Carrie grew up in a small town in regional Victoria, and in the 1980s was a member of a local girls’ activities group.
Sometimes the group would do chores for people in the community for a nominal fee. It was for this purpose that Carrie’s supervisor sent her to the home of an elderly man, known as 'Jonesy', when she was 10.
Jonesy lived with his son, who was in his 40s. Carrie went to their home numerous times over the next three years, but her visits were never monitored or supervised by the activities group.
‘I was made to go into a blue room, and do all sorts of stuff.’ Jonesy warned that if she disclosed this abuse to anyone, his son would harm her sister.
This abuse continued for around a year, then his son ‘was in on it as well’. Sometimes they would abuse her together, and ‘sometimes one, and then the other ... When the son came on the scene, he was really nasty’. This went on for another two years.
Two other girls from the group started visiting the house regularly, too. Although they didn’t talk about it, Carrie knew they were also being sexually abused.
When Carrie had just turned 13, Denise, a friend’s mother, noticed changes in her behaviour. She questioned Carrie, who disclosed the abuse to her. ‘She told my mum, and my mum didn’t believe it ... I got flogged badly over it.’
Denise then contacted the police. Even though it was ‘very, very scary’ for Carrie to talk to the police, she told them what had happened. The other girls also reported the abuse around this time.
Carrie didn’t have to give evidence in court, and thinks her written statement may have been used instead. She doesn’t remember ever being advised about the court process, and was not supported through it. ‘It was horrible, it was absolutely horrible. And as I said, I didn’t have the support of my mum either.’
Jonesy was charged and convicted, but not jailed. Despite this conviction, Carrie’s mother – ‘a very nasty creature’ – still did not believe her. As far as Carrie knows, Jonesy’s son was never convicted.
Carrie remembers that overall she had a ‘terrible childhood’, and was also raped by her stepfather soon after the abuse by Jonesy. She told her mum and sister about this assault, but they denied it happened. She didn’t ever tell police.
Being a small town, everyone in the community heard about the abuse and Carrie was ridiculed. Although her school was aware of the situation, they did not offer any assistance. ‘I went through hell at school, even after my school years ... I’ve been called “Jonesy” for years, up until not long ago. I’ve been victimised my whole life over it, until recently.’
Carrie ran away from home at 14. Jonesy moved interstate around this time, and was convicted of sexually abusing two girls there. This time he received a prison sentence.
It was only when her mother read about that court case that she finally accepted that Carrie was telling the truth. She contacted Carrie, ‘but it was too late. I still don’t talk to her’.
Becoming dependent on substances to deal with her trauma, Carrie experienced her first overdose while still in her early teens. Nonetheless, she credits her drug use with getting her through life for many years.
Since Carrie stopped using drugs, the abuse has come back to her ‘ten-fold’, and she still has nightmares about it. She is currently prescribed medication to treat her mental health issues. She would like to get counselling, but doesn’t feel quite ready to deal with therapy yet.
When she was 18, Carrie received a small amount of compensation, possibly from victims of crime. She did not have any contact with the girls’ group after she left, but thinks it would have been helpful if they had made an apology.
Carrie noted that having proper counselling and family support when she was young would also have been beneficial. She is not concerned with applying for further compensation, as ‘it’s not about money ... can’t give me back my childhood’.