Julianne's story

By the time she was molested by Mr Blair, Julianne felt as if she ‘had a target on my head anyway. I knew that was my role in life, to get used’.

Her godfather had touched her inappropriately before, and she blamed herself for any unwanted sexual attention she received. ‘I used to wear short skirts, and that was probably my fault.’

Julianne’s parents were often away, and she was cared for by nannies – ‘they had delusions of grandeur. I don’t know who they thought they were’.

Her father had lots of affairs, and after her parents divorced she was estranged from him for a while. ‘There was not really much of a connection with either of them. He was very scary.’

When she met with the Royal Commission, Julianne described herself as the family’s ‘black sheep’, and ‘pretty useless, really’. By 12 or so, she was self-harming, but no adults in her life ever asked why.

‘Nowadays, if a kid was carving things into their body and doing things like that, they would be thinking “Something might be wrong here”.’

In her early teens, she started misusing over-the-counter drugs (which eventually led to her expulsion from high school). ‘I also had an eating disorder, from pretty much as far as I can remember.’

During the 1960s, she was paid to sing at weddings and to assist with bellringing at an Anglican church. She was around 14 years old, and Blair, the verger and caretaker of the church, seemed to her to be about 70.

Blair was in charge of the bellringers, ‘and always flirted with everybody’. Julianne was often early for practice, and Blair would sexually abuse her in the belltower.

‘Nothing really bad, just, you know, shoved his tongue down my throat, and kissed me and stuff. And then rubbed up against me, and made me touch him and stuff like that. But I don’t know if anyone else got that or not.’

This abuse happened on approximately 10 occasions during the time Julianne assisted Blair with ringing the bells. One time, she told another girl that ‘you don’t want to get up in the belltower with Blair too early’.

The girl ‘seemed to know what I meant’, and replied ‘“You have to understand, that his wife’s been very sick for a long time”. And so I thought, well okay, I just have to grin and bear it’.

As a young adult Julianne had her first child as a result of a short liaison, then married and had more children. ‘I just wanted to be normal and be a mother.’ Although her marriage lasted a long time, it was troubled, and her husband was emotionally and financially abusive. ‘I’ve never really liked men, but I managed to pull it off for most of the time.’

In her late teens and early 20s, Julianne overdosed on heroin, was arrested for drug possession, and drank heavily. Although she has previously attended Alcoholics Anonymous and stayed sober for over a decade, she has now resumed drinking sometimes. Over the last few years she has been in and out of psychiatric facilities to treat her eating disorder.

Julianne recently told a bishop about the abuse by Blair, asking if anyone else had ever said anything about him. He questioned, ‘Why are you only worried about that, when you’ve got all this other crap?’

She has not reported the matter to police, or taken any civil action. Concern that she would be considered a ‘traitor’ by the Church, and ‘they would all hate me’, holds her back from pursuing the matter, although she is no longer involved with the Church.

With Blair deceased, she sees little point in reporting at this stage of her life. ‘I feel scared of being judged. I know that they would just say, “Well you were just a slut, you brought it on” ... I know they would.’

Julianne has an excellent rapport with her psychiatrist and psychologist. ‘I didn’t talk about him [Blair] until maybe last 10 years, ‘cause there were other things that were so much worse.’

Her sons are ‘all okay, from having a crazy mother like me’, and although they tease her and laugh at her (like their father did), their relationship is good. She is also close to her brother and adult granddaughter.

Watching her granddaughter grow up made Julianne realise the significance and impact of her own childhood experiences. ‘When she was 12, 13, 14, she’s so innocent, and by then I was using drugs, I was getting drunk, and self-harming, taking overdoses and all this stuff. And I thought, if anyone did anything to hurt [her] I would fricking kill them.’

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