Alyce's story

Born in the mid-1980s in New South Wales, Alyce was raised in a strict Baptist regime and knew nothing else. She describes her family and church environment growing up as akin to a cult.

Alyce believes that her grandfather, the church group's founding principal, was afraid of the outside world and that this is why he forced anyone who spoke out to leave the community.

One of several siblings, Alyce ‘copped the most discipline’ from her parents and grandparents. From a young age she began to question the church, as she identified an increasing ‘disconnect’ between what was taught from the Bible and what happened within the church. The church had previously provided care for drug users and others in need but this response changed from welcoming them to isolating them from the church altogether.

Alyce was segregated from her own family for speaking out, and moved into her grandparents’ home. In the church community, if a child no longer lived at their parents’ house, it meant that they ‘had done something seriously wrong’. She was never allowed to return to live in her family home.

At her grandparents’ home, Alyce came into regular contact with her adopted ‘uncle’, Daniel Weir. Weir had lived there since he was nine and would have been at least 20 when she moved in. It was in the home that Weir sexually abused Alyce twice when she was eight.

Alyce only attended a school which was also controlled by the group. It practised Baptist doctrines and provided only basic education for its pupils. After the abuse occurred, Weir became a teacher at the school, as he too was involved centrally with the group. His behaviour towards her continued to be inappropriate.

‘He would go out of his way to brush up against me or touch my bottom as I was going past. From being a young child to right up until I was 19. I was never able to be out of contact of him, he was always around.’

Alyce never reported Weir’s behaviour because she didn’t know it was abusive or criminal. Her lack of education, particularly about sex, and knowledge of basic human rights meant that she was especially vulnerable. She believes that her grandfather’s fear of the ‘evils of the world’ is one of the reasons the church provided a guarded environment for its children.

‘I was detrimentally uneducated from the “fear factor”. I didn’t know the word “sex” until I was 16 years old.’

Alyce attempted to leave the church group altogether when she was 19. When she was found by her family she was held captive in a locked room for three days as punishment. She was further punished with public humiliation at church. Her grandfather was manipulative and forced her to cook him meals and she felt that he ‘owned’ her for what she had done.

‘I didn’t know my rights as an adult, I didn’t know it was wrong to be locked up in a house for wanting to move away.’

Alyce left the church successfully in her early 20s. Entering the ‘real world’ was confronting as she didn’t have a lot of basic knowledge that the young adults around her did. The psychological abuse she endured from her family and the church group resulted in insecurity and self-consciousness about her sexuality.

Alyce’s lack of sexual education and experience made her unable to acknowledge any form of violence and anger. Her first relationship, which led to marriage, was abusive. She felt that she couldn’t manage the complexities of relationships.

‘I didn’t have any trust of men whatsoever. If I did, it was the wrong sort of trust. It was that people would see that you were vulnerable and take advantage of that.’

Alyce’s family has disowned her for leaving the group and she has since severed all ties with them. Upon learning that what Weir did was wrong, she felt betrayed and vulnerable. Not long after she left the church group, Alyce attempted to tell her parents about the abuse.

‘I said to Mum, “I need to tell you of something that happened with Uncle Daniel” and her face went grey. My dad didn’t know what to do. But they didn’t address it, they glossed over it then and there, and said, “Aside from that, you’re walking away from God”.’

Alyce came to the Royal Commission and reported the abuse to the police because she discovered that Weir was still teaching at the Baptist school. She was concerned that he could still be abusing children.

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