‘Thank God that you have come now because this has been in my life, on my mind all my life and he’s the person I wouldn’t have been able to stand up to in the earlier days.’
From the ages of four to 14, Felicity was in and out of a Catholic girls’ home in Queensland. She first entered as a state ward in the early 1960s and for various periods before she turned 18 she lived in the girls’ home, with a foster family and in various government-run Aboriginal girls’ hostels.
As well as being subjected to beatings in the girls’ home, Felicity was sexually abused by one of the nuns, Sister Geraldine. In her written submission and private session Felicity described Sister Geraldine coming into her dormitory and sitting on her bed. ‘[She was] caressing me and moved her hand into my pants and starts stroking my vagina. This occurred on three occasions.’
Aged 11 at the time of the abuse, Felicity disclosed what had happened to two visiting staff from children’s services. She also told them about one of the other nuns who was the main person inflicting the beatings. Soon afterwards that nun was moved away, and Sister Geraldine was promoted to Mother Superior, a position which effectively limited her contact with children.
At 14, Felicity was fostered out to stay with a couple, Juliet and Gerard Hudson. During her time with the couple, Felicity was sexually abused by Gerard Hudson on a regular basis. The abuse started with Hudson rubbing Felicity’s leg under the table and ‘progressed to touching me and masturbating and fondling’.
Felicity tried to tell Juliet what was happening, but didn’t have words to describe it. ‘I told her that I had a crush on him, ‘cause that’s the only way I could explain it, you know, what was going on … I feel stupid for saying it like that whereas when I kept thinking about it you know, it wasn’t all my doing.’
Soon after this conversation, Felicity was taken by Juliet to the first of several hostels in which she would live during the next few years. Felicity stayed in contact with the Hudsons and a year or so later rang Gerard at his office and asked him for money. He told her to meet him after work and after giving Felicity $15, offered to drive her home. On the way there he again sexually abused her.
Felicity told the Commissioner that she’d felt the effects of the abuse throughout her life. She’d used ‘soft drugs’ and alcohol as means of escape, her education had been limited, and ‘it’s stuffed my whole sex life’.
‘I fell pregnant. It’s just how life unwound you know, from wanting to get away from one situation you get in another situation.’
She described other effects including difficulty in parenting. One of her children was now dependent on drugs.
‘I never trust anyone. I’ve taught my children not to trust anyone and that more or less has stuffed my children, my son especially, because I wanted him to be a jet pilot. He flew high all right. It’s not a joke, it’s how it is.’
Felicity’s first disclosure of the abuse had been to one of her sisters. Then in the 1990s, she participated in the Queensland Forde Inquiry and received $21,000 compensation.
‘They told us we’d have no chance with the Church – you know, you’re better off signing it and you know you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth when you come from nothing and that’s put on a plate. I took it, yeah, you know. At first I felt guilty but I thought, oh bugger it.’
In the early 1990s, Felicity had rung Gerard Hudson and asked for financial help to pay her rent.
‘He said, “What, are you trying to blackmail me?” I said, “No, you were the one” – these are the words that I come out with – “that took advantage of the situation, eh, when I was a kid”.
‘And you know I was that angry because he said that I was trying to blackmail him. That wasn’t my intention. If I was going to blackmail him, I would have gone, I would have actually done this way back then. And I just hung the phone up out of shock, eh, because this is somebody I actually did feel for.
‘And today you all call it grooming; back then it was molesting, interfering, paedophilia, yeah. And I been arguing with myself all my life what to do about it and you come along at the right time. I don’t hate him, I just, he should have just apologised because I’m an old girl now and I’m kind of getting over it, but it’s the mind thing.
‘As you get older you kind of just let it go you know. You ask God to forgive ‘em, but we’re brought up Catholic and brainwashed and that, but he took advantage of me and I’d like him to be charged.’