‘There was no escape … He was just everywhere. When he wasn’t there, you felt like he was there. It was very odd.’
Lynn was only young when her parents separated. At first, she and her siblings were split up and sent to live with different aunts and uncles but they were then returned to their father’s care. In the early 1970s when she was eight, Lynn’s father remarried and they moved to regional New South Wales.
Lynn’s older brother soon grew to dislike their stepmother and this caused a lot of conflict. The siblings were made wards of the state and placed with their grandparents, who were designated as foster carers.
The environment of the new home was okay, but their grandparents were very strict. Their mother only visited once and their father was told to stay away.
In the late 70s, when Lynn was going through puberty, her grandfather became very possessive, and wouldn’t let her do anything without his knowledge or consent. The only escape came when Lynn went to the shops with her grandmother.
‘He just never left me alone. He became physical if I even talked to a boy. I was always in trouble.’
Lynn remembered her grandfather listening in on phone calls and beating her because the boy across the road had whistled at her.
One afternoon when her grandmother was away, Lynn was asked by her grandfather to show him her body. He then moved towards her and touched her genitals. She was frightened, not knowing what was happening and this behaviour continued for four years.
Lynn never told anyone because she felt intimidated by her grandfather who’d threatened to send her to a children’s home if she said anything. She wanted to tell her siblings but felt this was a risk and that no one would believe her.
When she ran away in her mid-teens, Lynn was picked up by the police and a social worker. They didn’t ask what was wrong and she was returned to her grandparents.
‘They’d assume that everything was perfect because my grandmother was.’
Soon after this, Lynn told her grandmother about the abuse. She didn’t believe it and accused her of being on drugs. Lynn then told her mother, who didn’t react. She believes this may have been because her grandfather likely sexually abused her as a child.
When Lynn told her brother, ‘He said, “I know you’re not lying, but I can’t accept it either”. I said that we should just leave it at that because that was enough for me. He knew I wasn’t lying.’
Throughout her teens and adulthood, Lynn has struggled with depression, self-esteem and intimacy. She’s seen many counsellors but is yet to find the right one.
She receives enormous support from her husband and children and is committed to making a difference with her work, and by giving strength and hope to the people she meets.