I’m Speaking Out about Domestic Violence on November 18th 2011. Speak Out is a collaboration between BlogCatalog and Wanderlust and is an international Domestic Violence awareness campaign and fundraiser. My post will not make pleasant reading and may be triggering for those of you who have suffered traumatic events. SPEAK OUT!

Eight and a half years ago my Daughter Number One, my fourteen year old, beautiful girl, left with my husband of almost ten years, her stepfather, to go to the movies to see The Matrix Reloaded. She was wearing jeans with a black stretchy skirt over them, and a fleecy blue jacket with New York in red across the front. Her hair was dyed a purple/maroon colour. On her wrist she wore a silver love knot bracelet with the loop in the shape of a heart. She attended a selective performing arts highschool, and was also gifted academically topping her year in Italian the year before. She was an amazing big sister, and she gave the best hugs. Her bedroom was full of Winnie the Pooh stuff.

On that night, eight and a half years ago, my daughter was repeatedly raped and then murdered by her stepfather, my husband of almost ten years, in a murder suicide. On the night they died I found out that when he was around thirteen or fourteen he had been forced at knifepoint to have intercourse with his mother, by her extremely violent de facto partner. I had not known about the sexual abuse. What I had known about was that he and his mother had been subjected to years of physical violence, as well as the associated psychological and emotional abuse, at the hands of his mother’s partner. Violence that as a child saw him beaten with vacuum cleaner pipes and cricket bats amongst other things.

I say none of this to excuse his actions. He made his choices. What I know though, is that his mother decided it best to keep their abuse a secret, and not speak of it, and his sexual abuse he took with him to his grave. What I also know is that my Daughter had been touched inappropriately during her earlier childhood and that she, whether she was threatened or misguidedly wanted to protect her family, kept her secret. Secrets and silence protect no one. Secrets and silence hurt many.

Secrets and silence mean one day stepping through the looking-glass, which splinters into a million itty bitty shards that pierce your skin and become embedded there. It means life as you knew it is over and everything you thought was real, including who you thought you were, is gone. It means you walk into your sons bedroom one morning to tell them that their Sister and their Daddy will not be coming home. That you have reporters on your doorstep, asking for photographs, and telling you to be glad they weren’t printing all they’d heard about the case (the things they just alluded to) when you refuse to feed their frenzy. It’s having the ballet school your Daughter had attended six years previously take it upon themselves to release a photo of her, and make a statement, because any publicity is good publicity, right?

It means liaising with your Daughters thirteen and fourteen year old friends to organise her funeral. It means not being able to view her body or dress her in a favourite outfit, because they hit a rock face at high-speed on the freeway and the car was incinerated; the love knot bracelet melted into her flesh. It means decorating a coffin in glitter and Winnie the Pooh stickers because it is the very least, and the very most, that you can do. It means dressing your sons in the Spider Man and court jester outfits they elect to wear to the celebration of their adored big Sister’s life, and looking out over the sea of her friends dressed in all colours of the rainbow, as they are forced prematurely and brutally to confront their own mortality. It is hearing her friends speak, so eloquently and with such love, of the person my Daughter was.

It is knowing every year, as your eldest Son celebrates his birthday, that ten days later is the anniversary of your  Daughter’s death. Knowing that eight and a half years ago she was by your side helping you decorate a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake, and then she was gone. Gone forever. Gone for always. It is being glad that the Harry Potter series came to an end because you used to read those books together and every book released after she was gone was like a physical blow. Things that were the source of much joy now cause such pain. Christmases – oh I used to be a Christmas freak! Watching her friends finish school, get jobs, get married, have babies. Watching her siblings grow older than their elder Sister ever did.

The sheer waste of it. The absolute and complete waste of it. This beautiful, talented, intelligent, compassionate girl. Gone forever. Gone for always. That is such a very long time, when her story had just begun. 

So, I will stand. And not in silence. I will speak, because she can’t. And I ask you too, to speak. Speak Out for those who cannot speak for themselves. Speak Out for yourself, because you can. SPEAK. Please.


Comments on: "Shout." (30)

  1. My god, I am gutted by your story. Just gutted. I am sitting here in tears after reading this. I don’t understand how anyone could do this. I don’t understand how you go on after this, but god love you for keeping on day after day and being there for your other kids.

    You are brave for telling your story and speaking out about sexual and physical violence. It tears families apart. It breaks hearts. It breaks souls. We need to stand together and shout it from the rooftops. We need the world to hear this so another mother does not have to endure your grief.

    Much, much love to you. Love and support and healing. xx

  2. P.S. I have a linky up on the Wanderlust home page. Will you link this post so others can read it?

    • I added a link to your list of bloggers last night. I hope I’ve done it right! Thank you for the kind words, for the work you’ve done on Speak Out and for sharing your own story, parts of which I can absolutely relate to. I am gutted too. Going on is purely a matter of time passing. Time, alone, does not heal. It does, relentlessly, go on.

  3. You brave beautiful woman… my heart hurts so much. for so many reasons. recognition primarily.

    I have a feeling today is going to be long and hard… a myriad of emotions are coursing through me. grief, and anger. trying to make sense of things that are senseless.

    Thank you. For speaking out. For shouting.

    • Neither brave nor beautiful. Just a firm believer in the power of the internet to bring people together. I totally agree about the long and hard, I’m bracing myself! Thanks for your kind words. Much appreciated. Be kind to yourself today ❤

  4. I am sitting here crying at work at your story – thank you for speaking out and I truly hope that someone seeks help as a result of reading your story.
    Love, hugs and positive energy !

  5. I sitting here, trying to find the right words, and struggling. The idea that someone could do something like this to another human, to their family, is just beyond comprehension.

    I am so so sorry. Sorry for what your husband went through. Sorry for what your beautiful girl went through, and the way her precious life was taken. Sorry that you and your family have to live with the aftermath. How you live through this, I can’t begin to imagine.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, your daughter’s story. By speaking out, you are helping to break the cycle.

    • If there could be any ‘right’ words they would say that you heard me. Which is exactly what you said! Thank you ❤

  6. Reading your story broke my heart, I don’t know what to say except that you a fantastic person to share your story and speak out.

    • Not fantastic, just her Mum. The least I can do really, and hopefully not too little too late for someone else. Thanks for reading.

  7. Thankyou for speaking out I am heartbroken by your story and I did cry while reading it.
    Thankyou for breaking the silence on this injustice by sharing your story, if you can be so brave and tell this then I feel you encourage others to speak out. My heart goes out to you Much love Mumma K

    • Thank you for your kind words and for reading my post. I hope it does encourage others to Speak Out. Sending love back ❤

  8. I just can’t stop crying. Thank you for sharing your story and speaking out. Love and hugs. Here from the Speak Out link.

  9. Oh . Just. Oh !
    I had no idea, and can not imagine how this was for you, is for you.
    Thankyou for sharing your story. Thankyou for sharing a little bit of your beautiful girl with us xxx

  10. I’m struggling here to find words that even begin to befit your post. Thank you for sharing your story, you sound like an amazingly strong woman. Much love. x

    • So not strong at all, but thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. Sending love back ❤

  11. I don’t know what to write… but I just wanted you to know that I read your story. I am so humbled and awed by your grace and strength. xo

    • Letting me know that you heard me is perfect, thank you. No need to be humbled, I’m neither graceful nor strong. Cool name you’ve got there 🙂

  12. […] planned on leaving my ‘Shout’ post up for a week, until White Ribbon Day , an Australian campaign to end Violence Against […]

  13. Dearest Kate — you are seen, heard and understood. Let’s fight on ♥

  14. […] so I am lucky that I get to laugh a lot. And I’m thinking it’s time to do some more roaring, of all different kinds. Because there are different kinds of raw and different kinds of roaring […]

  15. Kate Schwennesen said:

    I have daughters. Your story is so terribly heart heart breaking. I promise to speak for your beautiful daughter and for mine.

  16. […] As I’ve said before, Daughter Number One loved Winnie the Pooh and her room was full of Winnie stuff. After her murder my Sons and I decorated her coffin with Winnie the Pooh stickers, messages of love, glitter and their tiny handprints. So, “Mum, we have to see it, it’s Winnie the Pooh” – Of course we did. […]

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