Showing posts with label child sexual abuse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label child sexual abuse. Show all posts

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I don't know a lot of things ...

Warning:  This blog post discusses child sexual abuse.  If this is upsetting or triggers thoughts you can't deal with please call Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Bravehearts 1800 272 831

Rolf Harris was sentenced on Friday night.  He got five years and nine months.

Is it long enough?

What is long enough?

Ten years?




Public flogging?

All of the above?

I'd like to think the victims of Rolf Harris are feeling something other than let down, but my guess is that's exactly how they are feeling.

The man who abused me died before he received any type of sentencing.  

He abused many girls during his lifetime and ultimately never paid the price for his crimes of stealing our innocence.

Maybe if I had done something, perhaps he would have spent some time in jail? 

But I did nothing.

Not a thing.   Ever.

My adopted sister did something ... but not until she found out he also abused her daughter.

She had him charged.

She asked me to help and I said no.

I did nothing.

Not a thing.  Ever.

I just couldn't.  I couldn't face him again and I couldn't bear to describe in detail what used to happen.

I wish I could explain what it is like being the victim of child abuse ... but I can't even articulate it inside my own head.  You see I don't know what it feels like to not be a victim, so I don't have anything to compare it to.

I don't know what it is like to go to bed as a little girl and feel safe and secure knowing my mummy and daddy will protect me from scary things and people.

I don't know how it feels to have a daddy who loves me no matter what.

I don't know how to not have the thoughts of the things he did when he used to sneak into my room when everyone was sleep.

I don't know a lot of things.  

Things others take for granted. 

A lot was taken away from me by a man who thought it was okay to adopt daughters to then use as his playthings.

I sound angry and bitter, except I'm not.

I'm simply stating the facts.

It is what it is and we are all dealt a hand in life and it is up to us to play it as best we can.  I feel like I've played my hand well.   There were  times I got a bit lost, loved the wrong people, lived recklessly and hid from my feelings behind some massive walls. 

But all in all I've turned out okay. 

Except it never really goes away.  Victims of child sexual abuse will always be victims of child sexual abuse because there is no erasing it.   

No amount of therapy, denial, wall building and whatever else we choose to throw at it will make it go away.  

These publicised cases of child sexual abuse stir up a lot of feelings for me and every other person who had their innocence stolen by a pedophile because just when you think you've packed it up and put it in a suitcase on top of the cupboard ... bang!

Out comes another Robert Hughes or Rolf Harris and it starts all over again. 

Victims of child sexual abuse are everywhere.  I can guarantee that every single person who reads this will have someone in their circle of friends who is one.  You may or may not know, but they are there, silently reliving things they'd rather forget.

These public cases really do come at a price.  We can't hide from the media - we hear news of it every single day.   

I work in the media and it is part of my job to read, hear and see footage of these court cases.  

Does it have an impact on me?  Absolutely.  

Does it have an impact on every other victim of child sexual abuse?  Absolutely.

So is 5 years and 9 months enough time in jail for a child sexual abuser?

No.  It really isn't.

If this blog post is upsetting or triggers thoughts you can't deal with please call Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Bravehearts: 1800 272 831


Thursday, May 29, 2014

No means no. No exceptions. No Caveats.

I have held off reading the #YesAllWomen tweets because, to be honest, I'm outrage fatigued.  If I'm to be totally honest, I'm actually "feminist outrage" fatigued.   It seems every second day there is something for feminists to be outraged about and Twitter seems to provide the fuel for flaming the outrage fire.  Being outraged all the time is tiring and if that is what it takes to be a feminist, well I guess you could say my apathy far outweighs my desire to fight for equality, that and I tend to verge on the side of lazy when I'm not at work.  Cute kitten pictures and witty quotes are more my thing.

This morning I felt it would be safe to have a look, and given that I work in the media, I really should know what's going on.  By now the outrage fire should be nothing more than smouldering embers.  I was wrong.

The tweets are still strong and filled with feeling and intent.  Usually I'm bored or tired of the issue after reading twenty tweets of people saying the same thing, but these are different to the usual Twitter outrage.  They speak a long silent truth.  They reflect what I feel deep down in side.  They make me sad.  They make me mad.   They make me think and look at myself.

I have never jumped on the feminist bandwagon because I truly believe I'm not one and that men and women are fundamentally different in all ways and I kind of like that.  I like a man opening a door for me.  I like a man who steps back and lets me go first and I like a man who feels he needs to protect me.   I also believe that if my husband is working hard all day he deserves to come home to a cooked meal if I'm home before him.   I also don't mind the occasional wolf whistle, so surely I can't be a feminist?  That's my fluffy pink slippers view of feminism.

Before you all hang me out to dry ... deep down I know these things aren't what fundamental feminism is all about ... I don't want to think about the real reasons because it's too close to me.  I would have to think about things I have long packed away.   I would feel like I need to be involved, need to speak up and need to be doing something.

After reading the #YesAllWomen tweets, I actualy felt like I was betraying the sisterhood by doing and saying nothing.  By holding onto my quaint, fluffy, beliefs I keep myself safe ... out of the fray, it's easier.  But it really isn't.
Two tweets made me stop breathing.  Two tweets forced me to think hard about what I really believe and what being a feminist was all about.  

The first tweet that stopped me in my tracks was this one ... 

And how true. 

There are different types of rape ... it's not only rape because a woman is violently forced to have sex by a stranger who attacks her on the way home in the dark.   If a woman does not want a man to touch her or have sex with her and he does ... it is rape.  All rape is rape.  No matter what the situation.  Sadly so many women live with rape, some every single day, and never report it. 

Rapes often occur after a night of drinking, dancing and perhaps flirting.   How many women wake up after one of these nights knowing they were forced or felt obliged to have sex?  This is rape.  

As women we've been conditioned to question ourselves about these situations ... somehow it had to be our fault.  "Was my dress too short?"  "I wore a g-string, that must mean I'm asking for it?" "I let him kiss me, I sent a signal I wanted more?"  "I let him up for a coffee - I only wanted coffee, but I probably sent the wrong signal?" "I've had numerous one night stands (on my terms) and if I reported him they wouldn't believe me because of my history?"  "I was too drunk?"  "I was too high?" "I was flirting with him all night?"  "He paid for my drinks, I guess I owed him?" 

When a rape of this type is reported, I wonder how many of the accused perpetrators say "she was asking for it?".  How often did you hear that phrase as you were growing up?  "Don't go out dressed like that, boys will think you are loose."  "Look how short that skirt is, she's just asking for it dressed like that!"  "It doesn't surprise me that she was raped, she was always flirting with the boys, she was asking for it."  And surprisingly, it wasn't only the men who said this.

What about marital rape?  How many women live day to day in marriages where they are forced to have sex?  It might not be violent force, but it can be emotional force.  A sense of entitlement by some husbands.  How many women go into the bathroom afterwards and silently cry as they clean themselves up, to come back to bed and sleep with their husbands?  How many women say "I just do it because it's easier than saying no"?  How many women truly believe this and how many men make them feel this way?

How many sexually abused children never speak out because they blame themselves?  How many wait until they are an adult before they feel like they can talk about it?  How many are not believed by family members when they finally do speak up?  How many find themselves on trial, trying to prove the type of person they are, rather than the person who allegedly committed the crimes?  Woody Allen's step daughter for example, whose situation really upsets me.  It's not about Woody Allen having to prove he didn't do it ... it's about her having to prove he did.   It was the same for Sarah Monahan and Robert Hughes (now convicted) and now the Rolf Harris trial.

No one wants to think that a man they love or gave birth to could be capable of doing such things.  We always want to see those we love and care about in nothing but the best light, which is a perfectly normal, but for the women involved in these cases ... a grave injustice.

This was the second tweet rocked me to my core: 

So do I.  My sons should be reading these tweets.  I should be ensuring they understand that no means no ... no exceptions.   Have I been vigilant in teaching my boys this?  I'd like to think so, but I have never laboured the point and therefore don't think I've given this as much attention as I should have.  I've spoken more about a man should not hit a woman and less about the different types of rape.  

As each generation passes the next generation is better informed, more understanding, but we still have a long way to go.  

It really is up to us ... right now ... the mothers and father of sons, to teach our boys to respect women.  To instill in them that a woman owns her body and a man has absolutely no right to it unless she invites him to - and by invite it means she say yes ... without coercion.  It is as simple as that.  No exceptions.  No caveats. 


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Two Little Girls

Warning:  This blog post deals with child sexual abuse and might be disturbing to some people.

Image Credit 

Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who were unable to have a baby of their own.  They applied to adopt a baby and in August 1963 their dreams came true, a tiny girl baby was given to them by the state of New South Wales.

Two years later they had the joy of bringing home another little bundle of pink, gifted to them by the State.   A few years later a miracle occurred ... they fell pregnant naturally.   Nine months later another little girl was welcomed into the family.

This family of five eventually moved out of the small flat on top of a garage and into the home which had been built for them.  To all looking on it was a normal happy family, a man and a woman who had been blessed with three miraculous little girls.  They were special.

It should have been perfect.

It wasn't.

Behind the walls of the small fibro home, a father who should have been cherishing the daughters he had been gifted, was abusing that power in the most evil of ways.

A little girl should be tucked into bed, kissed good night and left to dream sweet dreams.   She should feel safe in her bed.

From a very young age the oldest of the little girls started getting special late night visits from daddy.

He was sneaky and only came in after she was asleep.  He would touch her with his hands and his penis, ever so softly in the hope she would stay asleep.  She was, by nature, a light sleeper and would wake up and pretend to stay asleep because she didn't know what to do.  At first she felt comforted by her daddy coming in and spending time with her, but there is a point when a little girl knows that what daddy is doing is not what a daddy should be doing.  This is when a little girl's world turns upside down and she is no longer an innocent little girl.

She would lay awake every night planning how to stop him coming in.  She would get out of bed after she'd been tucked in and leave piles of books and noisy toys in the pathway to her bed.  She would also lie awake as long as she could so she wouldn't wake up to him touching her in places that a little girl should never be touched.

He eventually stopped trying because the obstacles would make too much noise and her mother was sleeping in the room next door.  It didn't stop the little girl from lying awake at night for many years to come, wondering if he would start again.

During the day she managed to hide her bad thoughts away and get on with growing up.  She made friends, went to school and did all the things girls do.  Despite the awfulness of the secret she carried around, she had a full and reasonably happy childhood when she was away from the family home.

On the inside however she was always insecure.  She always had anxiety.  She never felt loved.  She always felt different.  She had a secret no one else had ... or so she believed.

She sometimes thought of telling her mother what her father had done but could never bring herself to do so.   She was scared that once it was said it could never be unsaid and life would change irrevocably for all of them. The strange thing was that even though the life they had wasn't right ... it was the only life she knew and she felt if their lives fell apart it would somehow be her fault.

She didn't know that down the hallway there was another little girl in the house going through the same thing.  She will never know if it was happening at the same time or whether it only started when it stopped happening to her.   For a long time she wondered and occasionally she would almost ask the other little girl, but could never find the right words.

Sexual abuse was never ever talked about in those days and the two little girls really didn't have a name to call what daddy was doing to them.

The two little adopted girls ultimately endured years of sexual abuse at the hands of this man.  This man who applied to adopt children under the guise that he would provide a good life for them.  That he would give them the love and security their natural parents couldn't.  This man abused the trust of the mothers who made the most difficult of choices thinking they were doing the best thing for their babies. This man who never should have been allowed to be a father.

It wasn't until the two little girls were married woman with children of their own that they found out they had both been abused by this man.

Unfortunately they had never been close as sisters and had never supported each other.  In fact the three little girls had never  been close.   They grew up quite a disparate group with the older two spending as much time away from the house as possible.  They were three very different people who shared two parent figures yet each sister led a totally separate life.

The eldest sister spent as much time as she could away from the family, ingraining herself into her friend's families.  She had close friendships which she would maintain for her entire life.  She would grow into a woman who understood friendships yet had no idea how to do love and families.

The middle sister would ultimately lead a troubled life, as she too must have had trouble with love and families.

The younger sister, who was the natural child, seemed okay.

I can only surmise as to how they both feel because this is not their story.  This is my story.  I am the eldest of the three sisters.

When I found out via a chance telephone conversation that my sister had been abused for years by our father everything changed.  I found out that she had made attempts to tell our mother but she was never believed.  Our mother didn't do anything to protect her children.  This was my turning point.

I was a mother and I would have done anything to protect my children.  I could not fathom how our mother could do nothing.  Having that man in my life while my boys were little was always a terrible conflict for me.  I hardly ever saw them and when I did I would never let him hold them nor did I ever let them be alone with him.

The day I found out for sure about my sister It took me ten seconds to tell her that I never ever wanted to see our mother or father again.  It transpired that he had abused my sister's daughter as well and she ultimately had him charged. I declined being part of the court case because I had moved on.  He was found guilty and died before he was sentenced. I never saw him again.

Cutting them out of my life finally gave me the ability deal with this secret I had been carrying around since I was 5 years old.

Dealing with it doesn't mean I can pretend it didn't happen.  I still have occasional flashes of disturbing memories and suspect I always will.  What it does mean is I know it wasn't my fault and I know that there is nothing wrong me.   It also means that I am not reminded of it every time I have dealings with that family.

Walking away wasn't easy ... I did have guilt.  I felt bad for punishing my mother for something my father had done.  She may or may not have known,  I will never know for sure.  But what I do know is she didn't do anything to protect us, especially when my sister had told her.   She is not alone, her natural daughter has always been close to her, and still is... this made it easier for me to walk away.

I am no longer a part of them and after eighteen years I can barely remember what being part of them felt like.   We all deal with things the best way we can ... this was my way.

Why am I writing this tonight?  An old school friend made contact with me today to tell me that my mother was in the hospital ... she had a fall.  I had to read her message a number of times to realise who she was talking about.  I felt strange because I felt nothing.  I felt guilty for feeling nothing.  This is the woman who fed and bathed me and put me through school.  I still felt nothing.  I eventually felt sad ... but only because I felt nothing.   The only thing I felt compelled to do was finally write about why I feel nothing.  I made my decision eighteen years ago and I don't regret it.

What I do regret is not having the ability to say anything when it was happening.  Unfortunately back then speaking up wasn't encouraged or supported.  Anything of a sexual nature was shrouded in secrecy, we were never ever told what sexual abuse was.

We have come a long way in dealing with child sexual abuse and I know if I had been born in this time, I would have spoken up for certain.

We must never stop talking about sexual abuse.


If this blog post brings up any feelings or concerns that you are unable to deal with ... please call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Adults Surviving Child Abuse
ASCA's 1300 Line operates between 9am-5pm Monday to Sunday EDST*,

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