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Marci's story

‘For some reason I used to attract heroin addicts like flies. I seemed to be, and this was for all of them, a magnet that you could belt and abuse.

‘When you’re getting bashed every day, and you don’t think you’re going to make it out of there alive, the only thing you can do is pray … I used to pray so hard, every day and every night, for however long it took.

'My husband’s father had my grave dug in his backyard. The police found it. So it’s all true. He had my grave dug in his backyard. One day my husband was just going to hit me and I was just going to go.’

Marci’s life has been free of abusers for the past 15 years. It has been hard-earned after a challenging life, starting with a complex childhood of violence and sexual abuse.

In the early 1960s, Marci was born into what became a large family. Her father was violent and a drunk. Marci saw her mother being bashed numerous times, and on some occasions, stand up to her father. She can remember her mother confronting him because she suspected he was sexually abusing Marci’s sister Judith. For that, their father bashed their mother and pulled out his guns on her. ‘He’d rather blow my mother’s brains out … than face up to what he did.’

When the parents separated, the children were left in their father’s care. After several months he told Marci to call a children’s home because he couldn’t look after them. At the age of 12, Marci was sent to a government-run children’s home, along with Judith. The other siblings were sent to another home.

Marci felt safe there. They had clean clothes and good food, and she was grateful. However, at night time, other girls would get into her bed and ‘have their way’.

‘I wish things like that didn’t happen. I really do because it’s left a nasty scar on my brain … it wasn’t a horrible thing, it wasn’t as horrific as my father. Just kids growing up, experimenting … That’s how I’d like to look at it anyway.’ Marci believes those girls meant no harm. ‘I’m sure those girls have moved on.’

On weekends, Marci was sent back to the care of her father. During one particular weekend visit, he raped her. For Marci, this was a bloody, painful and confusing experience. She was too scared to report it, but back at the children’s home, she said that had belted her, and that she didn’t want to go back there anymore.

Meanwhile, Judith, who was in a different section of the children’s home, was sexually abused by a male staff member called Nathan. She disclosed this to Marci many years later. She also disclosed that their father had raped her on a number of occasions, from the age of eight.

It was Judith who encouraged Marci to contact the Royal Commission. She wanted Marci to report Nathan. However, following that conversation with her sister, Judith took her own life. It was very difficult for Marci to get to her private session and her sister was the main reason she made it. Marci still blames herself for not standing up to her father in relation to her sister. She knew her mother couldn’t keep doing it. She had ‘so many gun barrels down her mouth’.

After two years in the children’s home, Marci lived with her paternal grandmother. By that stage, her education had been so severely affected she couldn’t cope with high school.

‘I had a very good marriage. I had a very good husband. But when my daughter was born all I wanted to do, and I did do it, was pick her up and run with her, so that what happened throughout my life, it was not going to happen to her. And yet it did happen. One day I come home and she was abused [by another partner] … And he bashed my child. She was only 12 months old.’

Marci finally sent the last abusive man in her life packing. That was 15 years ago. Years prior to that, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which she successfully manages with medication. She also used to be psychotic, ‘always seeing blood’, but she has since recovered. ‘It’s so easy to go home and commit suicide. Really, put it all behind me and forget … But that’s not the way life is. And I have my own family now and I’m always trying to move ahead for them.’

Marci believes in God and her faith has given her strength throughout her life. ‘My belief, my love for life has gotten stronger as I’ve got older.’ She also has a very good friend she can talk to. She doesn’t want to be in a relationship anymore. She’s not seeking compensation either.

‘I really am hoping today to close the book. Let my father rest in peace. He can argue it out with God and let me handle the ghosts. I think it’s about time.’

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