Lindal's story

Lindal was born in the late 1950s. For reasons she could never understand, she and her siblings were taken away from their parents when she was five years old.

They were placed in a New South Wales orphanage, then in a foster family. Her foster father Daniel Damer, was a Sunday school superintendent. He sexually abused Lindal.

‘I was probably about eight years old where he just felt me, touched me. And it built from there where he was taking me for drives out into the bush. He’d strip me down. He’d do this ritual thing where he’d feel me up and make me smell it, and it ended up where he ejaculated over the top of me.’

Lindal told the Commissioner that Mr Damer progressed the abuse to penetration when she was about 11. He also sexually abused his own daughter. Lindal said that she didn't know this behaviour was wrong and started boasting about it at school. This backfired and people started treating her with extreme cruelty. No one at school, including the teachers, wanted to hear her side of the story.

The sexual abuse continued until Lindal was 12, when she was sent back to the orphanage with her siblings (except for her younger brother who stayed with the foster family). Lindal said that no one in charge of her welfare questioned whether it was a good idea to send Lindal back to the Damer’s home during the school holidays. After Lindal confronted him, Mr Damer apologised and stopped his abusive behaviour.

Lindal is convinced that it is impossible to detect child sexual abusers. ‘They’re just like every person. All the reports in my welfare department file are glowing reports of the Damer family.’

The impact on her life was devastating, including problems with alcohol and depression. Lindal was in and out of juvenile detention because she regularly absconded from care. She said her relationships with men suffered in the past because she only knew how to have sex with them. She thought that was how you got affection.

Lindal has disclosed her story to many people now and has found that this has helped other survivors along the way. She said, ‘I have helped a lot of people by telling my story, because I have been very open with my story’.

She says that she knows where Mr Damer lives and that he has not been made accountable to this day. She has received no admission from the authorities of the crimes committed against her. ‘What hurts me more than the actual crime is the fact that no one would fight for me.’

In the early 1980s, Lindal’s life changed for the better when she heard the music in a Wesleyan Methodist church and went in. She said that the church members helped her and her children and became her family.

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