"I was 10 years old the day you changed my life."

“You lived alone, just one block away so you visited us all the time. I wish grandmother was still alive.”




WARNING: The following content includes descriptions of abuse. Some readers may find this subject matter triggering. 

You were a funny man. You always did silly things which made me laugh a lot. Your strong accent sometimes made your words sound hilarious, so much that even you laughed out loud.

You lived alone, just one block away so you visited us all the time. I wish grandmother was still alive.

Most Sundays you went to church. You wore your best and I remember your shoes were always so beautifully polished.

You often came for dinner. My mum would cook a roast every Sunday night and if you couldn’t come, I’d take the hot roast meal around to your house so you didn’t miss out.

There was one Sunday I remember ever so clearly. You couldn’t make it for dinner and mum asked me if I could take the hot plate wrapped in foil and covered by a tea towel to you. As always, I was happy to bring it over.

You greeted me at the door with your usual smile and placed the plate on the table. Then you took my hand and walked me down the hall. I thought maybe you had a surprise so I followed obligingly.

We went to your room and you took off my clothes. Then you took off your own. I was confused. I didn’t know what was happening but I was always such a good girl that did what I was told without question. You laid on me and did things that I could never even imagine possible.

When it was over, I got dressed and went home. My knickers were wet and uncomfortable and I couldn’t wait to take them off. My mum said I was gone a long time, but I just shrugged my shoulders and went to my room.


I began to hate Sundays and pleaded not to deliver your meal but mum insisted. How could she not have known what happened and kept happening?

“I remember everything about that day. The feel of your hand leading me down your hall.”

I was 10 years old the day you changed my life.

I remember everything about that day. The feel of your hand leading me down your hall, the height of your bed, your weight on my chest, the way you touched my body and kissed the top of my head. The smell of the liniment you were wearing mixed with the musty smell of your house. That look on your face and the sounds you made during your moment of pleasure.

I’m not sure when it actually stopped but lucky for you I was good at keeping secrets. This one, I tried to bury deep down. For many years, I had frequent nightmares with terrifying images of being chased or someone trying to kill me and I’d wake up scared and out of breath.

I managed to avoid most visits to your house although you still regularly dropped in to see us. You insisted on a hug and kiss because that’s what our family did. Such a superficial greeting that I began to loathe.

It got harder to keep my feelings buried until I met one special person. He was my rock and the first person to whom I ever exposed the secret of your hideous behaviour. He supported me in whatever I needed to deal with it. I was 24 and that’s when I decided to take my control back.

I worked up the courage to call and tell you that others now knew of your improper ways. You told me it was my fault because I came to you. I knew you’d say anything to push it back on to me but I felt strong, so I yelled at you and slammed down the phone. Oh, the satisfaction it gave me to think how nervous you must be now it’s in the open.


But that wasn’t to be. Through my mother, you offered me $1,000 in some appalling attempt to pay me off. I realised then you had some sort of control over my mother and you probably didn’t even care that others knew.

“I never visit my brother and his children in their home because they live next door to your old house and I don’t want to be confronted by those burning memories.”

Since then, I have done my best to move on. I was relieved to never have to see you again but there have been many subtle reminders of you in my life. Not every day, but when I least expect it.

My relationship with my mother is strained mostly because of her loyalty to you but also because she has your features. I can barely look at her some days and it takes all my effort to be pleasant. I have no other real family and despite my own experience, I’d like my daughters to have some sort of relationship with a grandparent – the only one they have close by. But I am ever so watchful.

I loved going to the gym but sometimes that pungent smell of liniment gets stuck in my throat and I try not to breathe while I move as far away as I can from the person wearing it.

I am friendly and chat a lot but I am never completely open. How can I truly trust anyone when I trusted you and you betrayed me?

I never visit my brother and his children in their home because they live next door to your old house and I don’t want to be confronted by those burning memories.

My husband longs for a Sunday roast but I rarely ever cook them. Even though he would understand, I have never told him that they can take me right back to those painful Sundays.


You have crept into my mind unexpectedly and interrupted special times with my husband. I open my eyes and remember where I am and who I am with but sometimes that millisecond thought causes me to quietly lose ‘my moment’.

There are many times I have felt crushed inside so keeping a smile on my face and a positive note in my voice takes an incredible amount of work.

Those feelings can be triggered by a smell, a touch, a word, a facial feature, a laugh, a tone of voice or an accent, a place or other random things that send little shockwave reminders of you into my mind.

I didn’t take action because I couldn’t face the thought of reliving those moments. I had already been disgraced and I was scared of being publicly humiliated. I felt weak because I let you off the hook. Then you died and it was too late to ever consider it.

I have spent many years carrying guilt and shame, replaying it all in my mind and wondering how I could have stopped it or what I could have done differently.

I will not do that anymore.

I am no longer going to let those triggers take hold of me and I am no longer going to wonder ‘what if’. I will not let you sneak into my thoughts any more. You don’t belong there.

I will not own the guilt and shame. I am transferring it back to you, its rightful owner.

I’m now 46 years old. Today is the day that my life changes again.

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 call the Child Abuse Report Line on 131 478 (open 24 hours).