Posts tagged ‘Domestic Violence’

TELL ME, WHAT’S FEAR TO YOU? 

Trigger warning: This post deals with domestic violence, suicide and loss. Safe onward travel x

– A Day in the life of my PTSD and me.

My telecommunications and Internet provider is experiencing difficulties this afternoon. My mobile phone has been intermittently unable to make or receive calls and my internet is dropping in and out too. I am trying, trying, trying not to completely lose my shit.

And I am failing.

After venting to my facebook friends (during a brief period the Internet was actually working) I know that it is definitely a network problem. Not exclusive to me and so I shouldn’t take it personally. But it is personal. So very personal.

The walls are closing in a little bit and I cannot focus on anything for too long. My thoughts are jumbled.My chest is tight and my breathing is shallow and I can feel a headache coming on.

I walk to the beach and I sit, watching the waves hit the shore and the sun sink slowly towards the horizon. I play Fletcher Pilon’s – winner of Australia’s Got Talent 2016 – album ‘Banjo’ through my headphones. The sea helps, the music helps, the warmth of the slowly sinking sun helps because I feel chilled even though it is a warm day. It all helps and I am trying hard to relax into it but my chest is still tight and my head hurts more.

So still I try. Try to re-establish control and restore my equilibrium. Try to take deeper breaths. Try to stop the rocking I suddenly notice I am doing. And writing everything down helps. Mindfulness, yeah? Grounding myself in the moment. I can feel my heart banging around in my chest. I hear the waves crashing on the sand. I take some photos of things that appeal to my eye.

  
This must all sound an over reaction. Phone companies have issues. Shit happens. First World Problems. But today, after I first noticed my lack of ability to communicate with the outside world the Internet kicked back in briefly and multiple messages from my seventeen year old son filtered through. “Mum, I need my Medicare number please” “Mum, are you there? Do you keep hanging up on me?”

Walking along the waters edge I notice several feathers. Further still I see what I think at first is a dead fish, being pushed back and forth gently by the waves on the very edge of the water. Then I am closer and my sluggish brain returns my gaze to it until I realise it is a wing of a bird. Ripped and torn; it’s white, white bones spilling out and the feathers gently ruffled by the ocean. I recoil as my mind starts to kick in reflexively, and make suggestions about how that wing came to be there. I don’t take any photos of the wing. But it is too late. It is too late for me and for the bird no longer flying. The wing is there anyway, in my mind’s eye. And my mind throws up the picture every so often, like a macabre Viewfinder, shuffling images as I walk.

  
I manage to get through to my son. He is having chest pains. He is heading to the GP. He is young and fit and healthy and I have no reason to think it is anything more than a pulled muscle from teenaged hijinks. So says my rational mind. He has friends with him. This is good. They are good friends. I have good friends too. I am lucky. And yet my chest still feels like I am buried under concrete.

I play the same album, over and over again. I listen to the lyrics, letting each word wash over me. When my internet kicks in I check facebook and see what my friends are doing and try to relax and try to feel normal and try to feel real. I run the sand through my fingers and feel the coarse grains. The sun is losing it’s heat. There is a sailboat on the horizon.

My son has his appointment with the doctor. She says his heart rate is a little elevated but he seems ok. She advises rest and if the pain gets worse to go to an emergency room. I manage a call that actually connects and I hear my son tell me this in his own voice. I am relieved. But my own chest stays tight.

  
I hear the counsellor ask me earlier today “When do you have a rest from this stuff?” And my voice answering “It is with me always. Always.” And it is. To varying degrees in a million ways which can be heightened by anything, or by nothing.

Not being able to contact loved ones by phone does me in. There is the illusion that they are right there, right there at the end of a phone call or a text message. I don’t wait patiently for responses. It is agony for me! All hail read receipts! And I know, better than most, that it is only an illusion. That each and every time I physically let someone leave my sight it may be the last time I see them. Life happens. But having them on the end of a phone line is something, because I can’t handcuff myself to everyone I love indefinitely. Even if I could, life would still happen. I know the security of having them at the end of a phone call is only an illusion. But it is a beautiful illusion and it is all I have.

  
On the night my beautiful daughter was murdered I rang the mobile phone of her killer dozens and dozens and dozens of times. It was turned off. I didn’t understand. It was never turned off. They were meant to be at the movies though, so maybe the film hadn’t finished yet? I didn’t understand.

On the beach, in the present moment, a gorgeous chocolate brown and caramel kelpie trots towards me. The largish stick it is holding pulling the edges of it’s mouth into a happy grin. It trots right up to me. The orange of the sunset ringing it’s silhouette in a golden glow. The chocolate dog comes right up beside me and then sits down. It stays with me for the few seconds it takes it’s human to catch up and then it trots happily off again. And I give thanks for the chocolate dog who let me touch it’s soft, warm fur and who stopped to comfort me because dogs know, they really know.

On the night my beautiful daughter was murdered I rang the mobile phone of her murder again and again and again for hour after hour after hour. It stayed off. I couldn’t work it out. It was night time and there was still no answer and I started to ring hospitals because the only horrible conclusion I could come to was that there must have been an accident. But there was no accident. It was not an accident.

The sun is touching the horizon now and soon it will dip beneath it. A man sits thirty metres up the beach singing to his crawling smiling baby and watching the setting sun. It is over three and half hours now, since this internet issue started and the service is still dropping in and out. The sun is half sunken and the wind picks up and the waves, like the days, keep rolling in.

  
At about twenty past eleven on the night my daughter was murdered, after I had called the police to say my daughter and her murderer were missing I called the mobile phone again. And my daughter answered. I asked where she was and she said she could not tell me. I asked her yes and no questions – I heard her say to her murderer “She doesn’t understand”. The phone dropped out at her end. I could still hear my daughter but she could not hear me. They were driving through mobile reception black spots. I hung up and rang again. My daughter answered! I kept trying to ask questions that might give me a clue. I asked if she was coming home and she said no. I didn’t say “I love you” because I couldn’t say goodbye. And then the phone dropped out again. She could no longer hear me.

I heard my beautiful daughter’s voice as she said, not screamed, just said “Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad.” Over and over again. Still calling him Dad. And then I hung up so I could call the police back to let them know Sam was answering the phone. When I tried to call her back there was no answer.

  
Later, when I got my phone bill and read the witness statements I realised there were probably only seconds between my hanging up the phone and the car my daughter was in hitting the rock face wall on the expressway. When I heard her saying “Please Dad” she was begging for her life as she hurtled towards a rock wall. I just missed hearing the impact and I am glad for that. Because for half an hour longer, until the police car pulled silently up in front of my house in the dead of night, I still had hope my daughter was alive.

The sun is long gone. The light with it too. Who knows when the telephone service will be fully back on line. My limbs are stiff. It is getting cold. I am shivering. My phone battery is almost flat. But while sitting on the beach, writing this, I have begun to breathe a little easier. A chocolate dog, a giggling baby and waves that keep on rolling in.

Sam is with me always. Always.

  

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BEAUTIFUL PAIN.

TRIGGER WARNING: sexual assault, violence,murder, suicide. Safe onward travel my friends x

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Happy Birthday Sam. You would be twenty seven years old today. This photo was taken in the flat where we lived above a mechanic’s shop in The Entrance NSW. Your first birthday was almost exactly two months after the Newcastle Earthquake. On the day the earthquake happened you had gone back to sleep, so I was sleeping too. Something woke me and I wasn’t sure what had happened. It was quite disorientating and very unsettling and I picked you up out of your cot and dressed you and took you down the road to the shopping centre, and we sat in a café and people around us started talking about what had happened, and then I knew it was an earthquake. It was surreal.

When your second birthday rolled around your Daddy and I were still together. By the time you were two and a half, though, we had separated. Just after his 21st birthday, just before mine. It’s been almost nine months since the day he killed himself. My grief today includes his wife and his three sons, your brothers that did not have the chance to really know you. I know, like you, nothing can hurt him any more and I hope that if there is an afterlife, that you have found each other.

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This lovely birthday cake and yummy cupcakes were made by a friend, not by me. By the time you turned four I already felt that I had failed you as a mother. Everything I didn’t want for you, everything I wanted to give you that I had never had, I had not managed to provide. Luckily you had other people who loved you and who picked up the slack. Hayley, I love you.

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You turned five at the start of your educational career – it was only a day or two after you had started school and I brought this cake to school so you could share it with your new classmates. By this stage we were already living with the man who would become your stepfather, and then later, your murderer.

You had a brother to help you celebrate your seventh birthday. He’s twenty one years old now. Seven years older than you ever will be. He stands over two metres tall and although he still has issues he is far more independent than I ever hoped he could be. He misses you. At this time in our lives I had gone back to studying. I was studying welfare. I felt like I finally had my shit together.

What a smile! From the days of your first smiles until the day you died you had this huge, infectious smile Sam.

You had two brothers helping you celebrate your eleventh birthday. Your youngest brother towers over me now and turns eighteen this year. He misses you too and he doesn’t really remember you, which is another loss. He was so little when you died.

This was the year before you started at the Hunter School of the Performing Arts. Although you were good at school, socially you found it a bit hard sometimes; you didn’t feel like you fitted in. You started at the Hunter School of the Performing Arts in year 6 and there you finally found your home. All the other oddballs who were born the stand out, rather than blend in. These were your people. And they stayed your tribe until you died. Hell Sam, they are your tribe still, and you are still part of them and there are no words for what that meant to me then and means to me now.

The Hunter School of the Performing Arts is the only fully selective Year 3-12 performing arts school in NSW, Australia. You had to audition to get in. Everyone did. I remember preparing for the audition with you. I remember you attending the audition and having the time of your life! And I remember you getting the letter to say you had won a place in your chosen category of drama. That passion was something we shared and your youngest brother also shares it. Your little sister, born four years after you died, has it too. I see you in them.

Just before your twelfth birthday you broke your arm playing basketball at Vacation Care. You had to spend time in hospital for a closed reduction and you shared a room with two girls around your age who had cystic fibrosis. The three of you had a ball! The break meant your ice skating birthday party had to be postponed but a couple of months later it happened, with all your beautiful friends.

Your fourteenth birthday was the last I had to spend with you. There was a school dance that night and your adored best friend came home from school with you that afternoon. I love you Harley. You were so happy, so excited and it was so fitting that you spent your last birthday celebrating with people you loved in a place you were so happy. After you died, Sam, your school was so great. Honestly, I love that school. The care they provided to you continued after your death and extended to us, your family, and they looked after your friends too Sam, which I know you’d be thankful for. Above and beyond their job descriptions.

In the last photo there is a movie poster behind you for The Matrix. Your murderer told us he was taking you to see the sequel on the day, just over three months after your fourteenth birthday, that he killed you. Instead of the cinema he took you into bushland and repeatedly sexually assaulted you before murdering you.

Today is a hard day for me Sam. Some days are harder than others and this one is a tough one. I think about where you would be now, if you were here, on your twenty-seventh birthday. Would you be married? Have children? Be paying off a house? I see your friends doing all those things and more. Someone asked me if it became easier with each birthday that passed. Does it get easier the more time that passes since the last time I hugged you? Does it get easier the more days you do not get to see? The more things I realise you will never do? Does it get easier knowing that next year will bring a point in time where you will be gone longer than you were here for and I don’t even know how I will bear it. No. It does not get easier. Yes, I live with it. I don’t have much of a choice.

I live with knowing that the Monday after you died you were meant to go on an excursion to tour NIDA, when it was your DREAM to study there. And that does not get easier either. I live with knowing there is much I cannot change, but that your little sister and your brothers have flown on many aeroplanes because you never flew on one. Hey Sam, your lovely friend? The one with your name? She flies planes now – as the pilot! She flies sick children in for treatment. She studied really hard for many years but she’s living her dream now. And I’m very proud of her.

For days now I have been dizzy. All. The. Time. Brought to my knees by tears in the kitchen at 7.30 in the morning, crying in the shower so nobody hears, crying in the toilet after seeing photo’s of Luna Park in Sydney and remembering the time we celebrated your first brother’s birthday there. You were six and walked to the front of the orchestra playing and conducted them, in your jeans and denim jacket. A photographer took photos of you for a local newspaper and I still have copies somewhere. Everything today is too loud, too bright and way too hard.

On the night you were born I was eighteen years, two months, two weeks and five days old. Your Dad was working as a station attendant on the railways and I had travelled down the North Shore line to work with him before coming back to the Central Coast, where we were living, to pack as we were moving out of our first little rented unit. I had fallen asleep on the train back and as I got off the train at my stop I didn’t feel very well. It was around half past three in the afternoon. The flat was only across the road from the station though, so I walked back and continued the work that needed to be done. I really didn’t feel well at all and I started to feel pain. It occurred to me that this could be it, this could be you, but surely not? I rang the hospital and spoke to a midwife who advised me to stay at home for as long as I could. And I rang your Dad and asked him to come home, please.

But he was hours away and there came a point when I realised I couldn’t wait for him so I called a cab and went, alone, to Gosford Hospital. After I arrived I was taken to a room and apart from being periodically checked on, there I was left, alone, waiting for your Dad to arrive. I had been there several hours when I asked the nurse to call your Dad again. He hadn’t left yet. He was settling the till for the day. He was still hours away. And then I cried. And the nurse asked if there was anyone else she could call? But there wasn’t. So I waited, alone. For your Dad. And for you.

He arrived around half past ten and you arrived just before 11.30pm. It was overwhelming. Shortly afterwards your Dad said he was off. He needed to finish the packing and was tired after work. It was just me and you, kid. Until a nurse came in and offered to take you to the nursery and look after you, so I could get some rest. And I didn’t want you to go but I guessed this was what new mothers did? I didn’t want to make a fuss so I just agreed and as I lay there and waited for the nurses to bring you back to me I felt so guilty for letting you go. I feel guilty about it still. Deep inside me there is a little voice that whispers in a scratchy, spiky tone, that maybe if I’d said no and not let you go, maybe if we had spent that time together after you were freshly arrived in the world, maybe you would have been able to tell me that he had hurt you. Maybe I would have been able to save you.

And in my head I know that there would have been threats and promises to keep you quiet. I know that you stayed silent to try to protect us. But that wasn’t your job Sam. It was mine to protect you, to look after you. And I feel like I failed from the start.

But I can’t go back Sam. I can only go forward. So I do. Every day, even on the hard days. And I’ve been asked to speak about you again Sam which is so terribly, terribly important to me. I think, if talking about your life and your death helps just one person then that will be the only sense I can ever make out of it. And I tell it all Sam, even the hard bits. Because you lived it. And all with that giant smile on your beautiful face.

I miss you Sam and it hurts like crazy. But nothing can hurt you any more. I love you Sam, so very, very much.

Happy Birthday my Sammie.

On this day 27 years ago you made me a mother. And I will stay,

Always,

Your Mum x

 

 

 

TWO LITTLE BOYS. 

Speaking to The Love of My Life today, we were talking about how my Daughter Number One, Sam, died. 

‘You know’ he said ‘in the future there will be cars that people can’t die in. Someone is probably working on it now, something to keep the occupants safe, so that car crashes can’t happen. And then people won’t die in cars’. And I thought to myself that that would really be something. No more fatalities on our roads. 

But then I thought, it wasn’t actually the car that killed her. The car was just the weapon of choice of her murderer. My Daughter was killed by another human being, it wasn’t a car accident, it was an act of murder by a trusted adult known to her. A man who drove at high speed into a rock wall on an expressway and ended her life. 

Then the news today that a father has driven off a wharf with his two little sons, aged four and not yet even one, after posting a suicide note on facebook. Koda and Hunter died, trapped in a car, drowning. This was no car accident either. And although the coroner will have the final word, and as much as I feel for their mother – and oh I do! So very much! This club doesn’t need any more members – I am not afraid to say that the man the media is reporting as a loving father and active member of the community is, now, a murderer and surely whatever else he may have been fairly PALES in comparison? Seriously. 

My heart bleeds for Hunter and Koda’s mother, extended family and friends. But mostly it bleeds for two little boys who are now gone, just like that, for always. 

Cars that people can’t die in would really be something. But so would an end to Domestic Violence. Fuck, why stop there? Let’s get rid of people killing other people, full stop. Because, enough already. 

Rest in Peace Koda and Hunter. And say hi to Sam for me x 

  

I’M A BITCH, I’M A LOVER, I’M A CHILD, I’M A MOTHER, I’M A SINNER, I’M A SAINT, I DO NOT FEEL ASHAMED.

This post is dedicated to the beautiful Elijah Rainbow; for all that you were, all that you will always be and all that you could have been, with my love x 

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(Me circa 1988, photo credit to my lovely and dear friend Hayley. You can find her here and here.)

Several weeks ago I was asked to speak at a Keynote Presentation on Victim Awareness in the Mental Health sector, presented by Angelhands, a not for profit organisation that works to provide support for those affected by homicide or serious personal violence. This was a very big deal for me for a number of reasons. The most important reason is that I feel very strongly that silence and secrecy contributed to Daughter Number One’s death and, like this blog, this opportunity gave me the chance to speak about my beautiful Daughter and hope that in some small way it will help someone else. Secondly, I used to go to these kind of things, back before my life imploded. I used to to eat them up. Learning is fun! I have a folder full of qualifications and certificates from training days and the like that I’ve never used but have collected in my travels. Third reason was that it gave me a boost of self worth and a timely reminder of my value. Which we all need every now and then, don’t we?

Overwhelmingly it was a positive experience for me. Although the only public speaking I have done in over a decade was at the wedding I went to eighteen months ago I was confident I could do it based on my long since past days at the Australian Theatre for Young People when I was sixteen and my desire to get it done. I was hoping to tap into a different head space, than my present day to day one, and I was able to manage that.

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Maybe I managed it a little too well. For a little while I completely forgot why I was there. As I said, I’ve been to plenty of similar events where I was on the other side of the podium. As I listened to the other speakers I found myself really getting into their words. I looked around the room and listened to the questions the attendees asked and I could have been one of them. My tertiary qualifications are probably similar. I didn’t feel out of place or uncomfortable or intimidated – which I thought maybe I would.

Son Number Two came with me and as he sat next to me listening to Ian Carter, CEO of Anglicare, speak to Anglicare’s Community Perceptions Report 2014: Family and Domestic Violence (which you can find here) I could see him reacting physically, flinching as he heard the sobering statistics. When Daughter Number One was very young she attended a few protests with me. Not a bad thing. My now seventeen year old Son Number Two hearing some hard facts on Domestic Violence – NOT A BAD THING!

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Before, during and after the Angelhands event my glorious friends surrounded me with their love and the positivity and extent of their confidence in me was truly humbling, as always. When I don’t believe in me I believe in them and their belief in me and that has gotten me through on many days. I have been thinking about the girl I was who won the scholarship to ATYP and the one in the photo above. The young woman I was when my Daughter Number One died and the woman I have become since then; the person I am today. I am all of them and she is all of me and then some. I am more than the sum of my parts and the ones who truly love me have taught me that. There are vast expanses of myself yet to discover and explore, and beautiful oasis’ to revisit and I treasure the ones who value me enough to be part of the odyssey that is me. 

A couple of weeks ago I had a message from Baby Daddy to let me know that in a couple of years he will be having Daughter Number Two undergo a cosmetic dental procedure to rid her of the ‘unsightly’ gap between her teeth. You know, like the one I have? He has no idea who I am and all the ways that Daughter Number Two is a part of me and I of her. That however hard he tries he cannot erase me from her. Given the approaching season I’ve also been reflecting on the fact that Baby Daddy told Daughter Number Two that Santa was not real the year she turned six. He told her because she had found her presents. This pains me terribly, still, two years later. She’s eight now and still young enough to believe in that magic. But instead she chooses her own Christmas presents and she knows she is getting an xbox this year. Which is super great because as it happens she is meant to be spending Christmas with me but I can’t compete with the xbox buying and cannot deprive her of the Christmas morning she is already looking forward to. Despite all of it I am never unaware that Baby Daddy is her father and as much a part of her as I am. We are all medleys. 

I have been very raw lately. Small things rubbing against me like I am an open wound. Not unexpected with major life changes. We cannot stand still, we are always evolving. It is not always comfortable. The speaking opportunity given to me by Angelhands would not have happened if I had stayed where I was. I woke the other night when the soft, velvety head of my darling friend Frankie gently rested on my thigh. I had been having a nightmare and he woke me from it. How does he know? He always knows. As I gave Frankie my heartfelt thanks My One True Love rolled over and wrapped me in his arms, holding me tight. 

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(Frankie and me 🙂 ) 

I was thinking that ‘raw’ and ‘roar’ sound the same. 

raw

3.
(of an emotion or quality) strong and undisguised.
“he exuded an air of raw, vibrant masculinity”

They definitely fit me! Raw can also mean unfinished, which I am. And when I think of it like that it no longer feels like a negative.

roar

  • a loud, deep sound uttered by a person or crowd, generally as an expression of pain, anger, or approval.
    “he gave a roar of rage”
    synonyms: shout, bellow, yell, cry, howl, shriek, scream, screech

     
    antonyms: whisper
  • a loud outburst of laughter.
    “her remarks brought a roar of laughter from the old man”
    synonyms: guffaw, howl, hoot, shriek

    I do that; I laugh loudly. My One True Love is one of the funniest people I have ever known and my children are often hilarious, as are my friends, 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 and they are no more or less than each other. They just are. 

    So here I am and this is me! 

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    RAW AND ROARING! 

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Smile Though Your Heart is Breaking

So, on the plus side I know where I’m getting married! Ha ha ha ha! Ah, I kill me! Mmmmm….

Seriously though, in my head I am in a very bad place but outside my head I am in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. There are kangaroos hopping about outside and koalas up the road and all sorts of other wildlife and I might be able to enjoy it were it not for the fact I am so so lost.

It is very isolated though. Like ‘The Shining’ kind of a vibe. I don’t exactly know how I’m getting Son Number Two to school tomorrow and I need to get some things at the shops which will involve some ingenuity and quite a lot of hiking I expect. But I can’t hang out here forever and if I’m to get Son Number Two sorted I need to access civilization and get him to school. Because I did not realize how isolated we’d be I didn’t bring provisions. As a consequence we are dining in a gorgeous restaurant. If I have nothing else I still have the illusion of class. (Ha.) For tonight we eat like kings!

Within two minutes of arriving I had a lady sidle up to me and ask if I was with the Domestic Violence people. Yep, that’s how bad I look. She and her son, who is hearing impaired, had travelled here from interstate with her boyfriend who promptly assaulted her and abandoned her with the boy and two much loved dogs that are now likely to be put down. She just wants to go back where she came from. That perked me up no end. No, not really. What a world we live in.

The physiology still fascinates me. Naturally I have the shakes and am dizzy and unsteady on my feet, which makes moving a bit of a challenge. I still feel distant from everything and I can’t think because every time I do it means I cannot breathe. Which would be fine with me were it not for Son Number Two.

Good times, Interwebs, good times.

Shout.

 

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.

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