Bianca’s father began sexually abusing her when she was two years old. From when she was five, he would drive her to various places around their city in New South Wales where at least seven other ‘white, middleclass professional men’ also sexually abused her.
All these men were Freemasons. Bianca remembers seeing her father’s Masonic cane, apron and a book she called the Masons’ ‘catechism’ at home.
Bianca quietly and calmly read her account to the Commissioner, starting with an early memory of being made to perform oral sex on her father. Sometimes her father would abuse Bianca as he drove around on errands, pinning her hands to the steering wheel as she sat on his lap.
At Easter, things got worse for Bianca. Her father came into her room, very angry, and made her bend over the bed. He put his hand on her back so she couldn’t move and pushed the Masonic cane into her vagina. He was doing this to help Jesus because he was dying, he told her. He said Bianca wouldn’t get into heaven and that she was just a little bitch. He often called her and her sisters a pack of bitches, Bianca said.
On Anzac Day that same year he sexually assaulted her with a cane. He said he had to do that because she was a girl and he had to ‘get rid of the bad stuff’. After these assaults Bianca would have a bath. Her father had warned her that if she told anyone, worse things would happen. So she was frightened that if she made the bathwater dirty, someone would see it and she’d get in more trouble.
One afternoon, when she was about six, Bianca’s father drove them to a place they’d been to before. But this time, her father said, it was very important. ‘There was a strange man there and he had a coat and a hat … I had to take off my pants and get into the back seat of the car and I was pushed so that I was lying on my side facing the back of the seat.’ Bianca’s father held her hands over her head.
‘The man sat against my head and shoulders and called me “girl” and “young miss” … He told me this was his job and he took it seriously. There were things I had to do.’
The man then anally raped Bianca with a Masonic cane. She lost control of her bowels but the abuse went on.
Afterwards her father was very angry because she’d ‘made a big mess’. Bianca saw the same man again but can’t remember the details. She described being abused by other men, sometimes while her father was there and other times when she was left alone with them. ‘I was aware that they all used various pieces of Masonic equipment – the sticks, the canes … the book, the aprons. And there was a special bag with things in it.’
She couldn’t recognise the men. It was either too dark or she was positioned in a way that made it hard to see their faces. ‘I also didn’t want to look’.
The abuse stopped when she was about 11. Bianca now thinks that her father was granting favours to these men in order to be promoted up the Masonic hierarchy.
She can’t remember if she told her mother when she was little about being abused, but years later she confronted them both. ‘They denied it. My mother denied it. She thought I’d been brainwashed.’
Bianca suffered permanent physical damage as a result of the sexual abuse. Still, she regards herself as being lucky in many ways. ‘I’ve been one of the very fortunate ones in that I’ve had the skills to function.’ Even though she struggles with feelings of self-loathing and shame, she has a strong constitution, she says, and she’s optimistic. And she was intelligent enough to get through school and make a career for herself, despite the abuse destroying her concentration.
‘I just wasn’t there a lot of the time … I was physically there but I was busy trying to deal with what was happening.’
A big impact of the sexual abuse has been the non-stop negotiation. ‘Every day I’m constantly negotiating with myself that it’s all right to do this, that it’s all right to go here.’
Bianca says it would have helped if sexual abuse was something that could be discussed when she was a child.
She also believes medical professionals should routinely screen for child sexual abuse history, just as they do for allergies, rather than relying on survivors to initiate disclosure.
Everyone needs educating about sexual abuse, she told the Commissioner.