Til It Happens To You


I  had my hair done yesterday by a professional.  I can’t tell you how decadent it felt to have someone wash and style it. I had previously painted my hair in turquoise and aqua tones with fudge, and cut it myself, much to the amusement of the real hairdresser. She was a beautiful young woman, and confessed that she wants to write. I hope I convinced her that she could; that she had many untold stories begging to be shared. She watched my daughter dancing to the music over the salon’s speakers, and quietly wondered what her children would be like. “It is a delicious surprise,” I smiled. “They will bring more joy than you ever anticipated.” After my hair was done, I bid this angel farewell. I had Lady GaGa’s song, Til it Happens to you in my head. I had watched in awe as she performed this extraordinary song at The Oscars. For over twenty years, I have tried to articulate my experience, and damn, this song said it all. I was rendered speechless after hearing it.

I boarded the bus home, and a news bulletin came on the radio. Cardinal Pell had been speaking in Rome, and essentially proclaimed that children weren’t believed back in ‘those days.’ He wasn’t even sure that he knew it was a crime. He took no responsibility. A lady seated near me called out to the bus driver that she was infuriated by his response. The driver grimly nodded and I stroked my little girl’s hair, silent. I wondered how many on that bus had been abused as children.

13 years of age
13 years of age

I recall the dread I felt when I needed to go to the toilet after being repeatedly raped. I would cry and shriek in pain, my kidneys infected and my ureter bleeding. Still, nobody helped. Everybody knew and the good people that were trying to make it stop, were syphoned far away from me. I was urged to drink more water. Day after day after day of being abused. Death seemed a more attractive option than living at the time.


I was in the clinic with a decorated photographer. She shot for Vogue amongst other publications, and her mother had a title, by order of the Queen. She handed me a beautiful green journal, and urged me to write. “Song lyrics, words and sources of inspiration,” she advised. “One day you will open it, and see how far you have come.”

IMG_6109 IMG_6112



Oh yes, I have come a long way. I don’t quite know how I pulled it off. I was pounced on like I was game and he was the hunter. When I was bloodied and damaged, I was discarded. There will be one indelible image seared into my mind when I recall the Royal Commission of 2015-2016. It will be a spouse’s retort to a columnist who had defended Pell. This is Clare Linane’s eloquent response.

It is always there, waiting to be triggered. I tiptoe through life, roaming the vast, wild coastline, visiting Sydney’s Islands and watching theatre. Perennially searching for beauty. It helps. Everyone who has been alone with the horror of abuse as a child can take comfort at the outrage today. They are being held accountable. At last! At last! It doesn’t take away the pain and anger stemming from the years of silence. I hope that in your search for peace, you stumble upon things of beauty too. We shall never be silenced again.


30 thoughts on “Til It Happens To You

  1. This is so very sad, Raphaela. How did this come about, was it a family relative? Where was your mother who should have been protecting you? Thank you for sharing your experience. I am sure there are many that can relate, I have family members that have been abused xx


  2. On another note … not sure of I thanked you for stopping by “It Is What It Is” and the follow.
    Have a great day. I hope you enjoy your visits there!! Peace …


  3. Your story is so sad and touching. I was moved to tears. And I am also infuriated by the people around you who knew and did nothing. I saw Lady Gaga’s performance at the Oscars with all those other victims of abuse. It was beautiful, moving, and sad at the same time. You have come a long way. ❤ xx


  4. Dear, sweet Raphaela. I could hardly bear to read of your terrible suffering as a child crying out for help but being ignored.
    You have had so much trauma in your life, yet you are one of the loveliest, kindest people that I have had the pleasure to meet here on WordPress. You are always there to help and support others. Your light shines so brightly through the darkness that you have been through. I am immensely proud of what you have achieved. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Raphaela, this is so sad, and I’m so very sorry you had to endure this. Heart wrenching to read what you wrote as a little girl. Horrendous. Lady Gaga was incredible when she performed at the Oscars. Til It Happens To You is so moving. Thank you for sharing your story, you will help others. Take care, Jenny


  6. Sweet Raph,
    Tears are literally streaming down my face at what you had to endure. I am so sorry and wish that I could go back in time and protect you. That Lady Gaga song was so moving and I hope it’s a big step towards more awareness. The conversation surrounding abuse needs to change and people like Gaga and YOU are helping. Thank you for your spirit and sharing and I’m so glad you are in a place now where you can see beauty xoxo.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Raphaela, thanks for sharing your painful story. Your words are galvanizing and instrumental to many. It is sad, that you had to go through this anguish, especially at such a young age. Thanks for being a survivor and advocate. All the best, Keith


  8. I had no idea, Raphaela. I don’t know what to say. You went through hell and you had no one to tell. I can not even imagine how that must have been for a girl. Of course, that left its scars not only on your soul but also on your back. The old burden you still carry. There are no words sufficing what I wished I could say. Please, just feel my embrace, Raphaela 💖


  9. Very eloquently spoken. I’d call these abusers animals except for the obvious insult to animals who don’t do this.No man of any church has the right to abuse and then try and excuse himself with such silly excuses. The bible tells them to protect and care for children, it gives no permission to abuse. As for saying it may not have been against the law at the time (it was) I thought they answered to a higher law that certainly doesn’t give permission.
    The Catholic church in particular has a lot to answer for as do all those in positions of authority or fame as happened with Jimmy Saville. He may have escaped without punishment but I sincerely hope none of the other abusers do.
    If a child has the courage to report abuse then it must be taken seriously.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  10. You are a beautiful soul and I’m so so sorry for what you went through. No one should ever have to endure such horrors. You have indeed come so far and I’m so proud to know such a wonderful woman!

    Big hugs and all my love!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Raphaela, your journal entries made me cry tears of sadness for you, dear.
    You were innocent and precious. I am sorry no one cared enough to get the authorities upon this person. Was he in ministry? He isn’t famous or hasn’t been caught yet?
    My Mom was a H.S. teacher who said girls would tell her regularly about sexual abuse. She would try to strengthen their resolve to tell their parents or minister. Teachers now will call social services but she wanted the students to trust her, so she tried to get them to take action. Hugs and love sent your way… ♡ Robin

    Lady Gaga was fantastic while almost crying out the words in sadness, torture and anger mixed together. ☆☆☆☆ a classy woman and singer!

    Liked by 2 people

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