I am writing this today because of the ‘reductionist’ view being taken of how child abuse plays out over 50 years of a person’s life.
In reply to anyone who believes the grooming and sexual assault of a 17 year old beginning university student is somehow eclipsed by the later misery suffered during a marriage to a Forgotten Australian, here are my thoughts.
I would always have married Lew. However, if I had not already been in a ‘relationship’ with my abuser before I met Lew, he and I would not have married prematurely.
When Lew and I became engaged, over the strenuous objections of my parents, who demanded a one year engagement, I phoned my abuser to tell him the news. “Will this make any difference to us?” he asked.
Lew and I were together from 1969 throughout my university degree. We split up for one year in 1973 and got back together during the floods of 1974. Our first child was born a year later.
My abuser continued to mess with my life throughout my degree program. In my final year of the Performer’s degree, and while I was separated from my husband, he told me he could “detect my frigidity in my playing”. He referred me to a Psychiatrist friend of his. This established to anyone who may be interested that I was ‘unstable’, which in turn blinded me to my husband’s illness. Indeed it would be many years before anyone knew what was wrong with him. Until 1993, Lew was viewed as a dole bludger. After 1993, his illness was recognised. Professor Beverley Raphael wrote a report in 1995 directly linking Lew’s condition to the abuse in Children’s Homes.
Lew made it clear he needed me. He was the most intelligent person I had ever met. For a few years, in the heady university climate, we enjoyed being young and alive, until Lew’s demons began to resurface.
Some of my teachers from Year 11 and 12 know approximately when the first instance of grooming occurred, as well as the kind of girl I was. I wish enough were known about the effects of grooming and assault on a very ignorant 17 year old. Needing to move away from my parents at any cost was paramount. I was not allowed to leave home even when I became engaged.
My abuser displayed a prurient interest in my relationship with my husband.
Many confusing feelings remain, and blogging about them seems to be the only way to tell my story without someone, a journalist, lawyer, therapist, relative or anyone blind to the suffering of our families, telling me to stop. What happened has been covered up for far too long.