‘It’s never been enormously overriding; it’s only in the last few years that these things rise up and hit me in the face. I’ve got to go and go in my little safe place and play my computer games. And block the world out.’
Kate is in her 60s and has always wondered why she felt different to others. She’d never married or had children, nor had a relationship or sex. She said she couldn’t ‘play that game’ because ‘it’s too scary’. She was 19 in the early 1960s when she decided life was ‘happy’ and comfortable when she was alone.
Kate had been made a ward of the state in the late 1940s. She was told her birth mother struggled to raise a large family as a single parent, and Kate was placed in a girls’ home in South Australia when she was 15 months old. She stayed there until the age of three and then moved to live with a foster family, remaining with them until her early 20s. She has never reconnected with her biological family.
As an adult, Kate became an Anglican nun. She enjoyed helping people and has dedicated her life to helping others, but is ‘glad to see them go’ after church services. She said she has always felt ‘unloved’ and unworthy of love or affection from others. Physical contact makes her anxious and she has always questioned why she ‘can’t stand’ people touching her.
Kate told the Commissioner that she had no ‘absolute memory’ of what happened to her at the girls’ home. She attended a reunion of the home in the late 1980s when she was in her 30s and was shocked to hear stories told by other residents. Kate discovered who had been abused, which staff members were paedophiles and heard stories of girls being locked away for days at a time. She also said she felt an ‘eerie uncomfortable feeling’ when she saw the hospital beds and iron cots at the home.
It wasn’t until the mid-2010s that Kate believed she had been abused as a baby. She said ‘the missing pieces of the puzzle came together’ when she attended a Working with Children training day. Kate was asked to discuss the symptoms of a baby who had been sexually abused but she broke down and had to leave the room.
Kate attended counselling and during this process felt the suspicions she had that she’d been sexually abused had been confirmed. She said further counselling is something she’d like to pursue.
Kate came to the Royal Commission in the hope of getting closure on what happened to her as a baby. She said that being able to talk about her issues has given her clarity and understanding of the nature of child sexual abuse. She commended the Royal Commission for ‘providing a voice for those who don’t have a voice’.