I wanted to grieve father’s suicide, but I felt sickened by the fact that he had done it to escape his consequences for abusing my daughters. I had never felt more torn in my life. This mix of the two emotions at such a juxtaposition, both hating each other and me hating them. I really did miss him at this stage, I cried a lot when ever I was alone, mostly driving some where ( he had taught me to drive), after dropping the kids off at school in the morning, the tears would stream down my face , unrelenting. I had loved him dearly , I had known him for 35 years although I felt our relationship had all been a lie, and he was the biggest fraud I would ever know. What we had had wasn’t real because the whole time he was living another life I knew nothing of, a life as a pedophile.
Yet my own grief for him as my father was overwhelming at times.In meeting with my therapist weekly she told me maybe I needed to create a memorial to say goodbye to him somewhere. But what and where was my challenge, somewhere , where my own daughters would not find it and be haunted. That day I went to the hardware store bought some resin and soaked a running badge I had received in primary school for cross-country, in it. I had loved running with my dad, that was our thing, that’s when I had felt closest to him. I took the hardened badge and nailed it to a gum tree far into the bush land on our property, and wrote with a marker ” goodbye dad, love me”. It felt right, it felt like I could try and get some closure.
The next months that followed were my most painful and darkest. I was struggling to support my daughters as a mother especially when they constantly disclosed of their abuse by my own father. Finding the right words when your five-year old tells you she feels angry because of what her grandfather did was excoriating to hear.
Most times we would sit and she would talk and she would tell me her feelings mixed into a cocktail of her horrific details of times and places and scenarios. I would tell her she is so brave, and it was not her fault and her emotions were understandable time and time again, like a broken record, beacuse that was all I had , that was all I could do to help her.
Some days I would feel like I had gained my strength and I was coping with everything and then in the evening my daughters disclosure would hit me like a freight train, I would go to bed at night praying my dreams would not be haunted by my fathers image and my child’s abuse by him. I would lie awake for hours at a time staring at the dark ceiling dreading when sleep would come. Dreading the night sweats, the anger, the screaming. I knew after a few weeks of Post traumatic stress that I was not coping. That my lack of sleep was affecting my life. I needed something to help, some kind of medication for the evenings when my daughter words created haunting images in my head when I was trying to sleep or finally did. I opted for a strong natural type yet powerful enough to literally knock me out within half an hour, some nights I took them and some nights I didn’t based on where my head was at that night. Some nights I was frustrated because I hadn’t.
Over time my anger towards my father had swallowed up my grief. I was so angry with his sickening behaviour my anger couldn’t tolerate my memorial in the bottom of the property. I was annoyed with myself for creating it, annoyed with the idea of saying goodbye to such a monster . I took a hammer to it days later, slamming the metal into the badge and shattering it into tiny pieces over and over again. I scratched away my words to him and left the huge gum tree in its original state, majestic, tall and beautiful again.
All that was left was anger now. Every week I would take our daughter to her therapy session. We would sit together in the brightly themed waiting room, she would draw or watch the re-run movie each time. Mostly the other children in the waiting room had learning difficulty’s such as ADHD or ADD or autism of sort. My daughter looked out-of-place to be there, amidst the screaming and tantrums and tough negotiations between therapist , parents and child. Yet I felt deep sadness when I went into see the therapist first, for a briefing of her progress and saw the degree of her trauma. Images in her drawings would make tears spill over, details of her disclosed stories would make my heart literally hurt inside and the guilt would raise its infamous head again. I would leave feeling alone, devastated by her horror and burdened by the weight of my deep sadness.
The fees were stacking up now, the therapy costs bulging into the thousands, the credit card in a dire state. And then a close friend asked me if I had heard of victims of crime. She said to google it. I came home and did just that and then found a number and called them, Victims Link up. 1300 546 587 From what I had read, they could possibly help us pay for counseling costs for each family member. They were kind and understanding on the phone when I told them our story in short, they sent out the paper work within a matter of days and the journey of dealing with the Justice Department began. I was grateful to know that the government really did care for people like us, people who has suffered at the hands of a criminal and reported it. Why had the police not told us of Victims of crime, why had therapists not told us either, I felt we had been let down by them.
I felt slightly over whelmed by the task when I placed the papers out on the table. I had to make a claim for each family member, we would not be assessed as one unit, each of us had 15 pages I needed to fill out. Each time I would have to face my demons and re-write our story’s details over and over, they required detective contact details and station names, reporting dates and times, and all receipts from any counseling sessions so far. The enormity of the task ahead was huge, and there was no guaranty that we would be successful in our claims either ,yet I felt compelled to take it on for our daughters, and their futures ahead.