“I’ve only just begun to realise how strong I am”

Trigger warning: Before reading this post, be aware that it contains descriptions of childhood abuse and violence, self-harm, and rape.

(I’m not the best at writing so apologies for the format)
So where to begin. I’m 18 years old, born in Brisbane in the year 2000. I have an older brother who’s 7 years older, and one 7 years younger. This story starts with my parents.

My mother was adopted not long after she was born, as well as a few of her siblings. Her mum was raped by her mother’s dad. And she ended up having two kids to the man, unfortunately one was my mum. I don’t know much about it but I know she wrote a book and there were articles in the newspaper at the time about her story. My mum ended up having a few mental issues but in general fine. My mum had trouble coping with her life so she mucked around with drugs and alcohol. In her early twenties she had my older brother. No one knows who his father is, all we know is that there are two possible candidates. She did a few stupid things after my brother was born which unfortunately he remembers some of the events. A few years later she met my dad.

My dad, he would be 50 this year. Growing up for him was hard. He was in and out of foster homes, his parents, and hospitals as a child. When he was with his parents his mother was really rough on him. She would hit him with pots, stab him, cut him, even put a gun to his head. She belted him as well. He has scars all over his body from it. So does his brothers. My dad told me when he had nowhere to go he was kept in a hospital bed, as it was the only safe place. He ran away a few times but was always sent back. Once he turned 18 he ran away again. The police tried to convince him to go home but he didn’t. He ended up homeless for several years. I don’t know much after that. Besides meeting mum, having me and his parents death. His dad died a few years before I was born from appendicitis, just as he walked into the emergency room. I was about 5 when his mum died, I don’t know why.

So after I was born my mother became very sick. She ended up gaining weight, but it was just fluid. She had a hole in the heart was she had to wait for a heart transplant as it was too late to close the hole. I was 18 months when she died.

It took a toll on dad. He would cry for days, one stage he would rock back and forth almost squishing me. My brother ended up getting adopted by my uncle, my mums brother.

I don’t know when my dad and step mum got together but she was around my whole life. She has two children to my dads brother, so my step brothers are my cousins. Anyway, they got married and everything was OK. But once I turned 7, after my baby brother was born, everything went downhill. For about a year, it started with simple things like ignoring me, or getting me to clean the whole house, hang out laundry, clean my siblings rooms. But it slowly got worse, they began to hit me. The first memory I have of that happening was when I came home upset around 8, that the kids at school found out the my step mum wasn’t my real mum. I told her they found out and she yelled and slapped me. She dragged me by the hair to the walk in cupboard and I stood waiting for dad. He came home and she told him what happened. They took turns hitting my bum trying to tell me to stop lying and to own up to telling everyone when I never did. When they let me go to my room, they sent to the corner. I was so scared I pissed myself. My step mum walked in a saw the wet carpet. She told me I had to clean it. But she held my head the floor and told me to lick it so I did. After that I kept pissing myself often, so I was made to sit on the toilet all day, or stand in the laundry with my arms in the air for an hour or two.

After this kept going, I ended up stealing because I noticed it was the only way they would talk to me. My step mum ended up putting a nappy on me and made me sit in my baby brother’s high chair to feed me. I remember her saying to me,”if you want to be a baby this is what you get.” At one stage I had to walk around modelling the nappy. I remember being so embarrassed and ashamed.

So that was pretty much like this for years even when we moved. But at the new place, things changed, when they went out they ended up tying me to my bed with either chains or the straps used in his ute or trailer to keep things down when he drives. Getting smacked ended up happening almost every day.

We moved again to a new place, this time it had two stories. It was at the this house my step mum starting losing weight, and when they slowly stopped feeding me, as well as when I first got grounded. Everytime I itched my nose after I swept the floor, got food from friends at school, got upset at my siblings, or stealing yet again, I missed a meal. With the stealing I only ever stole from school (usually stationary or food) or home, generally the same thing. Worst thing I stole was an old phone of my step brothers.

I got grounded when I was 10, I can’t remember what for but I was never taken off that grounding, I was always told I was grounded up to the day I got kicked out.

So we moved again. They started locking me out the back every afternoon. They continued getting me to sit on the toilet all day. But when they got angry they would pick me up and hit my head against the wall. I ended up passing out twice. They got angry at me and and yelled at me and slapped me when I said I didn’t know why I passed out. From then on nearly every day my head was hit against something. One of worse things they’ve said to me was when I was made to change high schools to a school with a horrible reputation for major bullying, drugs and rapes, was “Maybe if you got raped you’d learn to keep your hands to yourself”. That really hurt.

Now I memory issues, and I get constant headaches. When I was 15, my father and step mother tried putting me in a mental hospital saying I had kleptomania. They stopped putting me through school once I finished year 10. A month before my 16 birthday my father left me at a women’s centre, as no mental hospital could take me as they said there was nothing wrong with me. A worker from the centre dropped me off at a refuge. I need up going on government payments so I could pay to stay at the refuge. I ended up going back to school to complete year 11 and 12.

About 3 months in at the refuge, my step Aunt got in contact with the refuge trying to find me. Apparently she found out I was kicked out from my grandma, so ended up searching for me. It took me awhile to trust her and open up to her. Eventually I developed a strong relationship with her and another of my aunts. After 6 months at the refuge I left and went to boarding school.

During that year I also met my mother’s side of the family that I was never allowed any contact with. I had finally met my older brother, who I hadn’t seen for over 6 years and hardly remembered him, my uncle and my grandmother.

When I was at the boarding school I was bullied alot as the girls ended up finding out bits and pieces of my past and after I kissed a girl, she told everyone I kissed her and I got bullied. Even when I got into year 12 it was still going on. It was a small school so everyone knew everyone. All the year 7 students (the lowest grade at the high school) found out and picked on me too. I was lucky as it was only verbal. But I ended up going on anti depressants when I started year 12 as I was caught self harming. For the past several years I’ve had trouble with self harming. Whenever I was alone I would cut my arms and legs with scissors, razors would ever I could find with a sharp edge to it. Half way through year 12 near my father’s birthday I tried killing myself by overdosing but I couldn’t bring myself to do it so instead I drank shampoo and conditioner. I was really sick for a few days.

With my aunts help I graduated year 12, and received my QCE (certificate from the education government acknowledging I successfully passed my senior studies). I ended up moving to Sydney. I moved in with my brother and his girlfriend. I was with them for 3 months when I left as my brothers girlfriend couldn’t cope with me, and ended up in another refuge. I was at that refuge for 2 months before I moved again and moved in with some friends from church.

It was horrible with them. They didn’t treat me like a housemate. They treated me like I was their kid. I got punishments like things taken away and had to lay bricks for the patio. I was given rules such as no boys in the room with the door closed, I had to get permission to have friends over and to go out. I hated it there. But it got worse. The two I lived with were dating, and the male made me touch his genitals, and made me have sex with him behind her back. This happened several times. I didn’t realise that I was sexually harassed and raped until I was talking with some other friends as I felt guilty that I made him cheat on his girlfriend. He tried telling one of my friends that I was psycho, saying I was always yelling but he always raised his voice at me. He always threatened to kick me out every time I tried telling him and his girlfriend didn’t like how I was treated which always lead to an argument. We argued all the time. It got so bad to the point I always ended up having a panic attack. So I stopped saying anything. He made me feel so guilty speaking up especially when I left.

When I left I ended up in another refuge around the corner from where they lived. I was still in contact with his girlfriend but rarely talked to her. I only got one text from her which asked me to meet her boyfriend at the park across from my house at 9 o’clock at night as he wanted to give me something. I said if it’s that important he can drop it at my mailbox. I’ve been told to tell the police on him but I’m too scared. He petrifies me.

At the refuge it was simple. But during the time I lived there, on a night out with my sister in law, I met my boyfriend. I would not have spoken to him if my sister in law didn’t say something to him first. We live together now. He has helped me so much. I feel safe and loved for the first time in my life. I no longer feel scared. But I do suffer from depression, anxiety and PTSD. I have bad social anxiety, I can’t be in crowds or in loud places otherwise I’ll break down. I am really sensitive and emotional and I tend to get angry for no reason. But my boyfriend supports me and he helps me through it. I’m still struggling with things now, but things are better.

I’ve only just begun to realise how strong I am. I’m proud of myself. So be proud of yourself too.

This is the first time I’ve told my story. So I apologise that its all over the place. But this is my story.