they started coming down the hall way from the kitchen to the lounge room (funny that I can remember that detail). I remember him and I being in a shed at the house and him touching me. I remember my Mum asking where I was and what I was doing. He made me say we were looking for washers and bolts together in the shed. I remember one day I told him to stop. He said it was my fault what happened and if I told anyone they wouldn’t believe me and my sisters would get hurt. He actually touched my sister T (the one who is 17months younger than me) when Mum let her stay at his house one weekend. T was brave and actually spoke up not long after it happened. I remember Mum asking me whether he had touched me as well. I asked what would happen if he did and she said he’d probably go to jail. Of course at that age I didn’t know that’s what he deserved so I said no.

He moved interstate at some stage and I remember every time the phone would ring I was petrified it was him calling to tell Mum what happened and somehow I would get in trouble. I remember when the phone would ring and I realised it was him on the phone I would hide under my bed until the phone call was over, praying that he wouldn’t say anything and that I wouldn’t get into trouble. Silly, I know, but of course at that time I absolutely believed it was my fault and I would be the one getting in trouble.

I have no idea why it all hit me at 16. Perhaps it was because I started seeing my husband at that time and trying to be close and intimate with him brought up all these thoughts and feelings? I started suffering from depression and anxiety at this time and started seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist (and later a sexual assault counsellor). I actually told Hubby before my family and he was so supportive and caring about the whole thing and has 100% supported me in cutting my family from my life and pressing charges.

When I told Mum and the extended family I was actually living with Mum’s sister S at the time. After I told everyone I spoke to D’s daughter, who would have been around seven or eight at the time and she told me he had touched her when they moved interstate. The guilt that I felt crushed my soul. I felt somehow that I had let her down and that maybe if I had of said something earlier it wouldn’t have happened to her or my sister T. At this stage I had no idea that he had abused family members before me and that there was no way in hell he should have been allowed in our home and that Mum shouldn’t have let T stay at his house.

After I told everyone my Grandma (God I hate calling her that) tried to convince me not to press charges. She told me a story about how she was raped when she was a young girl going by train to visit her sister. I already knew at this stage I’d press charges and was so shocked when she tried to talk me out of it by telling me this story. When I did press charges she said ‘he didn’t rape you, it wasn’t that bad’. Yep, crazy people with absolutely no morals I tell you. Also at this time I was pressured by Mum’s sister S to move back in with Mum, so I did. I moved back in with Mum and pressed charges then. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. It wasn’t reliving it that was the bad part it was the self doubt. It had happened years ago and I was worried that what I was thinking didn’t really happen and perhaps I made it all up?

The police officer who I spoke to at the time was fantastic. She was supportive without being over the top. She had me ring D and see if I could get him to confess to what happened. He said he remembered kissing me and that was it (yeah right!) After I pressed charges and told Mum they had taped the conversation between me and D she was mad that I had tricked him into trying to confess. After I pressed charges I don’t think I heard back from anyone in ages. I rang and asked to speak to this police lady only to be told she had left on maternity leave. Then I didn’t hear from anyone in the police force again.

I got a letter from the Brisbane attorney generals? place (can’t really remember where) telling me D would have to sit at a tribunal of psychiatrists and judge first so they could determine if he was mentally fit to stand trial. So every six months he would have to see them. And of course, just before he was due to see them he’d conveniently admit himself to a mental health unit and then a week later he would discharge himself. He did this for probably two or three years. Talk about frustrating. I was so pissed off that no one could see that he was just rorting the system.

I moved interstate when I was 18. I knew that nothing would happen with the charges as he kept checking himself into the psych wards at the convenient times. Then one day I got a call from someone in Brisbane pretty much saying it was a waste of their time to keep pursuing it and that they were going to drop the charges. It was like a kick in the guts, like he’d won and it had all been in vain. I honestly still feel like this at times, but I know that I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself had I not done ‘the right thing’ and pressed charges. My sister T pressed charges a few years ago and I’m pretty sure she hasn’t heard anything from the QLD police or the legal system. I honestly wonder why sexual assault and rape victims do press charges when you do get treated like crap. In no way was I kept up to date with anything and only knew that he was going before the psych’s and judge because the family would brag to my Mum that he’d gotten away with it again.

I am so happy in myself that I have nothing to do with them. They are so screwed in the head it’s not funny. I told the police that D had touched his daughter. When the police spoke to her about it her Mum made her say it never happened!!!!! I know his daughter now has nothing to do with him but everyone else in the family does. He has abused Mum, me, my sister T, his daughter and step son, my cousin J. My cousin J still talks to him and allows him to be around her two daughters. In all honesty I have no idea how, not only he can live with himself, but how my Mum’s extended family can as well. I am doing everything in my power to keep Mum’s extended family away from my son and don’t know why they aren’t doing the same for their children.

I thank God every day I had the strength to stand up for myself and let everyone know that sexual abuse is not okay and that I wouldn't sit around and do nothing. If I did that I would be protecting a pedophile and I have serious issues with that.