Sitting in a gynecologist's office with her mum by her side, a 16-year-old Peta Powell was told she had the human papillomavirus (HPV).
"I don't understand, what is that?" she asked.
The gynecologist looked at her awkwardly. "It's a sexually transmitted disease," was the reply.
Peta was stunned. "But I haven't had sex?" she said.
"Well you must have, because that's the only way it can be passed," she was told.
Watch: HPV explained. Post continues after video.
It was in that instant, sitting in an uncomfortable doctor's chair, that a flood of memories that Peta had kept suppressed for years in a little box in the back of her brain came rushing back.
He must have given it to her.
"That was the first time I sat there and thought about the nightmares I had been having for two-three years and I realised they weren't just nightmares," Peta, now 40, told Mamamia.
From the age of five, Peta was allegedly sexually abused by a male relative. Her brain had suppressed the memories so much that when her brother and two cousins took the same man to court, she was unable to testify beside them.
"I got interviewed by the police, but I couldn't remember my childhood. Like I had just locked it," she explained. "It was after that consult that it all started coming out. The brain is such a powerful thing. My brain had literally blocked it all out."
By the time Peta was ready to put her alleged abuser on the stand in 2010, he'd already been sentenced to six years for crimes against her family members. He was released after three.
She was told by her lawyer, "You need to understand we need to go through all of it [during a trial]. It's going to be traumatic. He's already done time for a crime that's been committed in that era. So he won't go back to jail."
By this time, she'd seen the effect the process could have on a person. One of her cousins had died from a heroin overdose. The other died from alcoholism. Her brother was addicted to ice and lived with bipolar disorder.
So Peta didn't go to court. And while he remains free, she's been living trapped with the ramifications of a virus she says he gave her.