pieces of pieces

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 image from : http://www.flickr.com

 

So now we move on as a family, me with my three daughters and Husband after horrific trauma. With two of my precious girls having been sexually abused by my own father for two years and then after reporting it to police, my father committing suicide.

We moved out of our home to live with close friends across town to get away from any family arriving for his funeral, family which might arrive at our house, family which might tell our children my father had now died after they had just disclosed of their own abuse from him.We were broken parents and I was a broken mother, trying desperately to survive and protect my kids, I called bravehearts crisis line to try and get some help. I told them of our case of our story and that we needed help.They informed me that the waiting list for counseling was extensive, months and months long and that they couldn’t do any thing for us at this stage. I knew we had to get help and we would have to pay, a lot, but my girls needed more than I could give them now. We barely made ends meet as it was living on one salary, and this would push us into thousands on the credit card. The guilt of that financial burden consumed me now also, as my family, my parents had done this to us.

I knew my brother had arrived from overseas now and his wife and four children, my mothers sister and her family had flown down too, all to be with my mother, who was now a widow. She had not come over, my mother had done what she needed to do, for herself now, she had not even tried to see if we were okay, if her granddaughters were alright. She called pastors to the house and family came to her to be with her. I felt the deepest sadness in her response to us and to me as her daughter, she had chosen to turn her back on me once more. I felt rejected and hurt. I was lost and now grieving her and my brother. My fathers grief came in waves in the beginning, I was still in shock over his choice to take his life ,yet anger consumed my every being too as he had abused my own daughters. Minute by minute waves of grief came in then in an instant the hatred and anger I felt towards him would wash away my grief .

Surviving now was my main focus. I struggled to eat, to sleep and function with daily life with our girls and husband but deep down I knew I had to. I had to do what ever I could for them, the people I loved the most.The people who were also broken and hurting.

We met with countless doctors to get mental health plans for each of us, we were questioned and interrogated over and over. I called a private counseling practice to help us called Child Aware and we dived head first into week upon week of therapy for ourselves, all at differing times and days. I drove and drove for them. My husband Michael and I were in and out of sessions together to try and work out how to tell the girls that their grandfather had committed suicide. What words to use for each child and when and where to tell them. The fear of my youngest two thinking that this was their fault gripped me daily, they had suffered enough because they were abused by him and now he was dead. How do you tell a five and an eight year old some one they were extremely close to has taken his life? How would they feel because he had hurt them so much in the past two years, would they be relieved or would they grieve? Would they experience both grief and relief?

I wept with the principle in our meeting. He was going to tell all three teachers of the girls trauma and abuse as I knew I couldn’t meet on three different occasions with the staff and retell this horrific story. He told me with sadness that this was common too, that lots of families go through this with abused children. He told me no matter what that I needed to get them to school every day, they needed routine, they needed consistency and normality in their lives.

The funeral came and went on a Monday. I did not go, I could not go, the family would be there and my own mother had not told many many people of the girls abuse by him. She had made the conscious choice to ignore our trauma and focus on her own grief. I could not celebrate my fathers life in any capacity and I knew at this stage I probably would never be able to. I had loved him dearly but I had no idea who he really was, that he was hurting children. He had lived a double life with me. My relationship with him felt fake now and he was a fraud, what we had as father and daughter was not real, not honest and seriously twisted beyond belief.

A friend called us and offered to pay for our tickets inter-state. He had said “we want to help you and your family, you need to get away, away from here. You need to be with the only family you have left now, so please take the money and go, please.” We left on east Sunday , got on the plane with our three young daughters and made the 5 hours flight inter-state to be with Michael’s family. My only family I would have from now on. The trauma of the last few weeks still raw and unnerving, he held each other across our seats and cried until we landed.

We were loved and we were welcomed by his family , although I found it incredibly hard to even look them in the eyes some times, the guilt still there still eating away at me. I had taken their grand children away from them to be with my own parents and my own father had abused them. I felt such shame because of him. We woke one morning and drove the girls to a beautiful beach as planned. We sat them on the sand and we told them. ” we have something very sad to tell you girls, sad and serious. Remember we told you Granddad had a sickness in his mind, well he has died.”

The youngest two were calm , blank and calm, just starring at us. They didn’t respond, I was confused and thought maybe they don’t understand death yet, maybe they are relieved like I thought they might be?  and our oldest daughter Layla just wept. I stood her up , placed  my arm firmly around her shoulder and we started walking towards the shore line. She looked up at me, tears pouring down her cheeks and said ” did he commit suicide mom? I was shocked that she knew that word at 10 years old, but had been well prepared I guess from her therapist that she might, I tried to grab at the right words all jumbled, floating around my head, the words we had been told to say. I said ” yes Layla he did. He was not well in his head. You know he was hurting your sisters. He was depressed and confused , and mentally just not a well person. He chose to do this, he chose to take his life. No one made him. He just didn’t want to live any more, and this was his decision.”

She kept looking up at me, focused on each word as it exited my lips.She then said ” how did he do it?”  tears still running down her small face beneath my chin line. I replied with the truth ” I don’t know how he did it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The police

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

my family in crisis..

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It was a Wednesday night 7pm, we had just told our three daughters that they could no longer see their grandfather as he posed a risk to them.

An hour had passed since their sadness at the news. We were ready to put them to bed, to tuck them up and say goodnight. We brushed their teeth together my husband and I and I tucked our youngest daughter the 5 year old, Emily into her bed , kissed her said goodnight and left the room to say good night to my oldest daughter who’s 10, Layla, in the room next door. When I was in there a few minutes had passed and my husband shouted out to me that our youngest daughter,  Emily wanted to see me again. I felt frustrated. I left to go back to her after I had already said goodnight.

She lay there looking up at me her blue eyes wide and staring intently. She said “He’s been touching me , grandad has been touching me..”. She was referring to my father, her grandfather.

The horror of her words had struck me like blow to the head with an blunt object. I looked down at her and said “what did you say?” she repeated her words and they raced through my ears forcing my adrenaline to kick in. I was horrified, as a mother they are the words you never want to ever hear from your child, a five year old.

No one had prepared me for this moment in life, as a mother. I knew every thing form here on would be different now, nothing would ever be the same for me and for my child.

I was stunned and struggled to choke up my words . She started sobbing , threw he tiny head in my lap and gripped my shirt with both fists. I grabbed her face pulled her upwards to look me in the eye and said ” it is not your fault, you did nothing wrong, do you hear me Emily you did nothing wrong.” I forced my words out again amidst my building rage and said ” you are so brave , the bravest girl I know thank you for telling mommy.”

I then said ” did this happen a few times or a lot Emily?” She answered with “a lot.” It felt my blood curdle in my veins, my hands balled into tight fits at her words.

After a few minutes I stood up said I would be back and turned to walk down the passage. I needed to find him, Michael my husband, where was he. As I walked I could feel the shock building in my chest, like a tight vice of two firm hands holding my throat, my airways now closing. My legs began to weaken and I felt violently ill, like I was going to vomit. As I got to the door way of my middle daughters bedroom, Ella, she called me in. I walked to her bedside she looked up at me and poured the words out ” I heard what Emily said to you, and its been happening to me too.”

I repeated the same words I had just before said to Emily and ran down the passage to find him.

He was in the kitchen, oblivious to my terror.

I looked into his eyes and waited to find that second where I knew my words would come, I opened my mouth , my jaw wide, yet no sound escaped.

He starred at me , looking deep into my eyes and said “what”. I knew my flesh was pale, I knew I was in shock already, it was too late for me. And here I was looking back at my soul mate , my husband the father to our three daughters, about to dispel the most horrific information, that was going to launch him into shock, into my current state, mixed with a hurricane of his rage.

I didn’t hear myself say the words, my ears were now ostracized from the rest of my body, still processing her little 5 year old words. I know they came fast, unrelenting to achieve their outcome, I could see by his eyes as the pupils now reached full dilation and his brow contorted inwards. He had heard my horror.

We were now broken parents together. He was fixated on my face, sought clarification of my words as if not believing them.

“What, did you say they were abused?”, “by him?”.

I couldn’t propel any more sentences from my cold lips now, my brain was in a state of full traumatic shock, I knew now because I began to shake. My entire body was enveloped with uncontrollable jolting.

I needed to sit but I was paralysed in the kitchen, standing in front of my now broken man.

He started yelling in a frenzied way, at no one, at the house, at the walls , at the floors at this place at him even though he was not here.

My father had done this , my own father had sexually assaulted the people most precious to me in my life, the little girls I had made, the little daughters God gave me. He had ruined their lives, taken their innocence and smashed it into obliteration.

Here I was now, their mother standing with their father , Michael left with nothing but horror.

Michael looked into my tortured eyes and said ”I am calling the police”.

My mind raced, trying to process pieces of this recent history, these last few days, weeks and month. I was clutching at any thing my distorted mind could hurl at me….

how long had the abuse taken place with them?

where were they when it happened?

who was there in the room at that time?,

My own mother, Rebecka was there, because she always said she was, she swore she would never leave them alone with him, but she did obviously, unless she has played a part in this perverse Crime.

Why didn’t she tell us if she knew, why didn’t she tell us if she was concerned so we could have taken appropriate action to protect our babies.

Did my parents collaborate, was this an act of child abuse they were both a part of?

Why had she called 6 days prior begging me, hysterically urging me not to go to the police, when I knew nothing of the girls abuse.

Ella, came running down the passage towards me, she was hysterical. Fear had now consumed her tiny body, she was screaming and looking out the dark windows into the night. I grabbed her tiny frame in my arms and carried her to the couch, put both my hands around her jaw and looked into her bright blue reddened eyes. I said to her ” he is not coming here do you hear me Ella, he is not coming to this house, you are safe, your mama and your papa are with you, God is with us, and you are safe.”

I knew at this moment with her I would fight the fight , that fear would have no place in amongst her courage of disclosure.

He came in and I placed her shaking body into his open strong arms and walked into the next room.

I began to howl, it was as if a beast within my traumatized body now needed to exist.

I knew that this was beyond my own ability to deal with as a mother as a human, that I only had one hope of surviving this horror, and I cried out, amidst howls of anger to God. My face squashed into a couch in the study, my knees grinding as I knelt on the hard floor, in this moment I knew I was a broken woman, a broken mother. I don’t know how long i screamed and howled into the night, it felt like hours had passed.

I then stood in panic at as the silence of the house struck my consciousness, where were they, where were the kids and my husband. I listened, still shaking uncontrollably, and then I felt my body lose its capacity to hold liquid in my bladder.I was standing in my own urine.

I heard them moments later in the lower part of the garden, safe and laughing. He must have taken them outside, to the swing below in the dark, because mommy had begun to howl. He had distracted them and taken them out the house. I was alone.

That night they didn’t come. The police, didn’t come out to us, instead they told us to wait until the morning and they would call us when their specialist child protection  detectives came on shift at 7am. I really thought they would come to us, to help us, to be there to talk to us, we were a broken family and in crisis now.

 

 

Protective instincts kick in

 

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It was February when I found him. It was 2pm on a Thursday, the 18th.

I had gone to my parents house, he didn’t know I was coming early.

We had arranged to have afternoon tea together , my father , my  two youngest girls, Ella, Emily and I. I was going to pick them up from school up the road and go over to their house with them while we waited for my oldest daughter, Layla to finish touch foot ball training at school. He had said he was excited, it would be good to see us and he would get some snacks for the kids. We hadn’t seen each other for awhile because they were renovating their house.

But on this day its 35 degrees, it was summer and it was hot. I had the puppy with me in a crate in the car and thought I should drop the dog off with my father early then drive up the road to school to get the girls. I was worried the puppy would over heat in the hot car while I went into school to get them. He didn’t know I was coming earlier than planned.

When I arrived I walked under the half open garage door ,opened the inter-leading door to the house and yelled “dad”. To which there was no reply. I then walked out the front of the house and saw their new caravan was closed up and thought. ‘he must be working in there with the air-conditioning on as its so hot’.

As I started walking towards the door to the caravan my heart was racing, everything had slowed in time now, it was literally step by step as I approached. My head was telling me to knock on the door, but clear as day this voice said to me ” do not knock, just open it, please listen and open it.”  At this point I knew it was God’s voice. I hadn’t prayed much over the last few months and didn’t feel very close or connected to God but this time I just knew it was him.

I reached down , gripped the door handle firmly in my right hand and pulled it down, hard and fast.

It was then I was confronted with the horror. The horror of my father completely naked in front of a laptop on the table.He was watching pornography. I could only just see the screen, it was on an angle and I could only make out a video with flesh moving. I just knew it was pornography. He had had this problem his whole  life, when I was growing up, so I knew.

But this was different. My mother had disclosed that he was heavily into online pornography prior to sexually abusing my 9 year old cousin 12 years ago, and here he was still doing it. Still doing it after being charged with his crime, after being handcuffed and locked in a police cell for a night. After serving a community sentence and being listed.

I dropped the dog crate in the door while he jumped behind the kitchen bench and he started mumbling all the excuses, ” its hot, I was hot.” His eyes darting all over the place, he wouldn’t look at me. And I left.

I drove to school to get my daughters, I was so angry, my finger nails were digging into the flesh of my palms on the steering. I hated him, I hated the fact that that he was still “sick” that he was never rehabilitated, that it was all lies. That he now posed a huge risk to my family to my three girls.

I got the girls , drove back to his house and approached the caravan. I told him I would not be bringing the girls in to see him, we would not be staying for afternoon tea as planned. I picked up the dog crate by the handle and turned to leave. He said “but I brought ice-creams for them”, he then asked to give them one each while they sat in the Van.

He handed them each one and we left.

That night when my husband, Michael got home I told him I had found my father with pornography. He was shocked. We sat we talked about what to do and that he could never see our daughters again because of the risked he posed to them given his history of child abuse.

A few days went by, I went to a doctor got on a mental health plan and started seeing a psychologist as I felt I was not coping. I felt once again isolated by the shame of my father, I could not confide in any one, all my friends are mothers themselves. What would they think of me, what would they think if I told them my fathers history.I felt cornered and trapped by fathers actions.

We had a prior arranged social dinner at mutual friends with my parents for the Saturday. We went, and he was strange, towards my husband and I, he struggled to give us eye contact and he drank beer after beer.

He sat one chair away from me with my 5 year old daughter sitting on his lap, later this image would haunt me.

That would be the last time I saw him.

My brother called from Over-seas and begged me to reconcile with my father, to meet with him and talk. He also said he had known of my fathers on-going issue with pornography even since my father had abused my cousin, Sienna, 12 years ago.

I called my father a few days later , told him we needed to meet to discuss what had happened and how things would change with him and my girls. He was vague and non committal.He was riddled with shame didn’t converse much, he was very quiet on the phone.

Then as a plan of action because I was not coping with every thing , Michael decided he would meet my mother, Rebecka to tell her, at her school where she was a teacher. He would tell her that I had found my father with pornography and how things would change with our daughters and him.

He took time off and went to meet her on a Tuesday afternoon at 4pm after school had finished and every one had gone home. I was at home with the girls that afternoon, and paced around the house, my anxiety had peaked. I started praying. I wept and he said ” she knows already.”

When Michael came home I rushed out to meet him, he was ashen in color and quiet, I turned to him and asked him what she said. He looked me in the eyes and said ” she already knew he was back into pornography, she said “this has been an on-going issue in their marriage for a while now”. He said “when we talked at her school she was shaking and crying and said “she didn’t know what to do.”

I was shocked, my mother had confided in my brother of my fathers mental state but both of them chose not to tell us when they knew our daughters were at risk. Both of them knew my father was back into online pornography which was a prior sign  last time before he committed a  crime.

I remember feeling sorry for her at this point. I thought maybe this was the last straw in her marriage with him, maybe she would leave him now.

She arrived 10 minutes later. A mess, tears pouring down her face, she climbed out the car and asked me what I had seen that Thursday when I found him. I told her and I said ” mom you know what this means, you know he is a risk to the girls now, he can’t see them.” . The phone rang, her phone. She answered and it was him. She was on the phone for 5 minutes hung up and turned to me and said ” what did you really see, he said he was watching a documentary on Pompei.” She started to interrogate me and question me.

I knew then the tables had flipped. She was once again siding with her husband

She then came in our house sat down and cried with Michael and I. She went on to say ‘he has a real problem with pornography, he’s addicted, he has been for years really. He needs help.If its God’s calling in my life to help this man then that is my calling.”

I was shocked by her words. Numb really. I kept saying ‘but now he can’t see the girls mom you know he’s a risk to them.”

She left and went home to my father that night.

She called me the next morning at 7am, while I was getting the kids ready to leave for school. She was crying hysterically, driving some where. She said ” we’re just really worried, your father is really anxious now. Please don’t report this to the police.” I was shocked, my anger building in my throat. I shouted back at her through the phone ” last time it was child abuse when we reported it with police, this time it’s pornography, right?, why would we report pornography?”

She went quiet and I hung up. I was clouded by confusion from the phone call.

I met with the psych every week and started to come to the conclusion that I would have to be estranged from my parents. That I could not see them as my father posed a risk to my daughters and he was not well.

She advised me to call parent help line to determine what to say to the girls. They had all been really close to their grandfather over the last 2 years since arriving here, they loved him and now we their parents had to tell them they could not see him any more.

I then wrote my mother a letter, amid floods of tears and  posted it two days later. I told her I was angry with her for not telling me that he was back into pornography, which meant be posed a huge threat to my children’s safety. I told her she had jeopardized them. And that God didn’t want her to suffer any more, but to be happy. She did deserve happiness but she needed to walk away.

That day I posted that letter I called Parent help line and they told me to tell each child separately .. ” grandad has a sickness in his mind and he might hurt you so you can’t see him any more.”. I then called my husband at work and asked him to come home soon so we could tell the girls.

We sat each child, each daughter, down one by one and told them that night. “grandad has a sickness in his mind and he might hurt you so you cant see him any more.”. Our youngest Emily, who was now 5 years old threw her head in my lap and wept. The middle daughter, Ella who was 8 years old was very cold and said absolutely nothing. And our eldest daughter, Layla wept on my shoulder for ages.

We then spent time with them as we didn’t want to put them to bed sad or upset. We watched funny Tv shows and laughed and ate ice-creams.

An hour later our lives would change forever.

 

 

 

 

 

a mother’s deceit …

 

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Our life inter-state was good, although it didn’t feel like it at the time. It was good but predominately hard.

We bought an apartment after having our first child, Layla and moved in a day after I was out of hospital with her. He went back to the work that day too as the labor had been 3 days and I had been in hospital for 5 days after the hemorrhage, his paternity leave for a week was used.

We got married on a beautiful beach , on a hot February day ,with his family and our 4 month old baby, Layla. He asked me if I wanted my parents there that day, and I replied with a “no.” It was too complicated for me, I wanted this day untainted, perfect and memorable not awkward and difficult.

We struggled in the confines a very small apartment with the baby in our room. Michael had big dreams, he was climbing the corporate ladder so to speak, he was a manager for a large company, and started traveling a lot for work, Chile, China, Europe ect.

I was part of a mother’s group , one the hospital had put me in contact with. It was a life line for me really, we only met once a week but sometimes they were the only adult conversations I had during my day as a stay at home mum with a trying new born, Layla.I was the youngest mother there and struggled to forge meaningful relationships but week after week I went to keep trying, to stay connected to make friends.Eventually after a year of going I felt I was really part of something, I wasn’t alone and I had friends who were mothers too.

We bought a modest size block of land on a hill in an lower socioeconomic suburb said ‘to improve shortly”, by the real estate agent, 2 kilometers from the beach. My husband, Michael, changed jobs and started working for a College as a Manager there.

We Rented for two years in a neighboring suburb while we built our new home. We had another beautiful baby , Ella and bought a puppy. I was home every day with a two year old toddler, Layla and a new born, Ella, with severe colic. Interesting times to say the least , looking back now, she screamed for 4 months and then we put her on formula as the pediatrician determined she was most likely dairy intolerant. She stopped screaming and I was happy once again.

We moved into our new home, had no money left but had green lawn and a brick 4 bedroom house near the beach, we were blessed. Michael kept working , changed jobs 4 or so  more times, kept earning more and seeing less of us. I had to do it all, chop the wood in the driving winter rain for the pot belly fire place, mow the grass in summer with a baby strapped to my back and get the oldest to Kinder-garden and then later Pre-primary with a baby , puppy and house to run.

One of the down sides of being a young parent by choice is that you don’t have grandparents for you children who are retired yet. So we saw his parents Bianca and Peter, but they were both still working. We met for social occasions had wonderful meals together and then went home. His mom, Bianca, took the toddler to a gym class once a week which was something I couldn’t do for her and that was special time together for them. I was grateful for this.

I was told by my doctor I  had high cholesterol due to my inability to actually exercise with a baby and toddler so Michael,got me a gym contract with a great creche facility and I got fit and had a break from the children.

A few years went by and we decided to have our third child, Emily. She was perfect, healthy and beautiful, didn’t sleep much like her sisters and also later said to have mild dairy intolerance like her sisters. So breastfeeding stopped once again and prescription Neocate formula was introduced once again.

I tried hard to re-build the relationship with my mother Rebecka, and then eventually my father as well. During these years , 10 in fact, I talked on the phone to her most days,  and she came to visit a few times alone to see the kids. We went to America for Michael’s work and we flew her over by herself in her school holidays to look after our now three children. The relationship was good but far from perfect. Rebecka my mother, was still angry with me for reporting my father to police all those years ago for child abuse against my cousin.

She would call me sometimes at 5pm, while I had a crying baby strapped to my chest in a ‘baby bjorn’, a toddler and a 5 year old fighting on the floor and dinner on the go. She would tell me about him, my father, she said how he was struggling sometimes after the crime he had committed, she would tell me the police had been over, checked his cars and the house.

She made me mad some times, like she wanted me to feel guilty, it was like  acid on me.She told me how she had found out about the abuse of her niece. That my uncle, Robert, ,Sienna’s father had confronted my father at the house to question him about what his daughter had told them happened to her, my father had denied every thing. That afternoon when she came home from school where she taught, my father confessed and told her what he had done to Sienna, how he had been abusing her. He had felt cornered, trapped by other adults now knowing and he knew he needed to tell her , his wife Rebecka, he had no option.

My mother said ”he was a good person now, rehabilitated after all these years, he went to church , read his bible a lot and was different’. She disclosed details about his mental state prior to and after the abuse of Sienna, my cousin. She said ‘he was depressed prior to the crime he committed, he was heavily into pornography online as well, almost addicted really’.  He had recently been made redundant, lost his job, and his mother had passed away.

I knew he had always had issues with online pornography growing up any way, I had often found it on the home computer when I went to research some thing. They often fought over it.

I tried hard to pick up the phone and call him some times, it was confronting because we had never actually spoken about what he did, about the crime he had committed. I wanted to mend things with him but it was very hard for me to do that with him. Eventually as the years went by they both came over on holiday to see us. My husband ,Michael , my mother ,Rebecka and I discussed how things would work with him, we told her he could never even for one minute be left alone in a room with the kids. She always reassured us that she would be vigilant, that she would protect them and watch them at all times. We never went out as a couple when they stayed as I want not comfortable with that, I wanted to always keep an eye on him myself to protect my babies in case he had not changed.

This arrangement went on for 10 years while we lived inter-state, they both came over maybe only 3 times in total and we as parents were always watching our children with him. I attended a child protection course and learnt all the things I needed to teach my children to prevent any type of abuse ever taking place. We role played at home a lot and I bought books for them to read as toddlers about their bodies and secrets.

I flew inter-state on a few occasions by myself to try and re-build my relationship with my parents.

After 10 years away we decided to sell our house and move back to live near my parents across the country . I felt comfortable that my father was not a prominent threat to my children and that we a family could live there. We still agreed that he would never be left alone with our children.I or my mother would always be with them. It took 8 months to sell our house, the nicest house in a poor suburb.

We packed our house up into a shipping container ourselves, loaded our car and drove  across the country with our three kids aged 8,6 and 3 and the dog.

We arrived 10 days later. A place I knew well, having lived there for 5 years before and Michael did too having lived there for 3 years also. It kinda felt like home again for me. We enrolled the kids into a primary school and moved in with my parents while Michael looked for a job. I stayed home with our three year old, Emily, and tried to establish new friendships with other moms, joined a play group and spent time with her. Michael was at home, my parents house looking for work and my father working 3 days or so as a consultant. I was always with our youngest daughter.

I joined my parents church, and went every Sunday with them, I sat next to my father and listened to sermon after sermon. The kids loved the Sunday school and I felt it was good for all of us.Michael, didn’t come, he believes in God but isn’t religious as such.

After 4 months he found a job and we moved out, into a rental apartment in a flash suburb 20 minutes away. We saw them often still, every second weekend at least and some times they would baby sit the kids for us so we could go out. During this time my mother, Rebecka, always reassured us that she was always with them, that she would never leave him alone with our kids.

Our youngest started kinder-garden at 4 years old, a few days a week and during that time I spent a lot of time with my father, I would stop in and visit him when he was home and we would often go for coffee together. I felt close to him again, like I was his daughter after all these apart. I was 34 now and I felt like I had good parents in my life once again.  After a year we bought a house , a house in need of a serious renovation, a sizable renovation which we didn’t quite foresee. Our lease on our rental was up and we needed to fix up the inside of the house before we could live in it.

A modest double brick home on acreage, in the bush.We were so excited, we had  our own home once again and it was going to be beautiful . My mother urged us to move in with them again, put all our belongings in the garage and stay with them while we renovated our new house. We did, and for 4 long months we fixed up our little home ourselves. While all three girls were at the same school full time now I painted the whole inside of the house. We ripped out the kitchen, a shower and all the old carpets throughout the whole house.It was tough tough work, but we really enjoyed it. On weekends with had the kids with us playing in the surrounding bush land on the property while we worked as a team, Michael and I, turning the house into our home. We re-built the kitchen with my father helping us.Yes we installed our own IKEA kitchen and laundry.

From September to December we worked until it was ready to live in. And 2 days before Christmas we moved in with boxes and put up a tree.

Life went on, we were happy. We had finally settled in to our new state and our roots were down. We saw my parents on the odd weekend for a meal, and that was it. They were both still working full time and had started their own house renovation, re-doing the kitchen and bathrooms and downstairs flooring.

But then in February our horror story started to unfold.

Now I run…

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A few months went by  while I lived alone. Having left my fiance and  now living with complete strangers. Most days his dad would call me from Perth, to see if I  was okay, sometimes it was the only conversation I’d had, his caring tone always set my racing mind at ease. He knew things between his son and I had been fractured since we reported my father to Child protection together. He knew I was alone and I had no family now,  he understood I was hurting.

My mother made a few desperate attempts to reconcile things and she would call the house I was staying in, tracked me down, got the number from some one. I couldn’t bare to hear her voice, my anger would rise like stomach acid in my throat,  and my hands would shake. I hung up once or twice then she stopped calling me.

My ex-fiance was working overseas a bit since we had broken up, went to china for a few weeks at a time. He called me one day when he got back , crying on the phone, he said ‘he was sorry, sorry for emotionally disconnecting from me which had forced me to leave’, said ‘he was sorry he had hurt me even more since I was going through so much already after the crime my father had committed.’

He came over the next afternoon, I was resting on my mattress on the floor of my tiny room upstairs after a late night of assignment writing for my Degree. He stood on the street corner next to a lamp post and started calling out my name to get my attention, I woke to the sound of his voice from below my small balcony. I came out to find him standing below with a smoothie and a brown paper bag in his hand, looking up at me he said ” I brought you lunch, please can we talk?”. Tears welled up in my eyes seeing him there in that moment on that day , finally reaching out to me. I had missed him terribly but knew I had to wait for him to want to connect me with me again to fix things between us and that moment had finally arrived after months of sleeping alone on my tear soaked pillow.

We went to counseling, it was all initiated by him of course. The therapist was hard on him, interrogated him, pushed him to talk about his feelings towards me after the child abuse was reported. He said he felt like I was a “black widow spider”, he felt he couldn’t trust me as he struggled to disassociate me from my father and the crime he had committed.

Months later we moved back in together. I still had cut off all contact with my entire family, my mother, my father , my brother and all the extended relatives in South Africa as well. We were engaged again, but we knew the wedding was off the cards in the short term future given the trauma we had suffered. We decided to have a baby instead, to skip the wedding and move onto starting a family.

I had graduated from University with by Business Degree and got a position as an Assistant Buyer for a major retail chain. We were both working full time. We were happy together but alone, with no family support and only a few friends. He bought me an Apprilla scooter to get to work out near the Airport every day, he managed to get his first BMW through work as an Operations Manager of a food processing plant, something he had worked hard for over the last few years in Queensland.

A few months later I fell pregnant with our first child and we decided to leave the state and go to Perth Western Australia, where he was from, where his family were.

We sold all our furniture out of our rental apartment in the city, packed a small pallet of cardboard boxes to send across along with the only baby item we had acquired yet, a ‘Porta cot’. We sent his car on a train and we took our suit cases and boarded the 5 hour flight to Western Australia.

I was 24 and  he was 29 when she was born. A healthy, big baby,chubby with creases on her arms and blood on her head. The labor had been slow , days in fact, 3 to be precise.

We were living with his parents at the time, I had walked kilometers around the suburb blocks trying to tell her to  hurry up and arrive. I had spend two nights seated in an arm chair watching countless re-runs of Tv episodes, the contractions too strong to sleep through. Every time we called the hospital the mid-wives said ‘please wait until the contractions are at least 5 minutes apart before you come into the labor ward’. What I didn’t know was that they would never be regular even after all the books I’d read, I didn’t know they could be totally irregular.

My fiance stayed home with me those days , working on his laptop for work while I wailed and walked.

On the third day, totally exhausted from no sleep for two nights and from endless walking we decided to go to the hospital. We drove in peek traffic, for an hour, through multiple traffic lights and school zones doing 40 km/h. When we arrived at the hospital at 8am, the midwives assessed me, told us I was 3cms dilated and labor was established. All I  remember is thinking ‘oh thank God cause I need all the help I can get to get this baby out’. After countless showers and heat backs on my painful lower back because she was “posterior” of course ( facing the wrong way).   Minus any epidural and pain relief and after pushing for almost 2 hours with words such as forceps being used I knew it was now or never. She finally graced us with her birth at 7:57pm. Beautiful and screaming.

An hour later after this life changing moment  of child birth ,my nightmare started.

I was hemorrhaging, and fast. ‘Code blue’ was called and medical staff started pouring into the room. The registrar had arrived with many other people and I started shaking uncontrollably. The pain well beyond the child birth experience i had just endured,  as they manually tried to stop the bleed. They kept telling me to breathe in the gas from the mask I held in my left hand and I remember turning and looking at ‘my husband to be’ holding my hand tightly in his and thinking ” This is it, isn’t it, this is bad, this is where I say goodbye to you, you and our new baby, I am so sorry.” After 2 hours and almost 2 Litres of blood loss they had brought my body under control. I was still breathing, alive and I was a mother.

Apparently in the minutes that followed he asked me if he could call my mother in Queensland. I had not communicated with her for over a year now. I don’t even recall this conversation with my fiance. Exhaustion  and hunger had fully set in, they brought me toast with jam at midnight my first meal in two days or so.

I stayed in hospital with our new baby girl for 5 days and during that time my mother arrived. She came in to see me and I remember feeling nothing really, nothing but disconnect and coldness. She said ‘she adored my new baby girl, I should be proud, and she held her wrapped in her arms on the bed beside my wary body’.I still hated her I think, I still felt angry that she had sided with my father after he confessed to abusing her niece, my 9 year old cousin. She had turned her back on an innocent child, a victim of crime and she had also turned her back on me.

I wanted her to leave.

 

 

 

 

Young fractures

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So here we  were a young engaged couple in our early 20’s having reported my father to child protection for child sexual abuse committed against my 9 year old cousin ,Sienna.

We spent an hour so so with a case worker in child protection in amid lots of tears from me as details needed to be extracted to build the case against my father. At the end of our meeting she gave the case a ‘level’ , a degree of action associated and turned to both of us and said ” we will be moving in to confront your father at his house with a specialist police team while simultaneously sending child protection detectives to the victims school to interview her and her sister about the alleged sexual abuse at the hands of your father , their uncle.  Sienna and her Sister Emily attended a christian college, the same one where my mother was teaching at as a pre-primary teacher.

In a matter of days my big brother flew out from South Africa to be with my parents, who I had not spoken to again. He called me once when he arrived and started yelling at me for reporting it, told me we could have dealt with this as a family and that my father was going to report the abuse himself any way. I remember hanging up and feeling once again shocked by my own family’s response to this crime.

Years later I would find out he was arrested at his home that afternoon, hand cuffed and taken away with my mother screaming and weeping on the front lawn of their double story home. They lived in a upper class suburb with beautiful homes, manicured gardens the kind where the neighbors all know each other and every one smiles and waves.

He spent one night incarcerated at the local police station, my mother would later tell me she went to see him, took him his blood pressure medication and that he was suicidal.

I discovered years later ,he would then serve a community sentence for a few months, meet with a psych ,under go regular police checks at home, his car, his computer ect. His sentence reduced due to the prosecutor asking my Aunt , Sienna’s mother if she thought he should serve time  in jail or a community sentence , she ultimately chose the later she claims for the sake of her child, as she didn’t want her daughter to feel bad for her uncle doing time.

Given this was the sentence, no one knew the crime he had committed against a child, no one in the community knew about my mother’s choice to stand by her husband and her choice not to report child abuse. She carried on teaching pre-primary children as she had done for so many years before.

After  my fiance and I reported the case with child protection our own relationship fell apart. He shut me out emotionally , stopped talking to me and I had to make the difficult choice to leave him. We had only been together a few years , we were young, engaged. We were supposed to be happy, we were supposed to be planning the rest of our lives together. I had no where to go.

I was in the closing stages of my  3 year Business Degree at university , working as a casual sales assistant at a Jeans store. He had been working full time as an Operations Manager on a good wage for his young age. I literally had nothing, no money and no family only a handful of new Uni friends struggling to make end’s meet themselves.

I packed my suit case and moved into a room with two house mates, two law students, a young couple who had noticed my desperate advert on a University notice board. Complete strangers to me, it was their rental property and I  had a room, a roof over my head.

I  hated my own family, my fiance had emotionally abandoned me and I was now alone. Alone in a big world, with no money and no car I  knew this was going to be tough.At least I was in the right country, Australia being a compassionate caring place. I went to Center-link the government welfare department and asked if they could help me.

I was able to get youth allowance , some money to help me pay my rent for my room, buy food , university text books and pay guild fees.This life saving welfare coupled with my casual sales wage would mean I could survive.

I have never felt more alone that I did in that room for those months. I was lucky i was studying cause that was my only distraction from my fractured life at the ripe age of 23.