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Luna's story

From a very young age, Luna and her siblings were raised by their grandmother in Victoria. When Luna was three in the late 1950s, her grandmother was no longer capable of looking after all the children, so Luna was placed in a Catholic girls’ orphanage.

Luna’s earliest memories of life there are from bath time. The nuns were supposed to supervise the children, but this seldom happened. Left to their own devices, the older girls would abuse the younger ones by inserting things into their vaginas, which caused infections and had to be removed. The attitude of the older girls was that it had happened to them, so why not continue the tradition?

‘The girls that used to bath you, the older ones, they’d put things up the vagina and all that – toys, sticks, stones, everything. It used to hurt.’

Harsh punishment was frequently meted out for very small misdemeanours. In addition to regular beatings, Luna recalled being locked in a wardrobe for up to three days at a time, seeing light only when meals were brought to her.

‘You’d get punished for only little things, get locked in the wardrobe for two or three days in the dark. Just depends on what the crime was. You wet the bed, you were in the wardrobe, or whacked. Things like that.’

Luna recalled, when clergy came to visit the orphanage, she would be required to sit on their laps without any underwear on. The priests would molest her while telling her it was their secret. Luna believes the nuns knew ‘but they didn’t do anything about it’.

‘They just used to do what they wanted to do. And that was mainly because you were told it was a secret. Because nobody wanted you, they were allowed to do that. And you just went along. You didn’t know any different. It was just part of your life.’

At the age of six, Luna was fostered out to the Porter family. Mr and Mrs Porter fostered several children, and while they ‘adored’ the boys, they treated the girls as ‘slaves’. Both physically, emotionally and sexually abused Luna, but by this point she had become so ‘brainwashed’ that she didn’t even know she was being abused.

Luna recalls receiving visits from welfare workers up until she was about nine, but they would always give advance notice. The Porters made sure to dress Luna in long jumpers to cover the bruises and were always present during the interview. Luna had no one she could talk to about the abuse, and didn’t feel she would be believed if she tried. ‘I didn’t talk much. I held everything in … Nobody would believe you.’

Over time, Luna became estranged from her grandmother and was drawn further into the life of the Porter family. At the age of 14, the Porters formally adopted Luna without consulting her, and she’d become so accustomed to their treatment she didn’t know any better. ‘I was one of those kids that nobody wants.’

It was around this time that Luna made the first of several attempts to take her own life. At one stage Mr Porter told Luna he wanted her to bear his children because they were not genetically related; but fortunately this never eventuated.

Luna stayed with the Porters into her adult life and continued to be abused by them until the Porters died in the late 1980s. They left her their house in their will, but because of the ‘disgusting’ things they had done to her for more than 20 years, she said that ‘I couldn’t stay there’.

As an adult Luna has not had any sexual relationships and has no friends. About 10 years ago she first disclosed her abuse history to a psychiatrist, but by this time her abusers were dead and she had developed a range of psychological and physical health problems.

Luna has a history of offending and recently entered the correctional system, but as a result of her childhood punishment of being isolated in a dark cupboard she has an intense fear of being placed in a small cell. She receives psychological intervention in prison but still has difficulty talking about what happened to her.

‘I know I’m going to have the mental problems for the rest of my life, no matter what I try to do.’

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