‘Everything you did was in fear.’
Abie was sexually abused by her stepfather for two years from the age of eight until she ran away. When the police found her she told them about the abuse, but nothing was done.
In the early 1960s, she was made a ward of the state and placed in various institutions and foster homes. After more attempts at running away she was branded ‘uncontrollable’ and when she was in her teens she was sent to a girls’ home in New South Wales.
Abie was in the home for several months. Upon her arrival she was subjected to an internal examination which she described as ‘invasive’. She said she was ‘constantly petrified’ of the staff and some of the other residents.
She recalls being forced to scrub a big walkway with a toothbrush, and being hit whenever she took a small break. On one occasion she was taken to a secluded room underneath the dormitory and kept there for two days and nights.
‘I remember the lights being on and I was on a bed with no linen. No one talked to me … I think I’ve blocked it out because I don’t want to remember what happened in that room.’
Abie believes she was sexually abused there. She couldn’t tell anyone because she knew the staff wouldn’t do anything about it. After being released from the room, she kept to herself and was compliant as she didn’t want to be put there again.
When she was 16, Abie was returned to her family. It only took a few months before her stepfather again tried to abuse her. She didn’t want to tell her mother so she left, even though she had nowhere to live and couldn’t support herself. However, she was able to find a place to rent and a full-time job with help from her boyfriend’s family.
Throughout her adulthood, Abie has had many different careers. She has never had therapy but said that she’s coped with it all ‘very well’. She is concerned with the ‘great holes’ she has in her memory because she believes she’s blocked out the sexual abuse.
‘I’m acknowledging to myself that this did actually happen.’
She has not applied for redress or made a statement to police because she doesn’t know who abused her. She decided not to report her stepfather because she didn’t want her mother to know. She told her husband in the 90s about her stepfather, as well as her experiences from the girls’ home.