Peg Maree's story

Peg doesn’t know how old she was when she was put into a Catholic orphanage in Queensland in the 1940s, only that she was very young.

Her mother had many children and most were made wards of the state. Peg had some contact with her father who was an American serviceman and ‘a good father when I got to know him’.

Peg recalled being treated badly by staff in the orphanage. As well as locking her in a wardrobe, ‘they used to drag you by the hair and ears and that’. She said that while she was in the orphanage she was sexually abused by a priest she remembers as being ‘really tall’.

After leaving the orphanage Peg married a man who physically and sexually abused her and their children. She felt that after her childhood, ‘you don’t get out of abusive things’, and ‘you can’t get away from it’.

She knew of various family members who’d been sexually abused. They included her brothers while in a boys’ home and a granddaughter in the family home.

‘See you’ve been brought up in an environment of abuse, it always seems to grow up with you no matter who you’re with or what you see. You’re always in that; you can’t get out of that circle, know what I mean? It’s stuck with you. You think, “Oh gee, that’s a nice person”. Find out that’s not a nice person. They’re something else, you know?’

Peg recommended that the media be prevented from showing the faces of child sex offenders on television.

‘It’s got to be stopped’, she said. ‘Especially parents these days they always leave the kids to sit in front of the telly while they’re busy and then all these child molesters coming up on the telly … just going round and round in a circle. When are we going to stop it? I got the strength. I can get up there and stop it very quickly.’

Whenever she saw a ‘rapist’ or ‘child molester’ on television, Peg went ‘ballistic’.

‘Please stop them child molesters, paedophiles and that being put on TV. Put the story to the telly but don’t put the person for the little kids saying, “Look Mummy”.’

Peg said she didn’t think ‘all the priests is wrong’ and still found ‘it’s nice to go to church’.

Although she had health problems she believed it was important not to talk about them too much with other people.

‘And peace of mind, you make peace of mind yourself. You do not burden that person. You don’t burden that person even if you can’t get around it.’

She said she had a way of dealing with stress and managing the times when she felt troubled.

‘I hop in the car. I set out on the highway or something and I just play the music.’

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