Corrine's story

Corrine lost her virginity to her father when she was a young girl. Her mother took her to the police station, but the officers told her there was not enough evidence to get a conviction.

Her father was never charged for abusing her, but was later convicted for multiple other sexual assaults on children.

Her parents split up, but the home was still an unsafe place for Corrine. Her mother’s best friend deliberately tipped boiling water over her, and she was badly burned.

This woman was never charged for the assault, and her mother still speaks with her today. After receiving treatment in a burns unit, Corrine was made a ward of the state in the mid-1980s.

She was sent to a children’s group home, in the Central Coast of New South Wales, when she was 11 years old. This meant she was separated from her siblings, which caused ongoing problems in her relationship with them.

The home was on the grounds of a juvenile correctional centre. Girls lived at one end of the facility, boys at the other. Although they were supposed to be supervised by various staff members, this was often not the case.

With no effective adult authority figures, it was ‘survival of the fittest’ for the kids. Their core motto was ‘do to others or have it done to you. So you either had to participate in the shenanigans, or it got done to you.’

The more vulnerable children were subjected to cruelty by the others. One time, Corrine was involved in making a girl with disabilities eat a cockroach, as ‘punishment’ for her snoring at night.

Often the night staff member would leave the children alone to spend time with her boyfriend instead of supervising them. This meant that the boys and girls weren’t kept apart, and sexual activity between them was possible.

If the girls didn’t engage in sexual activity, the more dominant kids would pull their hair and bash them. It was usually other girls forcing them to perform these acts, with the boys being willing participants (‘boys are always after sex’).

‘It was more peer pressure from the girls. ... You’ve got to put his doodle in your mouth, sort of thing. And if you didn’t do it, you suffered the consequences.’

Corrine would perform oral sex on some of the boys. By the age of 12 she was going over the road to the dam, with boys from the home and also the correctional centre, and having unprotected sexual intercourse with them.

Given the history of the children in the home, she thinks it is understandable that they formed ‘relationships of that kind’.

‘When I look back now, I think yeah, so many kids come and go in that place, just about all of us had come from sexual [abuse] backgrounds. That’s all we knew, and so that’s how we survived.’

She believes the staff ‘would have to have known’ some of what went on between the children, if not the extent.

The home was intended as short-term care, and Corrine was placed with various foster carers. At 14 she was fostered to Julie and Chris Payne.

Chris would come into Corrine’s bedroom, and sexually abuse her by touching her genitals. This abuse has recently been reported to police.

She also experienced her first menstrual period there, but did not know what it was. Frightened and embarrassed, she kept it a secret.

Corrine left the home in the late 1980s, when she still 14, and started living with a man in his 20s. Nobody from Community Services supervised where she was living, or checked on her wellbeing.

Corrine later became pregnant to another man, whom she married. She gave birth when she was 17, and had a second child soon after.

Her husband was abusive to her, and by the time they broke up she was a ‘complete mess’. She lost custody of her kids, fracturing their relationship.

Corrine had significant issues with physical intimacy all through her first marriage. She still finds certain things ‘trigger’ her today, causing her to shut down sexually.

Suffering from depression, Corrine became addicted to painkillers. Her second husband, Jason, who came as her support when she met with the Royal Commission, thinks she confuses emotional pain with physical pain.

Corrine has struggled with suicidal ideation at various times in her life, more so when she was younger. She lives with anxiety, and has been prescribed anti-depressant medication. She finds that being open about her experiences, and ‘not ashamed’, helps her healing.

Jason pointed out how hard it can be to find appropriate services for survivors of child sexual abuse, and would like this information to be more readily available in the community.

Corrine and Jason have children together. They encourage their kids not to be ashamed of their bodies, or to only see the human body in a purely sexualised way. Corrine also takes care of her grandkids in a kinship placement, and is determined they never enter the out-of-home care system. They’ve taken in teenagers escaping bad situations too.

Corrine would like an apology from the people who failed in their duty of care to her. ‘No-one has ever, ever said sorry for what happened to me in care when I was a child. I was supposed to be looked after.’

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