Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who were unable to have a baby of their own. They applied to adopt a baby and in August 1963 their dreams came true, a tiny girl baby was given to them by the state of New South Wales.
Two years later they had the joy of bringing home another little bundle of pink, gifted to them by the State. A few years later a miracle occurred ... they fell pregnant naturally. Nine months later another little girl was welcomed into the family.
This family of five eventually moved out of the small flat on top of a garage and into the home which had been built for them. To all looking on it was a normal happy family, a man and a woman who had been blessed with three miraculous little girls. They were special.
It should have been perfect.
Behind the walls of the small fibro home, a father who should have been cherishing the daughters he had been gifted, was abusing that power in the most evil of ways.
A little girl should be tucked into bed, kissed good night and left to dream sweet dreams. She should feel safe in her bed.
From a very young age the oldest of the little girls started getting special late night visits from daddy.
He was sneaky and only came in after she was asleep. He would touch her with his hands and his penis, ever so softly in the hope she would stay asleep. She was, by nature, a light sleeper and would wake up and pretend to stay asleep because she didn't know what to do. At first she felt comforted by her daddy coming in and spending time with her, but there is a point when a little girl knows that what daddy is doing is not what a daddy should be doing. This is when a little girl's world turns upside down and she is no longer an innocent little girl.
She would lay awake every night planning how to stop him coming in. She would get out of bed after she'd been tucked in and leave piles of books and noisy toys in the pathway to her bed. She would also lie awake as long as she could so she wouldn't wake up to him touching her in places that a little girl should never be touched.
He eventually stopped trying because the obstacles would make too much noise and her mother was sleeping in the room next door. It didn't stop the little girl from lying awake at night for many years to come, wondering if he would start again.
During the day she managed to hide her bad thoughts away and get on with growing up. She made friends, went to school and did all the things girls do. Despite the awfulness of the secret she carried around, she had a full and reasonably happy childhood when she was away from the family home.
On the inside however she was always insecure. She always had anxiety. She never felt loved. She always felt different. She had a secret no one else had ... or so she believed.
She sometimes thought of telling her mother what her father had done but could never bring herself to do so. She was scared that once it was said it could never be unsaid and life would change irrevocably for all of them. The strange thing was that even though the life they had wasn't right ... it was the only life she knew and she felt if their lives fell apart it would somehow be her fault.
She didn't know that down the hallway there was another little girl in the house going through the same thing. She will never know if it was happening at the same time or whether it only started when it stopped happening to her. For a long time she wondered and occasionally she would almost ask the other little girl, but could never find the right words.
Sexual abuse was never ever talked about in those days and the two little girls really didn't have a name to call what daddy was doing to them.
The two little adopted girls ultimately endured years of sexual abuse at the hands of this man. This man who applied to adopt children under the guise that he would provide a good life for them. That he would give them the love and security their natural parents couldn't. This man abused the trust of the mothers who made the most difficult of choices thinking they were doing the best thing for their babies. This man who never should have been allowed to be a father.
It wasn't until the two little girls were married woman with children of their own that they found out they had both been abused by this man.
Unfortunately they had never been close as sisters and had never supported each other. In fact the three little girls had never been close. They grew up quite a disparate group with the older two spending as much time away from the house as possible. They were three very different people who shared two parent figures yet each sister led a totally separate life.
The eldest sister spent as much time as she could away from the family, ingraining herself into her friend's families. She had close friendships which she would maintain for her entire life. She would grow into a woman who understood friendships yet had no idea how to do love and families.
The middle sister would ultimately lead a troubled life, as she too must have had trouble with love and families.
The younger sister, who was the natural child, seemed okay.
I can only surmise as to how they both feel because this is not their story. This is my story. I am the eldest of the three sisters.
When I found out via a chance telephone conversation that my sister had been abused for years by our father everything changed. I found out that she had made attempts to tell our mother but she was never believed. Our mother didn't do anything to protect her children. This was my turning point.
I was a mother and I would have done anything to protect my children. I could not fathom how our mother could do nothing. Having that man in my life while my boys were little was always a terrible conflict for me. I hardly ever saw them and when I did I would never let him hold them nor did I ever let them be alone with him.
The day I found out for sure about my sister It took me ten seconds to tell her that I never ever wanted to see our mother or father again. It transpired that he had abused my sister's daughter as well and she ultimately had him charged. I declined being part of the court case because I had moved on. He was found guilty and died before he was sentenced. I never saw him again.
Cutting them out of my life finally gave me the ability deal with this secret I had been carrying around since I was 5 years old.
Dealing with it doesn't mean I can pretend it didn't happen. I still have occasional flashes of disturbing memories and suspect I always will. What it does mean is I know it wasn't my fault and I know that there is nothing wrong me. It also means that I am not reminded of it every time I have dealings with that family.
Walking away wasn't easy ... I did have guilt. I felt bad for punishing my mother for something my father had done. She may or may not have known, I will never know for sure. But what I do know is she didn't do anything to protect us, especially when my sister had told her. She is not alone, her natural daughter has always been close to her, and still is... this made it easier for me to walk away.
I am no longer a part of them and after eighteen years I can barely remember what being part of them felt like. We all deal with things the best way we can ... this was my way.
Why am I writing this tonight? An old school friend made contact with me today to tell me that my mother was in the hospital ... she had a fall. I had to read her message a number of times to realise who she was talking about. I felt strange because I felt nothing. I felt guilty for feeling nothing. This is the woman who fed and bathed me and put me through school. I still felt nothing. I eventually felt sad ... but only because I felt nothing. The only thing I felt compelled to do was finally write about why I feel nothing. I made my decision eighteen years ago and I don't regret it.
What I do regret is not having the ability to say anything when it was happening. Unfortunately back then speaking up wasn't encouraged or supported. Anything of a sexual nature was shrouded in secrecy, we were never ever told what sexual abuse was.
We have come a long way in dealing with child sexual abuse and I know if I had been born in this time, I would have spoken up for certain.
We must never stop talking about sexual abuse.
If this blog post brings up any feelings or concerns that you are unable to deal with ... please call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Adults Surviving Child Abuse
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