Anya's story

Anya was five years old when she and her brother were removed from their mother in the late 1980s. Together they were moved around the same foster homes until Anya turned 13 and they went to live with the Collings family in south-east Queensland.

Anya recalled that the Collings fostered quite a few children, some older and some younger than she was at the time. Often when the children were naughty, Anya would be blamed and punished for their misdemeanours.

‘My foster brothers and sisters used to get me into trouble a lot. And I used to get beaten. I used to get the pain for everything, and I was the one that used to get in trouble for it and I got locked in my bedroom. It wasn’t very fair.’

From the time Anya arrived at the Collings’s home, her foster father, Glen, began sexually abusing her. Anya was uncomfortable discussing the exact nature of the abuse but said that it continued the whole time she lived there. ‘At the time I was too frightened and too scared to tell anyone. I couldn’t even tell the police about it.’

Anya thrived at the local Catholic college, telling the Commissioner that she loved her teachers, friends and the subjects she studied. Life at the foster home, however, was very different.

After completing Year 12, Anya had had enough of the abuse. ‘I was getting treated pretty terrible so I just ran away.’ She was able to reunite with her biological family and complete her vocational training, after which she volunteered in an opportunity shop.

Anya has an acquired brain injury which has made it hard for her to communicate the abuse she suffered at the foster home. She has never reported Glen Collings to the police nor sought compensation but noted that the family still fosters children to this day. Despite the mistreatment she received, Anya does not want Glen Collings charged.

‘I don’t want him to get charged and I don’t want him to go to jail for it … because if he gets charged for it and if he goes to jail then [his wife] wouldn’t be so happy … If that ever happens then my foster mum will actually break down in tears.’

Now in her 30s, Anya is currently looking for paid work. She lives in temporary accommodation and is on the waiting list for a house. ‘I just want to be independent and live on my own and eventually get a puppy.’ She has recently started receiving counselling from a local support service and through this disclosed the sexual abuse for the first time. With this support, she has started to gain confidence ‘by talking to other people about things’.

Anya suffers from nightmares and flashbacks of her time at the Collings’s home. ‘It actually made me very uncomfortable … I do have memories about it, and I sometimes get flashbacks.’

‘It’s not easy talking to strangers about that … It isn’t easy talking about the past.’

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