If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, please seek help with a qualified counsellor or by calling 1800 RESPECT.
One month ago my life changed. One month and one day ago I was happily married to my second husband who was a wonderful stepfather to my teenage daughter, and I was (I hope) a great stepmum to his teenage son.
We’d been together for nearly a decade and had just celebrated another wedding anniversary. We had a house in the suburbs and great jobs. I thought my life couldn’t get more perfect. I was wrong. This is the story of that day.
It was about 11.30am on a Friday and I was at work. I’d just had coffee with a friend, and I had started thinking about the tasks I had left to complete that day. I had one meeting straight after lunch, and as I was on top of everything, I was considering knocking off a little early for a change. Then my phone rang, a private number, and thinking it might be my meeting calling to change times, I answered. The words I heard next would shift my world off its axis.
“My name is Susan and I’m calling about a child protection matter regarding your daughter”.
I took my mobile outside and Susan told me that I needed to go immediately to my daughter’s school as she was being interviewed by a police detective and a child protection worker. I tried to find out what had happened, but Susan was unable to give me any details over the phone. She told me that my daughter had made a disclosure about sexual abuse, and I just about fell over.
I flew back into my office and quickly told a colleague that I was leaving, it was an emergency, and I would be in contact later that day. Racing to my car, I felt my chest become tight, as if I couldn’t draw a full breath. It was a feeling I would come to recognise over the coming days and weeks as part of my new normal.
While driving to my daughter’s school I rang my husband and told him that I had been asked to go to her school and that it was a child protection issue. I said that if her boyfriend had done anything I would kill him, and my husband tried to calm me down and said he would leave work now and meet us at home later on.