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Immie's story

Immie was born into a wealthy family in Melbourne in the mid-1960s. Her parents were teachers at two different Catholic private schools, and she was brought up to be a good girl and do as she was told. She told the Commissioner that she was never taught to ‘have agency’ of her own body or to have ‘physical boundaries’.

In the early 70s, Immie’s Grade 4 teacher was Bryan Carney. For three years she was sexually abused by him in the classroom. She said that she used to sit on his lap while he digitally penetrated her. Immie’s classmates would either keep watch or turn their backs.

‘There was one person at the door, watching the door, there was another girl waiting for her turn and there was me sitting on his lap … But there were plenty of other times when there were girls being tickled by him at the front. He would be positioned so we couldn’t see the girl. He could pretty much do whatever he liked in that room.’

Immie said that she never felt Carney touching her was ‘a bad thing’. To this day, she firmly believes that the teachers and parents knew what he was doing. She recalls a police report being made in the early 1970s, but nothing was done. The abuse ceased when Immie’s family took her on an ‘impromptu’ trip overseas. She was 11 years old.

When Immie returned Carney had been transferred and she began high school soon after. She said that she often had difficulty concentrating, and remembers ‘acting out’ on two occasions where she broke a broom and smashed a window. No one ever asked her why. Immie’s parents responded to her behaviour by moving her to another school.

She progressed into adulthood without understanding what it meant to ‘own’ her body. She said it took a long time to fully appreciate that fact. The ‘thousands of intimate relationships’ with her friends have helped her find herself. Immie also took part in role-play in bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism clubs which ‘connected’ with her experience of the abuse. She said it was a ‘healing process’.

When Immie was in her 30s, she began to experience ‘body memories’ of the abuse, where the pain ‘took over’ her body. But while there were flashbacks, she also had ‘lots of blanks’ about her childhood and still has doubts about the abuse because no one believed her.

‘There’s a voice in my head that says you’re lying, it’s a created memory. We can’t believe you because you’re crazy.’

Immie has been married and divorced multiple times. She has had two children who both suffer from mental health issues. Immie ‘can’t connect’ with her children because her focus has been on her own healing. She doesn’t have much contact with her son and is also estranged from her parents because ‘they failed to protect’ her from the abuse.

Immie reported Carney to the police in the late 90s and attended his trial the following year. He pleaded guilty to several counts of indecent assault and was sentenced to two years in prison. In the mid-2010s he was convicted of further charges and received a similar sentence.

Immie was extremely dissatisfied with his sentencing and no longer believes the law is about ‘right and wrong’. She described Carney as a ‘snake’ and said that he deserved more time in jail for his crimes.

Living with her daughter in a small community has helped Immie move forward. She said that causing ‘minimal impact’ to the planet is a choice she’s proud to make. Immie enjoys writing song lyrics and has a strong focus on her spirituality.

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