*Trigger warning: This post is about child sexual abuse and may cause distress for some readers.
by TRACEY DASTEY
I still remember clearly the day the abuse started. You, a 60 year old man who lived down the road. Me, an innocent 8 year old child. Cornered in a little wooden shed out the back of your house, enticed there with the promise of lollies. Your abuse became more frequent and you became more brave, even intruding my private parts in broad daylight in front of the other children. In front of my friends. This abuse continued until I was 11. I remember your words, your rough accent, your “it’s our little secret” mantra and I remember my guilt.
I remember telling my mum. I remember the look of disbelief on her face; no hug, no tears, no help at all. I stopped going near your house and thankfully you no longer had the opportunity to touch me.
I remember the day my sister came home and said to me that you had hurt her. I was 12 years old by then but my sister only 5. She said that she was bleeding. I remember screaming at my mum “I told you what he was like”. I remember the police, the interviews, the court case.
To this day your words still haunt me: “I did it because my wife won’t have sex with me.” I remember the judges decision: “too old to go to jail”. I remember the overwhelming guilt of thinking that I had allowed this to happen to my beautiful sister.
You moved away from our street and years passed before I saw you again. I became a nurse and worked in a community health centre. I remember the day you came in to have blood taken. You were once again in my personal space. I remembered the smell of your breath, the touch of your skin, the sound of your voice; that accent. I took your blood and felt nauseous through the whole procedure. I wanted to scream at you,”do you know who I am? Do you know what you did to me?” but I didn’t.
Last week I read in the local newspaper that you had died. I rang my sister and husband to tell them the news. I envisaged your funeral, your family and friends standing over your coffin claiming that you were a kind hearted man who was loved by many.
Tom, I am happy that you have died. I wanted to tell the world that you had passed. I wanted to celebrate, but i didn’t. Instead, once again I felt guilty. Guilt that me – an over protective mother and nurse – would feel happy at the death of another human.
I am a good person, I know and believe that but why has your death affected me so much when I longed for it? I want to forget you but I can’t.
I will never visit your grave Tom and I won’t grieve over your passing. I know that even in death you will continue to visit my thoughts and dreams.
However I am hopeful that as I grow older, the happy times with my husband and children will eventually remove all aspects of that traumatic time in my life. One day my dreams will be filled with laughter and love.
Tracey is 40 years old and a devoted wife and proud mum of three gorgeous boys aged 10, 7 and 3. She currently works as a registered nurse in General Practice and is completing further University studies involving sexual health.
If you believe a child may be being abused, report your concerns immediately to the appropriate person in your own organisation and the Child Protection Service. If you are concerned about the welfare of a child you can get advice from The Child Abuse Prevention hotline on: 1800 688 009 or visit http://www.childabuseprevention.com.au/ or call The Child Abuse Report Line on: 131 478(Open 24 hours).
Bravehearts are an organisation that help the victims of child sex abuse.
You can find more information about them here.