When Ellen was a small child, she told the police that she witnessed her mother committing a serious crime. They didn’t believe her. They told her parents, ‘“Your daughter’s a storyteller. You really need to control what she’s saying”, and I was sent to an orphanage’.
Ellen was about four when she went to the state-run orphanage in regional Victoria. She suffered nightmares, and when she woke up screaming, ‘I’d be dragged out of that bed, out of that dormitory, by the hair … down all these stairs, to this really big person … And apart from the physical assault, they’d be sticking their fingers inside you’.
Male staff at the orphanage would also force Ellen to touch their genitals in return for extra food, or warm water when she was in the shower.
Because Ellen kept trying to tell people what her mother had done, she was ‘thrown from pillar to post, and ended up being taken to a child psychiatrist, [and] put on medication’. Ellen was given a lot of medication at a young age and ‘according to my child-molesting stepfather, it turned me into a zombie, so that I was just almost in a comatose state’.
When Ellen was a small child, her stepfather would bathe her and her stepsister. ‘He’d be washing her properly, but he’d be washing me down there, and telling me, “This is your wissy. I’m going to be making this feel good for you when you get bigger”. I had no idea what he was talking about and he was not doing that to her.’
When she was at one of her numerous primary schools, Ellen asked another girl ‘was her daddy going to make her wissy feel good for her when she grew up, because that’s what [my stepfather] was telling me’. When the other girl asked her father the question, the girl’s parents wanted to know why Ellen had said that. Ellen and her family moved elsewhere.
Ellen’s mother was aware that her husband was sexually abusing her. ‘She didn’t care. I was a bone to be thrown to whoever she was ditching at the time.’
Ellen told the Commissioner of a lifetime of sexual abuse, from family members, teachers, welfare officers and others. She left Australia at 16, and married young. She returned home several years later, on the run from domestic violence.
‘I’ve spent my life running, because it doesn’t matter where I’ve gone or what I’ve done in my life, I’ve always ended up being raped again … It doesn’t matter what I’ve tried to do in my life to get away from all of this. It seems to follow me.’
Ellen tried to report the sexual abuse she experienced throughout her life, many times. ‘I told everyone … No one would believe me. I had run away to the police that many times that it was crazy.’
Every time Ellen tried to speak up about the sexual abuse, she ended up in a psychiatric hospital. ‘[They’d say] I had a mental problem … and I needed to be kept sedated so that I didn’t go round telling people this stuff.
‘The amount of times I’ve tried to take my life in the past to stop this pain, and I’ve always failed, every time. I just want the pain to stop.’
Ellen told the Commissioner, ‘They need to listen … If those police had listened to me as a little girl, I wouldn’t be in this screwed up life that I’m in now’.