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Brooke Blurton was 11 when her mum ended her own life. She was sexually assaulted at her wake.

Warning: This post features details of sexual abuse and suicide that could be triggering for some readers. 

When Brooke Blurton was 11, she found her grandmother in the garden after she’d had a stroke.

She called the ambulance, and only a few days after visiting her grandmother in hospital, Brooke’s mother ended her own life.

“Now if that wasn’t traumatic enough, after a tiring and exhausting day attending my mum’s funeral, I fell asleep at the wake and whilst asleep I was sexually abused,” Brooke said, speaking at a TEDx Talks event in Western Australia.

Brooke Blurton shared her story in her TEDx Talk. Post continues below video.

Video via TEDx Talk

The 24-year-old Noongar-Yamatji woman’s childhood was, in her own words, “tough”.

Her mother was of Aboriginal and Malaysian decent, and her father was English. She moved around a lot, and became familiar with the feeling of ‘not belonging’.

“I was bullied and I was teased quite a bit, but the thing was they made me feel different. Different in a way that I was fairer than some of the Aboriginal kids and they would call me a half cast meaning that I simply wasn’t Aboriginal enough for them. We were poor, so we could only afford a secondhand clothes, meaning the [other] kids were also reluctant to be my friend.

“I remember being very confused at the time, thinking if I wasn’t Aboriginal enough and I wasn’t white enough where did I fit in this world? Where did I belong?”

 

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I DID IT ???? my very first TEDxUWA talk and can seriously say. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE. It was a true self reflecting journey, a lot of tears, tantrums, self doubt but overall a milestone in my life and career. A dream come true really. It was something I said to myself at the start of the year and it blows my mind that It’s another thing I’ve achieved and now ticked off ✔️ I just want to take this moment to appreciate a few people. Ofcourse my beautiful boyfriend @nicko_power tbh, I’m so surprised how we survived through this! ???? @jarradseng @tiffany_janes @rachael_gouvignon for coming and being in the crowd, especially to Rachael who helped me rehearse over and over again! And special thanks to @dr_katherine for encouraging me to manifest what I wanted in my life. So many more people to thank, including my family but this post is already long enough ???????? now to celebrate with the best ???? ????????#TEDxUWA #tedtalkaustralia @tedxuwa

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Brooke, who appeared on Nick Cummins’ season of The Bachelor, grew up in a crowded house. She has eight siblings (six brothers and two sisters), but after her mother’s funeral and experiencing abuse, Brooke called her father.

“I don’t remember how I processed that information or how I was feeling at that time, but what I do remember is I found a phone book and a house phone and I looked up my dad’s name, I found a number and dialled. My stepmother answered, and I didn’t tell her what had happened, I just said ‘Could you come get me?’.

“Twenty-four hours later my dad drove from Perth to Carnarvon and picked me up and took me. I left in the middle of the night that night and I didn’t say goodbye to my brothers, I pretty much left my home. I felt like I’d lost everything in that moment. I’d lost my sense of belonging, my family, my mum and also my connection to my Aboriginality. This was when I had first ever thought of suicide.”

Brooke said she struggled with the change, and for two years was practically mute.

“I couldn’t communicate with words and I found it really difficult to use my voice.

“But one thing I was very vocal about was my love for sport and sport became an outlet for me.”

 

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She played every sport under the sun, but it was her love of AFL that really kept her going. She started to enjoy school, because she loved playing footy, and that meant she started to catch up to the education level she needed to be at.

But as everything started to fit into place, as Brooke was finding her feet, she was kicked out of her father’s home.

“Age 15, I was homeless. An independent minor. I’d had to take care of myself, and I remember the same feelings I had at 11 came rushing back when I was 15, like ‘Why won’t I be loved? Why won’t I ever be good enough?’ and ‘Why do I honestly keep bouncing home to home?'”

She considered dropping out of school, but her “saving grace” was a teacher who took her in.

“She didn’t just give me a roof over my head, she actually gave me consistent encouragement and support that I’d never, ever had before.

“She taught me about values, the value of respecting yourself and the value of respecting others. She taught me and showed me what hard work looked like and the responsibility I had [not only] as an Aboriginal woman, but as an older sister and things started to change for me.”

Brooke now works with at-risk Aboriginal youth. She’s familiar with all sorts of statistics, but the one that hurts the most is the stat that says suicide is the leading cause of death in young people.

“How do we turn a blind eye to that and how do we help more young people?” Brooke asked.

She said it starts with “restoring their identity”.

“It starts with helping them gain strength and resilience in where they belong… because once upon a time I was told I wouldn’t make it and I could’ve been one of those statistics.

“I am powerful and my story’s powerful. I’m resilient and I’m worthy. I have a voice and I want young people to find theirs.”

Though we know Brooke for her appearance on reality TV – which has given her a platform of close to 200,000 Instagram followers – she doesn’t consider herself an ‘influencer’. At least not in the way we imagine.

“I’m an influencer everyday, but as a youth worker. I positively influence young people’s lives.”

Brooke’s main message is that your circumstances do not have to define your identity.

“They don’t need to dictate what your future looks like. At all. You can be who you want to me, and achieve what you want to achieve,” she said.

“I was just a young girl who didn’t know how to read or write. I was a young girl who had to repeat years of schooling. I was a young girl who didn’t have the confidence to speak my voice or even talk. And look Mum, here I am.”

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue at 1300 22 4636.

Feature image: Instagram/@brooke.blurton.

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