Tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
On the 19th May 2016, I went to a Brisbane Hotel, with my partner, to tell my story to a Commissioner from Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse.
Funnily, I was not nervous, I had an overpowering determination to tell my story, to face any questions, and to put forward any ideas, that could change the way Child Abuse is handled in Australia.
The commissioner I spoke to was Bob Atkinson. For those who don’t know who Bob Atkinson is, he is the retired Queensland Police Commissioner. Now I had seen Bob on television, and I knew who he was. I think there was a little relief, that the person I was speaking to, wasn’t a total stranger to me.
When I entered the room for my appointment, there he was, standing with a hand out to me, and a warm smile. I took his hand and we looked at each other…and then I got nervous…I didn’t know what to call him. When I told him I wasn’t sure, he replied, “Just call me Bob.”
After telling me what was going to happen and explaining there would be a lot of hard questions asked, slowly but surely we started going through the madness that is my life.
Bob asked me a lot of questions, he kept asking me if it was I ok to keep going. I have never felt stronger in my whole life. I told him that this was the one chance I had to be heard, and he could ask me anything, no matter how hard, or uncomfortable it was.
So slowly step by step, question by question, over quite a long period of time, he unraveled the neglect and abuse I have suffered, and still suffer to this day. It wasn’t pretty, there was and is no happy ending, but there was a quiet peace in the room, and every despicable horror, was laid out on the table for him to see.
I was and am so proud of myself, something I really am not used to being.
Meet ‘Little Dee’
You see I have always carried a little girl around with me that only I can see. I refer to her as ‘Little Dee’. She is broken, she is dirty, she can’t speak for herself, she is mute. She is covered in blood and scratches, and teeth marks. Her hair is mattered, she wears a torn dress, no shoes on her feet…and she has haunted me for 45 years.
What Commissioner Bob could not see that day was little Dee…although he heard about her. He treated her in the most kind, respectful, dignified way that he could.
I have hated myself all of my life, because I didn’t fight harder, didn’t scream enough…I let little Dee down…and she suffered terribly. But here I was sitting with that grubby little girl, I could feel her right beside me, and she was smiling at me. Her and my tears intertwined, and she had her day of reckoning.
When our time was over, I was thanked for my time, my honesty and my courage. However, something was different, I could feel it. I felt strangely peaceful.
My partner and I called for a taxi, and we walked out of the hotel. The sun was brilliant. There was a little breeze, and then in the corner of my mind I saw her. It wasn’t little Dee anymore, it was little me. We were one, and she was beautiful. She skipped among the flower beds, she had a pretty little sundress on, and her fingertips were brushing the flowers, as she skipped past…and she was smiling!
It’s three days since my evidence was given, and I am still enjoying some peace. Do I think things will stay this way, as much as I would love them to? I know they won’t. The are some things that are just too painful, too soul destroying and too much for anyone to bare.
However, I left that broken little girl behind last week, and now it’s time to work on the woman she grew into.
Be kind to yourself,