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Talia's story

Talia is an Aboriginal woman whose mother was from the Stolen Generations. Both of her parents ‘were full-on alcoholics’, and her father suicided when she was a baby.

Talia had a twin, sister, Jessie. They grew up with their siblings until the mid-1980s, when they were four years old, and then the Northern Territory Department of Children and Families took the children into care.

A few years later, the twins and their older sister were sent to stay with Mr and Mrs Watkins, in a foster care placement.

Mrs Watkins was very cruel. If Talia wet her bed, Mrs Watkins would drag her out of the bed and dunk her in a 44 gallon water drum, and Jessie would have to watch this. She would also make Talia parade naked up and down in front of the family for punishment.

Their son, Martin, was several years older than the twins. He began sexually abusing Talia within a few weeks of their arrival. He would wake her up in the middle of the night and make her perform oral sex on him, and he digitally penetrated her.

He sexually abused Jessie too, threatening to put his pet snakes in their beds if they ever told anyone. This abuse continued for the two years they lived with the family. After this, Talia and her sisters were sent back to live with their mother, stepfather and siblings.

Talia drank ‘a bit’ in her 20s, ‘as young people do. But once you’ve gone through that stuff, you just sort of abuse the alcohol’. She had relationship troubles due to her difficulties communicating with and trusting others. She is currently on medication to help her manage her anxiety and depression, and wants to attend a local healing centre.

She told the Royal Commission she is a ‘very protective’ mother to her children, not even asking people to babysit them. Although her daughter complains, ‘I even still walk them to school – you can see the school from my house’.

Jessie was the only person Talia talked to about the sexual abuse at the time, but later she disclosed to other family members. Her mum was ‘quite upset – they were meant to be looking after us’.

After Jessie passed away recently, Talia sought help from her doctor and a counsellor. ‘It’s something we’d been carrying for a long time. And I’m not only doing it for myself, I’m doing it for her.’

Talia said she’d like to make a claim against the Northern Territory government and report her matter to police in case the family was still fostering children. She recognised, ‘I need to think about all the stuff I’m doing, and do it slowly, otherwise I’ll just crash and burn’.

Her main reason for speaking with the Commission is ‘so other children don’t go through it. They’re the ones that need to be saved, otherwise they’re going to end up just like me. I mean, your confidence and everything is just taken away. And you think, where could my life be, if that didn’t happen to me?’

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