Anastasia's story

After Anastasia was born prematurely, her mother left the hospital and didn’t visit her for many weeks. Her mother was more concerned with her older siblings than with looking after the new baby and she never felt able to connect with her mother.

In the mid 1950s Anastasia’s family moved into a housing commission estate in Sydney. Family life was tough. Her father was a gambler and often absent. Her mother was depressed, and often violent towards her and her siblings. Ever since she was a baby, Anastasia has felt unloved and neglected.

When she was seven, she and her siblings were sent to Sunday school at an Anglican church near home. She was repeatedly told that the only reason they went was because her parents needed someone else to care for her and her siblings.

‘My parents were atheists. My mother said, “No God exists if they killed my mother … but at least we will be rid of you on Sunday morning”.’

Anastasia loved attending Sunday school. She enjoyed meeting people who inspired her and cared about her so she started volunteering. There were several hundred kids who attended Sunday school and she enjoyed doing group activities with all of them. She spoke fondly of going on camps and weekend adventures throughout her childhood.

The church was run by lay people; there wasn’t a minister until Reverend Kevin Winter arrived in a casual capacity. Anastasia remembers the day he arrived in church one Sunday as if it happened yesterday. She was 14, and drawn to him.

‘My strongest memory was of him putting his hand on my shoulder. I felt like that was a claim of ownership; he would do that a lot.’

Things at home got worse. Her mother completely neglected Anastasia’s younger siblings and her father was never around. She took it upon herself to care for her siblings but the task became overwhelming. She wanted to get out of the house, so when Winter started taking the night services at church, she decided to go.

Anastasia’s parents wouldn’t let her go to the night service because they didn’t want to pick her up afterwards. However, they would let her go if she got a lift. Winter volunteered to drive her home and it was during these drives that he sexually abused her.

‘I’d learnt to just do what people want, so when he wanted to kiss me the first time, it was yep, bang … I was totally compliant.’

The abuse occurred weekly for three years. When she was 16, Winter anally raped her while they were on a camp. Every time Anastasia was abused she dissociated completely and would only remember that it had happened when she woke up the next day. Reliving the abuse the next day was traumatising for her.

Anastasia knew she couldn’t tell anyone, not even her parents. She would have got a belting if she disclosed the abuse. She was 17 when Winter left the area and the abuse ceased. He never contacted her again, and she kept silent.

In the mid 1960s when Anastasia was 18, her friends introduced her to Jim Quentin. Quentin was a kind Christian man, but Anastasia didn’t like him that much. People had told her that he was a womaniser and only interested in younger girls. She dated him because he was the only eligible Christian man she knew.

Anastasia grew concerned by the things that people were telling her about her partner. She confronted him about it and he told her of one incident that occurred on a camp. Looking back, Anastasia wished she hadn’t forgiven him so easily. She said back then it was expected of her to forgive and forget.

Soon after Quentin became a minister, Anastasia married him. However, she was contacted by the college he attended and told that he had been in contact with a younger woman while he was studying so Anastasia decided to watch him.

In the mid 1970s, Quentin became a pastor at a church in a different suburb. Not long after, Anastasia discovered that he’d had a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl. She had marriage counselling with Quentin and mentioned the girl, but he denied it. He accused her of being crazy. Anastasia took her child and left the marriage.

Anastasia had a mental breakdown when she was in her 30s. She couldn’t tell anyone about the abuse or her husband’s behaviour because she was embarrassed. She left the church because she couldn’t connect with the Anglican faith anymore. She has never felt that she’s had control of her life, which continues to be traumatic.

‘I am grieving because of my loss of faith.’

One year prior to her private session with the Royal Commission, Anastasia reported her husband and Winter to the Anglican Church. She learnt that Winter had died in the 1980s, but isn’t sure if any investigation took place. However, the Church gave her a settlement of $100,000 before she attended her private session.

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