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Pru's story

Pru and her brother were taken from their parents as infants in the early 1960s, separated from their siblings, and put into the care of the state. They were placed with foster parents Edwina and Charles Hoover, who also had other foster kids.

It was supposed to be a short-term placement, while their mum was in hospital, but the Hoovers ‘kidnapped’ them. The family moved around a lot, and often they would live in remote parts of Queensland. Pru remembers being enrolled in a number of schools under different names.

Edwina treated all of the children cruelly. They were made to hold onto electric fences, and drink animal blood, and had their faces rubbed in cat faeces. ‘It’s not what I went through, mate, I’ll tell you what kills you. It’s watching the others go through it, and you can’t do anything.’

Pru can’t recall as much about these times as some of her foster siblings.

‘They remember more than me. I escaped reality back then, by going into my own little world. And my own little world was only ever based on love.’

The children never received any affection from their foster parents. ‘The Hoovers used to tell us kids all the time, youse are nobodies, you’ll never be anybody ... They never once told us they loved us. Correction, they probably did when the Welfare was there. That’s the only time we would have heard it.’

In hindsight, Pru wonders about the upbringing that Edwina and Charles had themselves. ‘This is my excuse for them, because I can’t find any other thing to comprehend or understand where they were coming from. But obviously they’ve never had a role model.’

Charles sexually abused Pru on a number of occasions. Pru ran away and reported the abuse to police when she was 13 years old. The Hoovers attended the police station and told the officers that Pru was lying. The police allowed them to take her home.

The matter went before a court. However, Pru’s foster parents manipulated her into retracting her allegations about Charles. The judge then lectured her about telling lies.

It wasn’t until her teens that Pru discovered Edwina and Charles were not her biological parents. She and her brother found a letter from Children’s Services, stating that they should be returned to the state, but she does not know why this didn't happen.

After running away again in her mid-teens, Pru had other placements, and lived with her biological dad for a while. ‘He was beautiful. I was proud he was my father.’

At 17 she married a much older man, and they had children, but she didn’t stay with him for long. ‘I don’t trust men to stay with them. And I certainly wouldn’t have them around my children.’

Her next marriage was also short-lived. Her husband was an aggressive man, who got into fights and trouble with the law. ‘That’s why we got together I suppose. He was troublesome too, he never had a fucking upbringing. He never had no parents.’

She left him because she did not want her children to be influenced by him, ‘and see, I could never get on with a male anyway’.

The wellbeing of her children is paramount to Pru. ‘I tried to compensate my past by not having my children in the same mind frame’, and it is especially vital they know they are loved. ‘You know what’s important when you’ve never had it.’

When her kids were little, she found herself a counsellor. ‘That wasn’t for me. That was actually because I wanted to be a mother ... My son, when he was in Grade 1, didn’t want Mummy you know, it was a shame job hugging Mummy.’

So she went to ‘to try and get advice, because all I wanted to be was a good mother. That’s all’. Her therapist helped her recognise patterns in her relationship with the children’s father, who kept kicking her out, and how ‘he had to put up with me, because I never dealt with my issues’.

She was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder when her kids were younger. The medication she was prescribed made her feel physically sick, so she stopped taking it after a short while. ‘I started getting into my own counselling, which is positive thinking. I still do it today.’

Pru is proud of the way her kids turned out, ‘considering that I never had a figure to look up to, either male or female’. She told the Commissioner, ‘You’d love them mate. They’re all decent, respectable people. They wouldn’t go out and harm anyone ... and they try to better themselves’.

Receiving her wardship file as an adult was difficult for her, as she did not understand why so many details pertaining to her life had been blacked out. This has added to her anger about her past, and the lack of intervention to prevent her being abused by Edwina and Charles.

Pru shared her experiences with the Royal Commission after one of her siblings told her she needed to ‘get this story out’. She hoped people reading her story would learn from what happened to her, and it would inspire them to listen to kids when they speak up about abuse. ‘People do need to read it. Not for me, but so that [they] can maybe take notice of the children.’

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