opinion

'My sister was kidnapped right in front of me.'

I’ve been reading a lot about the botched kidnapping by a mother and the 60 Minutes crew. There are lots of angles and perspectives. I haven’t seen too much about the impact of this on the children involved.

Although this happened over three decades ago, as I sit here and type, my hands are shaking, my heart is pounding and I feel like I can’t breathe. Images are flooding my mind I just feel sick for the trauma these children (and many like us) have been through.

My 11 year old sister was ‘kidnapped’ when we were waiting on a platform to travel two stations to buy our mother a birthday present. I was 12 years old.

We were the only two on our side of the platform. Across the tracks it was busier as that side was city bound. I noticed a rather large man enter through the gate on our side, he walked towards us. My sister was closest to him and he, without a word, simply picked her up. It happened very quickly, she began screaming (as did I). She was struggling and I was trying to pull her off him but he was too big and too strong. He carried her to the gate and threw her in to a parked vehicle and I couldn’t do anything but watch as the car sped off.

I knew enough at that age to think I know what this man’s intentions might be with an 11 year old girl. I was terrified.

CCTV footage of the botched kidnapping in Lebanon involving 60 minutes. Post continues after video…

Video via Channel 9

I turned and without thinking jumped on to the tracks to get to where the people were. I know I was screaming for help and for someone to call the police. I banged on the door of the station master’s office (they had them in those days) begging them to call the police. The door didn’t open and there was no response at all.

Desperate, I jumped back on the tracks to get to the closest street hoping someone, anyone, would help me. In hindsight, I’m probably pretty lucky I didn’t get hit by a train, I wouldn’t have been looking out for them.

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I ran to the closest house still screaming, banging on the door, it seemed like an eternity before someone answered it. I was just about to run off to try the next house when the door opened and the first thing I saw was a knife, I think I almost fainted right then and there. The occupants not knowing what to expect from a screaming crazy person on their doorstep weren’t taking any chances.

I screamed for them to call the police as my sister had been kidnapped.  They did. I’m comforted today still by the few minutes of comfort I received from this couple in the middle of the madness I was experiencing.

The police did come, they were wonderful. I don’t recall ever having been so relieved to see anybody in my life. Of course, I didn’t have practical information like make and model of the car or a number plate.

I screamed for them to call the police as my sister had been kidnapped. (Image via iStock.) 

I remember though being secretly pleased at their annoyance with the lack of assistance by the station master and ‘grown ups' on the platform, not helping me in any way.

The process for me after the police arrived is a little blurry until I found myself in a police car being driven home. I clearly remember thinking I couldn’t face mum because there was no way I could justify letting my sister get kidnapped.

In my mind, my little sister was my responsibility. I was her big sister. It was my job to look after her and I was absolutely 100% responsible for anything that happened to her.

I wished he had of taken me and not her. I would have traded places in a second. I wondered why he did take her and not me, that bothered me for a long time.

When I arrived home I was too scared to get out of the car. I remember crying and saying over and over again, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I tried to stop him but I couldn’t.

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Of course, my mum gave me a big hug and a kiss, although she was clearly distraught and it was certainly panic stations all round, she tried to reassure me that it was not my fault. I didn’t believe what she was saying, I had no doubt it was my fault and, no matter words to the contrary.

I wondered why he did take her and not me, that bothered me for a long time. (Image via iStock.)

There was a considerable amount of time when our family believed that my sister had been abducted by a paedophile who had intentions of abuse, rape or murder. I don’t need to tell you how distressing and traumatic that was for all of us.

Our story had a good outcome: my sister was returned to us once she divulged our address. You see at that time we were in hiding from our abusive father and he had paid someone to locate us and then take us (or one of us) to extract information. To this day, I’m not sure why the man he hired thought it was a good idea to take my sister instead of just following us.

It was only in recent years my sister and I have been able to discuss this incident. It was fascinating and therapeutic to hear for the first time the events of that day from her perspective. I don’t understand why we have never discussed it, like many events from our childhood, they are simply not discussed.

She tells me that after she was driven off and taken away, it was made very clear to her shortly after the purpose for the actions, so she felt safe and not in any danger. However, she was reluctant to divulge information such as our address and held off for as long as she could. Giving this information and understanding what the consequences would've been for all of us made this traumatic for her.

For many years my sister felt responsible and blamed herself (and still does) for domestic events that followed thereafter and felt guilty. For many years, I too felt helpless, responsible and guilty but for different reasons.

Parents, I beg you, please consider the impact of your actions on the child.

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