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Chrissie's story

Chrissie was married to a violent man for over 20 years and together, they had several children and raised them in a rural town in Queensland. When her youngest was four years old, Chrissie discovered that her husband had sexually abused all their children. In the mid-2000s, she decided to leave her husband and took her children away.

She told the Commissioner that her eldest children denied their father’s sexual abuse and refused to go to and see a counsellor. However, she made appointments for her three youngest children as she believed they were the most affected. Jemima, her second youngest child, was not doing well and exhibited aggressive behaviour.

She booked counselling sessions for her children and arranged appointments with doctors to get ‘final’ diagnoses on her kids. Chrissie was appalled when the police said that the several cases of abuse were ‘fictional fantasies’. She also said that the counsellor and doctor confirmed that her children had endured child sexual abuse, but she felt this was overlooked.

In the early 2010s, Jemima, who was then a teenager, was admitted to hospital. She had spent two days locked in her room at home and wouldn’t come out to eat. Chrissie said Jemima ‘severely self-harmed’ and was uncontrollable. She told the Commissioner that at the hospital, caseworkers from the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability services came to examine Jemima. Chrissie was told that she ‘needed help’ in raising her children, and the department took her three youngest children into state care.

Jemima has been suicidal, often self-harms and is prone to ‘aggressive outbursts’. Jemima was placed into foster care from the early 2010s. Chrissie was able to regain care of her other two daughters, but was told by the department that Jemima did not want to see her and has not disclosed her whereabouts.

Chrissie’s eldest daughter went to visit Jemima one weekend in 2014 and Jemima told her that she had been sexually abused by a foster carer when she was on a ‘weekend getaway’ in respite care. Jemima was 14 years old.

Chrissie was informed by Jemima’s foster carer that they reported the man who abused her to the police and that he had been charged. However, Chrissie contacted the local police and discovered no report had been made, nor any charges.

Since this disclosure, Jemima attempted suicide again. Chrissie was told that her foster carer ‘couldn’t cope’ with having her and so Jemima was transferred to residential care. Chrissie was able to have contact with her daughter for a period of time, but the Department recently ceased this interaction. Chrissie would like to get full disclosure of the abuse Jemima endured as a ward of the state, but is unable to talk to her daughter.

Chrissie is currently engaged in legal actions against the department to have her children returned to her.

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