When we arrived at the station I was still shaking. My head was light and I still felt the overwhelming need to vomit. I had not slept in 24 hours and I felt weightless walking up the long stair case. Three daughters and my husband Michael had passed me now and were almost at the top. The detective looked back down at me and said ” are you okay”. I remember hearing her words , they were cold and seemed to lack any comprehension of my state my shock and trauma. How Could I be okay? I was walking into a police station to report my own father for sexually assaulting two of my young daughters. They had told us of their abuse the night before, the horror of it all still gripping every vain in my body. My father was a pedophile. Most likely up the road in the neighbouring suburb in his house with my mother enjoying his morning coffee.I got the feeling the detective just had no comprehension of the hell I was living as a mother and as a daughter now.
When we reached the top of the stair well the detective asked Michael and I to go into a room alone and be seated. While our three daughters were taken to the room next door , a playroom. I sat down on the cold plastic chair next to Michael , the door opened and Mel the detective walked back in accompanied by another male plain clothed child protection detective. They sat opposite us and began to brief us on the process ahead. I was still shaking , my ashen face focused on her words, her mouth. It was a surreal feeling , as if my body has been hijacked by someone other than myself, they say in trauma sometimes people start to see themselves looking down at their own body as if floating above, I started to feel this detachment now.I remember looking down at the floor desperate to spot a rubbish bin as my stomach swirled . There was nothing in this room, no bin no tissues, just empty.
The Detectives turned to me as told me I would need to make a statement in a room alone with one of them in a few minutes. Her words meant nothing to me as I sat there starring at my shaking hands, I tried desperately to force them under my legs on the plastic seat, to get them to stop moving, to control my body.
The briefing was over. I didn’t hear much of it, other than what i needed to do and that my husband Michael would now go back to the playroom to meet our daughters and then each child would be taken out the room into another alone with a detective to make a video statement of which we will not know what was said.
I walked behind the male detective up through a long dark passage, passing the girls playing on my right, I glanced through the glass at them. They were calm, they seemed okay, they were just playing as if nothing had happened , as if we were not with police at a station.
We entered a small small room with a desk a computer and two chairs. He gestured for me to sit opposite him in front of the desk and the computer. I didn’t know at this stage that would sit there for 5 hours, I would be alone, I would tell the truth, I would tell our story, I would shake uncontrollably, tears running down my numb face , and with the nausea coming and going in waves. He asked me to tell him every detail from the moment I found my father with pornography to the moment our daughters disclosed of their abuse by him. Every phone conversation, every face to face conversation I had had with my father, my mother and my brother from February through to March. He asked very detail once then twice to clarify exact timings and wording. After 5 hours of my statement he placed his hands behind his head and rocked back on his chair, a kind of dark smirk on his lips and he said ” your mother knew of their abuse. After everything you have told me in this statement there is no way she would not have known.”
He then said “we need you to do something now, something called a pre-text call, we need you to call your father, we need you to push him to confess. Most perpetrators crack under pressure, they feel caught out when they don’t expect the call. We need you to do this for your daughters, when this goes to court, it could make all the difference in terms of his charges.”
I was stunned. I looked at him and said, ‘ I can’t call him, I can’t do this, I don’t want to talk to him, NO. I think I am going to be sick, I need some thing.” He reassured me , said I would be fine, this is normal every one feels like this. He then placed the dicta-phone on the desk, told me he would place the call, that my father would have no idea where I was calling from. I asked him for some paper, I said I needed to write down what I was going to say, what questions I was going to ask my father if I did this.”
My hands started shaking profusely again, my head throbbed in the back of my skull and I felt my stomach drop as my fathers phone began to ring. I was alone now in the room , the detective told me he would be back after the phone call. I watched the dicta-phone red light pulse on the desk as my father answered. He was casual, happy almost that I had called him, he was calm. I was terrified now, my body moving rapidly on the plastic chair, my elbows twisting on the desk as my arms jolted uncontrollably. I said ” dad have you been hurting the girls?” , there was silence now, then his voice croaked back at me through the speaker as he said ” no , no what are you talking about?”. I pushed him again to own the abuse he had inflicted on my daughters, his own granddaughters. I said ” you know what you did, God knows what you did, dad, this is it, just tell me now. Did you hurt the girls?”
Every time, every question he denied, he was denying every thing, I was getting now where with him.I felt my anger rise up in my chest now. I felt the tension pulse into my hands, my fingers were folding into tight fists on the desk. Why couldn’t he own this, this was the second time he was caught, this was it, this was the time. I started yelling now, my voice bouncing off the tiny white walls around my frame in that office. I said “I AM DONE DAD, I AM REALLY DONE WITH YOU.” I reached down and touched the red end call button on my mobile in the desk, the speaker cut out, the dicta-phone still there, glaring at me, still flashing, still recording.
This was it now. He now knew I knew of the girls abuse. He knew I would go to the police, just like last time. He was trapped. He was cornered now, they would come for him. He would do time, he would be hand cuffed as before, and she would weep, there on the front lawn as they push his head down through the back door of the police car. All over again.
I was sitting back in the larger room now with Michael next to me after 5 hours of giving my statement. After 5 hours of our daughters being interrogated for their video statements with child protection detectives. They were debriefing us now before we left. before we were meant to go home, to pretend we were normal, pretend we were a happy family. Both detectives sat there, told us they had 4 charges to move in and make an arrest. With 4 counts of sexual assault on a minor, they said his sentence would be a long one. I remember looking at them, and thinking ‘you are talking to me as if I am mother who is reporting her daughters abuse perpetrated by a complete stranger’. But this was my own father, this was my dad, this was some one I thought I knew, this was some one I loved who had committed this horrifying crime against my girls. My legs began jolting again, my hands shaking , my head spinning, the room was lighter, whiter now.
They continued, they said we are going to make his arrest now, “we are going to the house with a search warrant to seize all computers in case of child pornography as well.” said Mel the Senior constable. You can go now.
We left the station. We drove in silence. We had nowhere to go, no place to feel safe now. He knew the police were coming. He knew I knew of the abuse. We had no where to go, we could not go home to our house now, what if he came there, what if he wanted to harm us, what if he was angry.
We drove around suburbs, houses, happy houses. Lost and alone for what seemed like hours. The detective called my mobile she said ” we are at the house, it’s locked. Do you know where we can get a key. There is a window in the middle of the top floor that’s open, is this normal?” To which i replied, ” no, that’s the top of the stair case, that window is never open! She said ” do we need to force entry then?’ I said, “yes please force entry, he threatened to kill himself last time we was arrested.” She then asked for my mothers mobile number.She was she was teaching up the road at a school, her school, unaware of what was happening, unaware he husband had run away, that the police were after him. The detective said ” you will need to tell her of your daughters abuse, we will not be informing her of any thing, all we have is a search warrant for the house.”
She collapsed when the police called her at work, I found out later. She asked a colleague to drive her to her house that day to meet police and he was gone.
We drove for a few hours. We stopped at a park. I told Michael I would stay in the car, I didn’t want to get out. I felt exhausted now.He climbed out and took the three girls off to a playground in the distance, they were happy, they were playing together. I sat and I prayed , the tears streaming down my face, I felt so helpless, so scared, I didn’t know where he was now, he was on the run and it terrified me. My own father was haunting me.
I cried out to God. I wept as I watched my family in the distance. It started raining then, the heavens opened. They were running. They ran towards the underneath of the slide, they huddled together, Michael and the girls. I jumped out the car in the pouring rain, opened the boot and grabbed three umbrella’s, my orange sandals slipping in the water. I started running across the open field towards them. I cried out to God in that moment , tears fogging up my eyes making it hard to see. I said ” Where is he God, where is my father?”
He answered and repeated the same phrase over and over and over, loud and distinct to me. he said ” It is done, it is over now.”
The detective called Michael’s mobile, and my heart sank. I thought they may have found his body, that he had hung himself in the house , in the house above the stair case.There was a note, they said he had left for her. It told her the marriage was over, it was clearly a suicide note. That he was gone, that he was now classed as a missing person. She said they would be tracking his phone, they would find him. If they found his body the next of kin would only be notified. My mother would be notified and we would not.
We went to the at the airport, Michael’s father had flown interstate to be with us, he had got on the earliest plane. We were lost and didn’t know what to do next, we were moving minute by minute through each hurdle of that day. I called my mothers phone and her colleague answered at their house. I asked her to tell my mother that my father, her husband had been abusing my daughters and we had gone to police. She said she would replay the information word for word and I hung up.
Michael and his dad dropped us at the nearest shopping center at 6pm while they went back to our house and loaded the car with clothes, toys and school uniforms for the next day. I called a friend across town, she told us to come to stay the night. I told her I was terrified my father was going to come to our house, to threaten us, to kill himself in front of us even. With the car fill of belongings we drove across town for the next hour. I felt some what safer in our plan we now had. We had Michael’s dad, and we had friends to help us, we would survive this nightmare.
My father was missing for 3 days. He had run from the police after sexually assaulting my daughters. He drove and hour and a half to bush land up north of the city to a deserted country road and he hung himself.