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Rachael's story

As a 10-year-old in the mid-2000s, Rachael was abandoned by her mother, a drug addict. Queensland child protection services put her in the care of her biological father, Jack, who raped her.

‘I didn’t really have a childhood after that.’

Recently turned 20, Rachael spoke to the Commissioner from a Queensland correctional centre. It was her second time in jail. She’d been in lockdown 22 hours a day, with nothing to do except think. Her father’s assault had been much on her mind. ‘I had a mental breakdown the other day about it. And I said, “I need to fuckin’ get this out. I need to talk to somebody about this”.’

She’d tried to talk about it before, to different psychologists. ‘It just wasn’t helping. I couldn’t do it.’ Now, though, she felt ready to share her story. ‘I think I need to, so I’m just going to tell you’, she said.

One day after primary school Rachael had gone to the shops and missed the school bus home. She’d called Jack and asked him to collect her. He’d picked her up and taken her to his friend’s place. A drinking and card-playing session got underway, and it lasted throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Eventually Rachael took herself off to bed, joining her stepmother who was already asleep in one of the bedrooms. She was lying in bed cuddling her stepmother when her father came into the room.

‘So he’s pulled my pants down and he’s inserted his fingers in my vagina. I was in shock. I was just laying there, with my stepmother in the bed. She knew what was going on … Then he pushed my body up against his body and inserted his penis in my arse.’

The abuse lasted about half an hour, and left Rachael injured and bleeding.

‘I didn’t want to shower, I didn’t want to eat. I just sat in the room … And for it to be my own father – it’s just a whole real fucked up shit.’

Several days passed before Rachael felt able to act.

‘I thought, what the fuck am I going to do? I don’t have a mum to turn to right now, I don’t really have anyone to turn to. So I’ve gone to the police and I’ve sat up there for an hour, two hours, and I’ve spoken to them in tears. I said, “I don’t understand what’s happened – was it right, was it wrong, what was it?”’, Rachael recalled.

‘I thought, these people need to help me. I need to get the fuck out of my father’s … I said, “Listen, this is what’s happened, I need youse to do something about it”.’

The police took Rachael to hospital. She needed multiple stitches. She stayed there for several weeks, while she recovered. Both police and hospital staff treated her well, she said. She was given 24-hour police protection. ‘I was scared … Still to this day now I have flashbacks of it. And it’s just fucked up.’

Rachael’s father was arrested for the assault. When the matter came to trial, Rachael chose to give her evidence in court, with him sitting across the room from her. ‘I wanted to show him how much he actually hurt me. I wanted to make him feel like a fucking dog.’ He pleaded not guilty to the charges, which made the process even harder for Rachael. ‘It traumatised me’, she said.

‘He sat in court and denied it … And I just looked at him, and I said, “You make me sick. Look what you did to me. Look what you did to my life. You fucked it. You ruined it”. And he did.’

Jack was convicted and jailed for 18 months – not long enough, Rachael felt. ‘They need to bring the death penalty back in for that kind of shit.’

After the assault, child protection services organised a different foster home for Rachael. Though she asked for a female carer, they found her a placement with a foster father, in South Australia. Rachael refused to go. Instead, she found her little sister, and they ran away.

‘I took her and we were just living from house to house, trying to find my mum at 11, 12 years old I would have been then’, Rachael said.

‘That’s when I started getting into crime – stealing people’s cars, robbing them, doing all that shit.’ Drugs followed as well – marijuana and then ice. About five years ago, Rachael started injecting. ‘All my feelings went out the door. I just didn’t care’, she said.

Rachael blames her father for the way her life has turned out. ‘If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be sitting here in jail.’ She wants kids today to be more careful than she was. ‘Like my dad had me fooled. He knew what he was doing.’ He groomed her, she believes now. He gave her presents, drove her to school – it was ‘over the top’.

‘I trusted him because he was my dad. I thought he’s not going to hurt me. Nah. I was wrong.’

At the moment, she said, Jack is very sick. ‘He’s dying right now – I couldn’t give two fucks about him but I’m hurting, for some reason. Because I want him to admit what he’s done to me.’

Jail has given Rachael the chance to revisit her education. ‘I can’t read or write properly so I’m doing literacy and numeracy here. I’m going all right.’ She’d like to participate in a drug program – ‘Anything that’s going to help me’. And she wanted to find out more about what counselling might be available to her. She said that telling her story to the Commissioner had been helpful.

‘It feels like there’s a whole weight just come off my shoulders. Ten years, 11 years I’ve kept this in for … I feel a lot better, like trust me I feel a shitload better, sitting here now, from saying my story.’

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