What it Takes to go to Court…

My dear friend lives in the city, and she and her husband work hard to build a future for their family. Sadly, sexual abuse featured in their lives as young people, and whilst the scars have healed over, they can occasionally be picked open by recent events. My friend sought the services of a professional, for a sensitive matter. She trusted that what transpired in that room, would stay in that room. Little did she know, that the professional man would bank on that happening. She divulged her fears and innermost feelings, and he preyed upon her in insidious fashion. The sexual abuse happened within five minutes, leaving her confused and stunned. She hurriedly left, stumbling out of the practice, then ringing her fiancee. Within a week, news of this professional man’s crimes hit the media. My friend went to the police, and reported what had transpired at her appointment. She went back and made a statement, the event opening up old wounds, and a fear of whether she could trust anyone in a professional capacity, again.

In the interim, she married and had a baby boy. The week after his birth, she was asked by the Department of Public Prosecution’s to come to their offices for an appointment to run over her statement. She explained that this was impossible, as she had just given birth, and so she was granted a Skype interview. She was nervous in the lead-up, and anxious on the day. I went over to look after her baby whilst she talked in another room. They said that she would likely need to come to court within the next couple of weeks, and she prepared herself as best she could.

The matter kept being pushed back, the accused deciding to plead Not Guilty to all charges. There were over thirty charges, and scores of women and girls had given statements to the police. Finally, it was scheduled. Two days off work for her husband, and two days spent in a courthouse in her last days of maternity leave. These were days she wanted to spend with her baby, and instead they were spent in the company of the accused’s barrister, who was aggressive. Day one, she left after eight hours, without having been on the stand. Day two, she was up, and left exhausted. It took weeks for her to regain her energy, and I was worried that she may go into a post-natal depression. She just hoped that by standing up, he would get as long a sentence as the law allowed.

I was with her months’ later, when she received a text from the DPP, saying that the charges of him molesting her had been dropped. She was devastated, and wondered what she could have done or said that would have made a difference. I assured her that there was nothing that could have been done differently. Even though she was assured that he had been found guilty on other charges, it would have meant the world if they had said that he was guilty of this charge too. It would have meant the world to the little girl within her soul. Validation means everything, though is hard to come by. I took her for a cuppa, and bought her flowers.

Two days of unpaid leave for her husband. The expense of meals and petrol, not to mention the emotional toll. Hours spent giving statements, in interviews and on the stand. Time away from her baby. This couple asked me why would anybody go to all this trouble, if the event hadn’t happened? What on earth would they have gained? The law is a tricky business, with sleight of hand and confusing verdicts. This creature is going to jail, for quite a while, nonetheless. I am so very proud of this friend, for standing up and telling of her encounter. It took everything she had, and then some. Somehow, within the telling, it has freed this little girl, regardless. You fought the good fight, and your courage caused other’s to stand up and go to the police too. Your clarion call was heard, sweetheart. Those who have found their voice, shall never be silenced again.

Why didn’t you Tell?

The arm in this picture tells a powerful story.

Why didn’t you tell? Why didn’t you say something? Let me have a think about it…

I guess the teachers, family therapists, doctors and ICU staff don’t count. Nor do the parents of friends, police officers, Health Dept. It was almost a full-time job as a young person, writing reports and speaking to the relevent agencies. It takes such bravery to speak out in the first place, and to simply keep living after you have been dismissed or threatened for doing so. It took over a decade for someone to finally hear me. It took longer to start the healing process, a journey which is ongoing.

To those not able to speak out when the horror first occurred, I completely understand. These monsters may be in your family, they may employ you, or be in a position of power. To survive, you disassociate. You must, in order to stay alive. You have an out-of-body experience, your brain’s way of coping. Your words catch in the back of your throat, leaving you silent. If you are shouted down by HR, for example, it can take many months to open your mouth again. You have to get your head around filing a statement with the police, knowing that court may await you, bringing with it an opening of your wounds. If the person who committed the vile act is regarded by others as a convivial individual; community-minded and respected, you can feel very alone. There should be no smug questioning of the individual as to why they didn’t come forward sooner. There should only be praise that they did at all. It is so very hard.

This year has seen The Reckoning come to pass. I have waited my whole life for such an event. It has given allowance for those silenced in the shadows to speak, and to heal. I know how it feels to be a girl with a spotlight on her, people ridiculing, turning away and accusing. I know what it feels like to be the arm in the picture, timidly speaking out, but unable to reveal my identity. We have tried to speak out for many years, in many different ways. We have tried to change the culture and what is allowed by powerful individuals. Now is the time of being heard. Within ten years, my daughter will have joined the workforce, and be out there in the world. I am beyond relieved that it will most likely be a workplace with respect as it’s ethos, rather than creeps being able to do whatever they want to whomever they want. I look back at my younger years, and read my medical notes. The amount of times I had frank conversations about what I was enduring is astounding. I tried to tell, but nobody listened. It was all too hard. I am so glad that I survived to witness The Reckoning. It is changing the culture for our children.

I Am Thankful.

I am thankful on this gorgeous autumn day.

Firstly, for this little fellow. His name is Bristem and I found him at a fete for $3.00 on Saturday! Handmade in Nundle, he is the inventor of new games for the elderly to play in ‘Elador.’ He waits patiently for a friend to come by and see if he enjoyed his new card game. Wouldn’t it be lovely if folks that invented games for our lives had Bristem’s good intent and his friendly features? A girl can dream!

I am also thankful for tie-dyed doilies. Where have you been all my life?!
Also, tiny fairy doors, leading to magical portals of splendour. We all need to escape now and then! The news is filled with stories of truth being released from hidden corners; people finally granted the peace which being heard conspires. The survivors of Robert Hughes, and now Parramatta Girls Home… I hope they find a friend like Bristem, devising fun games to take them away from the memories. To have the colour come back to their lives, as bright as my new doily. To have a means of escape as handy as my little fairy door. Most of all, I hope they have a new beginning. I am thankful that they held on. I am thankful for their bravery and stoicism. I adore living in a world with these souls.