Janice is not convinced that the woman she lived with as a child was her real mother. ‘Where I was living … [with the woman] I knew as my mother … was not a good place to be. There was a lot of physical violence. She had children coming in and out of foster care … It was not a very good environment.’
In the mid-1960s, Janice went to stay with a man she was told was her uncle. ‘I stayed with him I think I was about eight, and there was horrific violence … I was sexually abused by that uncle, and the beatings and the mental abuse … it’s like a fog.’
Because of the violent home environments she experienced, Janice began sleeping at a train station in Sydney when she was eight or nine. The police picked her up, and at the police station, one of the officers told her, ‘You’re going to Uncle Stanley. He’ll keep an eye on you’. She believes the officer was the brother of Stanley Harper, the superintendent of a girls’ reformatory.
While she was in custody, Janice kept telling the police and social workers that she didn’t want to go home. ‘I thought, “This is my chance to escape the hellhole”.’ In court, she told the judge that she didn’t want to go home, and she was ‘charged with exposed to moral danger’. She was then sent to the girls’ reformatory.
At the reformatory Janice noticed that one of her friends was always being called to Stanley’s office, and going to his home on the reformatory grounds. She asked her friend what was going on, but ‘she kind of like wouldn’t answer me’. At one stage the friend told Janice that Stanley was helping her to have tattoos removed and arranging for her to have an abortion.
When Janice was about 13 or 14, Stanley made her his assistant, just as her friend had been. She fetched the tea and ran errands for him, instead of going to school. Janice remembers Stanley repeatedly sexually abusing her in his office, and at his home. While he was molesting her, Stanley would tell her that the girls in the home ‘want it. They want sex’.
Stanley’s wife was present when Janice went to his house, where some of the sexual abuse occurred, so Janice is certain that she knew what he was doing with the girls in his care, but she did nothing about it.
‘I’m called to the office again. He’s got me on his lap. He’s molesting me, and … there’s a few times where he’d say things to me [such as], I “hadn’t ripened” … So then, [this day] … he’s on me. He’s raping … I’m trying to fight him off. He’s choking … I can hardly breathe …
‘He’s talking to the wall, “I’ve never done this before. I’ve never done this before. I’ve never done this before” … Next minute, he snaps out of it. He picks me up … drags me into … a little shower recess … I can feel blood and everything running down. I’m in pain … He said, “You shut up or I’ll kill ya”.’
When Stanley took Janice back to her cottage, he told the night shift worker that she’d had a fall, to explain the marks on her.
‘I remember being in the shower. I remember the worker asking, “Are you okay? You okay?” I remember I then went into the bed and I remember she sat with me most of the night, because I was in pain. Then … I don’t remember after that … I don’t remember getting to … [the] hospital block.’
Although the doctor and nurse kept asking her what had happened, ‘I couldn’t tell ‘em … My throat. I don’t even think I could talk because of my throat and I just remember her saying, “Let the doctor touch you”, and then I wouldn’t let him touch me, and then that’s it. I don’t remember anything after that’.
After the rape, Stanley kept asking Janice, ‘“Are you on your period? Are you on your period?” I didn’t understand … I now [understand]’. He was worried that she might be pregnant.
Janice told the Commissioner, ‘I want him to be held accountable for the rape … I always remembered …I always remember the rape … He took my life’.
Janice worries that children are still being sexually abused.
‘When I hear a kid [abused] … at the hand of these monsters, and everybody knows what they’re doing. Family members know and they protect them. And nothing changed from when I was a child to now … and it’s the same in every state. It’s the same [everywhere] … I want it to change.’