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Felicity's story

Growing up in regional Victoria as one of the youngest in a large ‘dysfunctional’ family, Felicity has few memories of feeling loved and cared for as a child. She recalled being a bright student nearing the end of primary school in the late 1960s, when a teacher, Mr Fielding, took an interest in her.

Felicity told the Commissioner, ‘He made me his pet, gave me responsibilities, he asked me to go around and babysit while he and his wife were home. Every time she left the room, he’d kiss me and touch me. We’d be at the drive-in and she’d go for food, he’d be straight in the back seat with me. He’d abuse me in his office at school as well. Looking back at photos, I was a pretty little girl, but that’s not an excuse’.

The abuse included digital penetration, and Felicity didn’t understand what was happening.

‘I was quite naive, I knew nothing about sexual stuff at all. I’d try to talk to my mother, but she’d say, “You’ll learn that at school”. I was basically free to do what I wanted as a child. He was very cagey, I thought I’d done something wrong. The boys at school would tease me and I wonder if they knew what was happening to me. The girls were nasty to me as well.’

Family difficulties led to Felicity leaving high school early.

‘It was pretty full-on, my life just went from trauma to trauma, I had very few skills as the pattern goes. I moved to Sydney, mixed with wrong people, fell in a dark hole, and I didn’t care. I think I disassociated from it so much that I didn’t want to admit it to myself, let alone anyone else. I managed to complete a degree as a single mum in my 40s, and I’m very proud of that. I did the best I could, I just wanted to be shown as good somehow.’

After the death of a close family member, Felicity sought professional help in the early 2010s.

‘I said nothing about the abuse for 44 years … But it just got to the point where I got so over being depressed. For five years I hadn’t had a relationship. I feel like why shouldn’t I have a good partner? Why am I picking those rotten men, the ones who abuse you? And what had Mr Fielding done to others? … I didn’t feel like I fitted anywhere, and couldn’t go on without talking about it.’

Felicity was diagnosed with post- traumatic stress disorder.

‘I’ve been a good actor, I’ve helped others not myself … it took a long time to talk about my sexual abuse.’

By telling her story, Felicity hopes to raise awareness of sexual abuse within the community.

‘It’s not just in church, it happens in schools too. I used to think, “Why did that happen to me, what did I do wrong?” I felt so useless. Then I think, I was 11, I was a kid.’

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