Evia's story

‘My mum had alcohol problems. She dumped me and my sister into this shed and put a padlock and went to the pub and forgot all about it, and then my dad came back from somewhere and saw the lock and, thinking “Hope the baby’s not in there”. And he broke the door down and got us out, angry with my mum.’

Evia was three years old in the mid-1970s when her parents separated and she and her sisters became wards of the state in Western Australia. Her parents both had alcohol and drug dependencies, so the Child Welfare Department sent Evia to live with her grandmother, Lois Miller, while her sisters were sent elsewhere.

Lois had two sons – Evia’s uncles – who would often visit, and at times live, at her house. They began sexually abusing Evia as soon as she arrived. This continued for the duration of her wardship. ‘I got two uncles, that’s how it started. And they did it right up till I was 18.’

Lois Miller’s partner, a man by the name of Ben Walsh, would often visit Lois’s home. Walsh began abusing Evia when she was very young. When she was 13, Evia recalled she became pregnant from Walsh raping her and later miscarried. Because she had become accustomed to abuse from the age of three, Evia did not know at the time that his actions were criminal. ‘I was pregnant when I was 13 … I didn’t thought nothing of it, it happened when I was three.’

During her wardship, Evia had a case manager by the name of Rhonda. At one stage Evia disclosed that she was being sexually abused but the complaint was never pursued. ‘I did tell the person growing up but they didn’t take me serious enough.’

Evia recalled that going to school was a welcome respite. ‘I felt more happy at the school than going home.’

She reached Year 10 but did not progress any further. In 1991, when she was 17, she was attending vocational training when one of her friends noticed the bruises on her body. They offered to support her if she decided to report the abuse to the police, but at the time Evia did not feel comfortable doing so. ‘To me all the stuff I’ve been through, I’ve gotta keep it to myself.

‘Because you don’t have your mum and your dad in your life, it’s just that sometimes, especially male, you’re looking at them like your dad figure. ‘Cause I missed my childhood, and it’s sort of like I got robbed.’

Evia managed to block out much of the abuse she suffered until later in her adulthood. She now recognises her childhood was not normal and believes her life could have been much better if it weren’t for her extended family pushing her around and ‘interfering’.

‘Sometime I do think back, I could’ve done something a bit more better.’

Now in her 40s, Evia has a significant history of mental illness and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She has been prescribed medication by a psychiatrist, and noted that although the side effects are undesirable, she may be required to continue taking medication her whole life.

Evia did not tell the Commissioner what became of her uncles but did reveal that Ben Walsh has since passed away, and there would be no value in reporting him to the police. ‘I got told that he did it to his own kids as well. Lois Miller did know that, she didn’t break up with him … She supported him, she didn’t support me.’

Evia has adult children but is no longer with their father. Because of her mental health issues her children spent time in care when they were young, but she has a very strong relationship with them to this day. Evia has been with her current husband, who is very supportive, for many years. She regards her children and her husband as the driving forces that keep her strong. ‘My kids keep me going, very strong and then my husband there.’

Content updating Updating complete