In the early 1960s, Allison’s father died and she was placed into a large foster care home in Perth. At three years old, she placed in foster care with a ‘lovely’ family, comfortably off, who gave her a good life. ‘Everything was very nice … and it was quite happy for a while.’
The family had no young children but they did have a son who was in his 20s when Allison moved in. He lived with them and from the beginnings of Allison’s time in the family, he was given the responsibility of disciplining her. When she misbehaved he would use a leather belt and buckle on her.
‘It was a strap if it was mild … across the butt … and if you were really bad, then you got the buckle part.’
The punishment always took place in private in a bedroom and as Allison grew older he made her take her punishment with no underpants on.
When Allison was 13 years old and was sick in bed, he came into her room to check her temperature. He felt her forehead and then said ‘There’s another way of checking your temperature’.
He then digitally penetrated Allison – ‘And that to me was off. I didn’t cry, I didn’t do anything’, she said. ‘I was more scared than … anything.’
For a while there were no more incidents, but one day Allison was ‘naughty’ again: ‘I got the strap but at the same time he gave me the strap he did the same thing again.’
The abuse continued, gradually escalating. One day he barged into the bathroom when Allison was having a shower.
‘I was scared ‘cause I think I was more vulnerable because I was standing in the shower naked.’
Allison began taking her dog, who was very protective, into the bathroom with her. Two days later, when her adoptive parents had left the house, he walked into the bathroom while she was in the shower.
‘He said “If you need a day off school let me know, we’ll go somewhere more private … and I’ll write the note for the school” … And I just wanted to say to the dog, “Just kill him, just kill the shit” … I just felt so dirty and disgusting.’
Over the next year her abuse continued whenever she had to be disciplined but otherwise she made certain she was never alone with him or took a day off school. Finally, when she was 14 years old, she told her foster mother about the abuse.
‘I said, “I want to go and see the welfare department about it”.’
Her foster mother took her to see someone at the department.
‘I just said to them, “This is what happened”. And this lady wrote it all down … she sat there and listened to me … and I really believed [that] between my foster mum that I loved to death, and this lady, that something would happen … that he’d just be told [to] stop.’
After Allison finished, the woman asked her to leave the room so she could talk to her foster mother alone. A little while later, her foster mother came out and took Allison home.
‘[The woman] didn’t come out to talk to me at all. She just sent me back. And then about three months later, I ran away. Never went back.’
Allison became pregnant at 16 years old and has been married several times.
‘He absolutely ruined my life. He ruined me having a family, he took my innocence away … do you think someone could do that to a child? It’s just wrong … As soon as something goes wrong, I go … I just leave. I can’t handle it.’
When Allison was an adult she confronted her foster mother about the abuse. And, when she heard that the man was now married with his own children, she phoned him. She was concerned for his daughter, she explained.
‘I just wanted to let him know as a 40-year-old person that what he did stayed with me all my life and if he touched his kid, you know, there would be repercussions, because I wouldn’t hesitate … I just felt so good after it.’
She is resilient despite what life has thrown her way.
‘Sometimes in life you’ve got to get on with it … That happened … now I’ve just got to get on with my life and make the best of it I can. I can’t dwell on it every day.’
To this end, Allison wants the Royal Commission to make a difference.
‘Please make a difference guys, you know, even if it’s one kid, just make a difference.’
Allison has never accessed her departmental records, as she always thought the process would be protracted and that they would be uninterested in helping her.
‘You do feel like you’re fighting the system sometimes and I fought the system when I was 13 … asked the system to help me and it didn’t. It didn’t.’