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Bianca Judith's story

'Things could have been so different. … I am still a strong person. … I still look at meself as a strong person.' Bianca doesn't think she would have been bipolar if she hadn't been sexually abused as a child.

As an adult Bianca experienced flashbacks of the street, the house, of every room in the house where she was abused, and of the abuse itself. The house was in a regional city in New South Wales where Bianca lived in the 1960s until the age of eight.

Bianca has managed to piece together some of her personal and family history. When she was born her parents were not married. The records Bianca has found are not complete but it appears that from birth Bianca was made a New South Wales state ward. She has been told that when she was only a few days old her father took her across the state and placed her in the care of Uncle Bert and his wife. She discovered later that Uncle Bert was not actually a relative but a family friend. She also discovered later that her father had taken her brother to live at his sister's.

After Uncle Bert's wife died Bianca was not allowed to stay with him because he was a single man. So she stayed close by at the home of Uncle Bert's girlfriend. Also residing at that house were the girlfriend's daughter Fiona and her brother Percy who Bianca thinks might have been in his 40s.

Bianca can remember that from when she was about four Percy molested her, and the abuse continued until she was placed in a children's home when she was eight. Bianca also remembers that when she was there Fiona overdosed and died. Fiona had a toddler but Bianca cannot remember there being any other males living at or visiting the house. She wonders if Percy was molesting Fiona too.

Percy treated Bianca 'like she was a little person, like an adult. I can't understand why he done it'. Bianca did not tell anyone about the abuse.

Bianca attended the local Catholic school. 'I must have been hungry as a kid because Sister Patricia always used to feed me too. Took me up to the convent … did my hair … and did all of the things that weren't being done at home.'

Bianca thinks Sister Patricia was suspicious about her home life and might have known she was being molested. She thinks Sister Patricia, to protect her, talked Bert into sending her to the children's home.

Uncle Bert died while she was still at the local school. Bianca thinks that had he lived he would have looked after her. She did not realise what Percy was doing was a crime or that the school could do anything about it.

Bianca does not understand why she was sent to the particular children's home. It was run by a different Catholic order of nuns than ran her primary school. It was in a different regional city and Bianca thinks it was for intellectually delayed children. Bianca was physically and emotionally abused at the home. When she left she couldn't read because she wasn't taught to.

'There was no escaping that, no escaping getting the beltings. No escaping all that stuff. No matter what I did. No matter how much I mucked up because I was hoping they'd get rid of me. But they still didn't but there was nowhere for me to go anyway if they did get rid of me. Not until I was 16.'

Bianca has had a lifelong fear of the dark because she was locked under the stairs at the home. She was also unnerved by the way the nuns constantly watched the girls, even when they bathed. Bianca has battled depression all her life and is bipolar. Her life has been a constant struggle. She picked the 'wrong sort of partners', lived on the streets, and was an alcoholic. She is 'proud she didn't end up in jail’.

Bianca worries about the impact that her trauma will have on her children. She feels she has been over protective and says she hasn't always 'been the parent that I should have been'. Nevertheless, her children say she’s 'a good mum'. Her own mother passed away when she was 30 but Bianca didn't know at the time.

She is upset that DOCS did not look after her – how they did not follow up when they took her out of her mother's care. They checked up on her brother but not on her. 'I had to go to the mental hospital to feel that somebody cared, to feel safe, to get back on track.'

'I hope youse believe me. … it's not going to be a perfect system, I hope children are safe, that's all I want.'

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