Kat’s mother was a teenager in the mid 1980s when Kat was born. She never knew her biological father. Kat’s stepfather, Ray was a violent man who abused and raped his wife, which Kat witnessed from an early age.
Born with a learning disability, Kat was often bullied and victimised by other children. As she told the Commissioner, ‘I was always a misfit, didn’t have too many friends’.
When Kat was eight years old her mother finally left Ray, and even though she fought hard to keep Kat and her siblings, the Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved a year later. ‘I was nine years old when they got me.’
At the age of 14 Kat became the subject of a Custody to the Secretary Order which continued until she was 18. ‘The workers told me that my mum didn’t want me, and that she was sick and that she didn’t want me at home.’
After being taken from her mother, Kat was placed in numerous hostels and foster homes, many of which were unsafe. It was at one of the hostels that she met the ‘wrong’ people.
‘When I was in child protection, I met the wrong girls and the wrong girl conned me into a house party. She told me that she was having a dinner with her boyfriend and his mate at his parents’ house. It was a double, they wanted to do some sort of like double-date or something. So I went ...
‘And it turned out that girl conned me and I was actually gang raped in that house by her boyfriend and his mate while she sat there watching. That’s how I lost my virginity.’
During her time in care Kat was sexually abused by a DHS worker. She told the Commissioner, ‘I’ve always had problems with my relationships because I’ve seen all the cruelty, I’ve seen all the abuse, and I’ve never seen the good …
‘When you’ve watched your mum go through that, and then you’ve been molested, and then not even six months later after you’re molested you’re called by a girl, all you really want is a friend. When that happens, how are you gonna know any better if you haven’t seen good?’
In spite of the Department being aware of Ray’s violence and his estrangement with Kat’s mother, Kat was eventually placed in his care at which point he immediately began sexually abusing her. ‘They knew he’d beat, bashed and raped my mum. They knew the history.’
Kat disclosed Ray’s abuse to her siblings but they responded by attempting to bribe him. Kat also made reports to the police, but told the Commissioner they wouldn’t take her claims seriously.
Now in her thirties, Kat told the Commissioner that she struggles with borderline personality and post-traumatic stress disorders. ‘It really has impacted me. I have felt dumb. I have felt useless, worthless. I don’t feel attractive.’
Kat is deeply mistrustful of all government organisations, in particular the DHS and the systems put in place for child protection.
‘I could never trust a DHS worker. A mission worker? No worries. Why? ‘Cause they’re a non-government organisation. Government organisations is very hard to trust when it comes to workers, because they use the government and they bend it to their way and make out the child is the problem when they’re the real problem …
‘Department of Human Service, right. Child Protection. When you tell them there’s abuse they don’t look at it, investigate it. They throw you in a psych ward. Make out you’re the problem. And then they just move that worker out of the house, place them in another place to reoffend and re-abuse.’
In spite of her traumatic start in life, Kat is determined to make a life that is better for herself and her future children.
‘I’m gonna be different. When I have my child, my child’s gonna have everything I never had, everything my mother never had and everything my nanna never had. Because I’ve learned from them not to make their mistakes and I’ve learned from everybody … because I want to better myself …
‘I had the schools and everyone tell me I’m dumb all the time, making out that I’m stupid … I want to prove the whole entire world including the government wrong. I want to prove to everybody … just because I have a disability and I’ve had struggles and all these massive problems and sexual confusion because of abuse, I’m not gonna let it get me down.’
‘I want to prove to the whole world, including my family that I am not a no-hoper.’