Brave Stories

The following story is from a member of our church and it has been shared bravely for the benefit of others. We can sometimes be quick to make assumptions about who a person in our church is, but there is always so much to each of our stories… here is one of them.

Emma’s and My Journey – Learning to love and respect ourselves

Many believe a foetus does not know what is happening to it whilst in the womb. I disagree, my mother tried unsuccessfully to abort me several times. I knew before I was born I was unloved and unwanted. By six months, I knew it was useless to cry if I was hungry, cold or in pain my mother or father would never come.

A man and woman with gentle voices and kind eyes spoke to my parents. The lady picked me up and cuddled me, she smelt like flowers. The man spoke to my father for a long time before they both left.

Several weeks later they returned, this time they took me home with them. An older woman {grandmother] and my new mother worked very hard over several days to relieve my constipation, rashes and cradle cap. I was put into a warm bath, both ladies cried as they cleaned and soothed the open sores bruises and rashes all over my body.
For the first time I was warm and clean. My nana had me in a rocking chair feeding me a warm bottle of milk another first, it tasted so good. I had begun my new life with my adopted parents.

My mother always sang to me, giving me cuddles and kisses my instincts told me I was free from being beaten and neglected, I was safe, I was loved, I began to laugh and smile.

One day an older angry man came into the nursery, he was screaming and abusing my mother and nanna making them cry. He was my new grand da, he stared at me even, though I was only six months I recognised hatred and disgust when I saw it. My grandmother was forbidden to visit me. My mother’s eyes became sad and sometimes she cried.

My new parents loved me without reservation. My grand da made it obvious he did not want me in his family. He was what is known as a functioning alcoholic. He ruled his family with a fist of iron and fear. My aunts, uncles and cousins were not allowed to come to our home or have anything to do with me. He said why should their family be lumbered with somebody else’s trash. My natural parents did not want me and had been glad to be rid of me. I was a spawn of the devil, evil and would bring nothing but shame and scandal to his family.

When my parents were allowed to attend family gatherings it was with the understanding I would stay in the laundry and eat my food there If anyone spoke to me there would be an argument and all knew that my grandfather would beat my grandmother when we left.

My mother became very ill when I was four, and was admitted to hospital. It was decided I would live with one of my Aunts and Uncles till my mother recovered. 3 Months later, he was promoted and moved Overseas. I was taken to my grandparents. It was then that my Grandfather began to not only verbally but sexually abuse me. Like all paedophiles, he constantly told me I was evil, making him do this. He was a good Christian man I was the one at fault. He warned me if I told anyone, something terrible would happen to my mother and father and nanna.

I had no friends, I was too scared and had no confidence. My secret invisible friend Emma, emerged. When grand da was particularly abusive to me and the pain was overwhelming Emma soothed me. Whenever my Grand da caught me talking to her he would tell my grandmother he was right, I was mentally ill as well as evil talking to demons invisible to good Christians. During the next six years Emma helped me bear the pain and the loneliness, somewhere deep inside I knew what he was doing was wrong and not my fault but was too terrified fearing my parents and nanna would die.

My mother was finally home for good and was able to look after me again. I had been enrolled in primary school when I was four, my parents were proud of me when I was put up two grades, I was way ahead of my fellow classmates. My teachers would praise me, but I did not believe them, I was evil and caused pain.

Emma was still my constant companion. I was too scared to make friends at school, my gran da made me believe horrible things would happen to them. My class mates called me a snob. I turned more and more to Emma, I tried so hard to be good. Surely my grand da would love me and be proud of me.

On my 11th birthday my life changed again. There had been a case in our parish of a priest leaving and young boy and his family moving away. Hearing the gossip, I went to the library, looked up paedophilia. I was terrified but, I was determined my grand da would never abuse me or my Nanna again. When we were alone I said what he was doing to me was wrong. If he did not stop beating Nanna and hurting me I would go to the police. He said no one would believe me my research had informed me about examinations that proved forced sexual acts.

I thought I had been clever to have stopped my grand da, I didn’t realise by not telling what had happened to me the pain and self-loathing would fester inside me almost crippling me and my emotional growth.

I won a full scholarship to Sydney University, I undertook studies in psychology specialising in incest, rape, mental abuse, chemical addiction. I would work for many years in this field, Whilst I helped many young women and men to realise they were not to blame, nor to be ashamed and hate themselves my personal life was a mess.

I was 18 when into my life came Aaron, in my mind and heart he was my knight in shining armour. He was 38 and serving in the military. I told him everything, unburdening all my pain and loneliness. He used it to abuse me mentally and physically cutting me off from any family. I became pregnant and my daughter was born. On the surface he appeared overjoyed. When we came home he ranted and raved how disappointed he was in a snivelling girl. I better have a boy next time or he would make me suffer. Aaron had seen our next-door neighbour help me with my groceries, I was once more pregnant. He began drinking and accusing me of sleeping with the neighbour, He kicked me in the stomach and I fell down the stairs. When I awoke in hospital, the doctors told me I had lost our son. the story was I had felt dizzy and before he could catch me I had fallen.

Aaron had to report for duty he was once more being deployed. The day he left I emptied half of our bank accounts, took all my jewellery, personal items, booked a flight and fled to my parents.

I commenced working again in my chosen field and my mother looked after my daughter. My father helped me contact a solicitor and commence Divorce proceedings. Several months later Aaron was listed MIA. I thought I would be eligible for a widow’s pension, however a Vietnamese woman with 3 children proved to be Aaron’s legal wife he had married her 4 years earlier.

I worked well with my patients and helped them move one. Sadly, I could not rely more and more heavily on Emma.

When my daughter turned 17 she left home to pursue her career in Melbourne. I began taking sometimes paid, sometimes voluntary work in Refugee camps working in logistics. In Somalia I caught a water borne virus and was medevaced to Australia. I was off loaded in Adelaide as I had slipped into unconsciousness. 13 months later I was discharged and told to come home and get my affairs in order they gave me approximately 3 months to live.

No one could reach me, I was depressed and wrapped up in the pain of my inanimate death. I was bed ridden and in excruciating pain. Life was not worth living. I tried to commit suicide, if not for my beloved cousin I would have succeeded. Both my daughter (when she was told) and my cousin tried very tough love on me. It worked to an extent, the three months were up, I was still here. I enrolled in Pain Management and learned how to live with my pain. I went back to work in the Queensland Health System but in Admin as a permanent casual.

One day as I was waiting to cross the road I noticed a sign advertising the Robina Anglican Church services on a Sunday. I don’t know why but the following Sunday I attended the 9.30 service. From the moment I walked in I felt accepted, everyone was friendly and made me feel special and liked. Since finding a place in our church I have lost 32 kilos; my psychologist has told me I do not need her any longer. Now I attend craft mornings, Bible Studies, welcoming duties, and helping out wherever I can on a Thursday at Community Connect. Hopefully, I am going back to studying to get a degree in Social Work.

I think the real change is, I am happy, I actually like and respect myself, I have confidence . I realise now that God has intervened in my life on several occasions without my realising it. When I was adopted by my extraordinary mum and dad. My failure to commit suicide, the last seeing the sign inviting me to return to Church.

I no longer live in darkness and despair, Emma has faded away I no longer need her to survive. My journey into the light is continuing I have made friends, I am being of help to others, no longer useless.

I know now and believe my grand da was wrong, it was his own sickness and loathing he was fighting. I am not evil nor am I the Devils spawn.

We are thankful that this person has found a place in our church and sees herself now as a child of God. If this story has been triggering in any way please seek help and support.