( continued from previous post)
Ok so here goes, I’m going to try to finish my child hood tonight. I have been and had a therapy session for me PTSD today and really it has made me want to finalise this part of my life, so here goes.
So we left the last chapter off with me leaving my home town to attend boarding school. The boarding school was about 2 hours from my home town and was somewhere with no direct family connection.
A week earlier I had met with the head sister of the school and the principal. They seemed nice enough and were keen to offer me a place at the school. They assured me in their care I would feel loved and as a part of a family, I was assured that no harm would come to me there.
There was a court order in place preventing my mother and father from contacting the school as they had been ordered to stand trial for severe child abuse and maltreatment.
Before going to the boarding school I had spent many hours with police, giving statements that would be used later that year in court against my parents.
My first day at boarding school was a bit daunting; there were so many girls I felt really out of place. I was placed in a blue dorm with about 8-10 girls we each had a little cubical, I loved it. There was a bed a desk with a light shelves and a wardrobe just for me!
I was so excited a space all of my own. Before going on I must explain; when I lived in foster homes before boarding school, not once was i given a drawer or a cupboard just for my stuff (not that I had much). My stuff was always in my garbage or shopping bag on or under the bed or sometimes squeezed in next to a foster siblings cupboard which always seemed to lead to arguments for invasion of space and privacy and I was always the one in the wrong. The beds I slept in (if I had one) were always “that’s my sons bed whose at uni” or “that’s my daughter bed and she will need it when she comes home” I always got the lecture “this is not your room but this is where you will stay”. “The things in here are not for you, do not touch!”, “this is my area but you can come in here to sleep but you can’t come in any other time” I never had a place that was just mine.
I didn’t have space in the bathroom and would often get in trouble for using things. It was just a nightmare, I was in trouble if I didn’t wash but in trouble for using their stuff I could just never win.
Eventually I just would pretend to avoid the hassle. Often my clothes did not get washed with the family stuff and were always separated.
So back to the boarding school, I was excited with my space all the other girls’ whinged about theirs but I loved mine. The cupboard looked very bare because I didn’t have much but that didn’t bother me. Once in the boarding school I was entitled to receive the homeless rate of living away from home allowance. This money went in to an account held by the sisters on my behalf. I got around $600 per month; $60 was for me a month the rest paid my boarding fees for the school. Each month the sister would take $20 for collection during mass this was my offering apparently to the church.
I remember the lecture where I was shown in the bible that I must contribute and forgo 10% of my income. So all in all I had $40 per month this money was to clothe me, get my snacks and school morning tea, stationary and school supplies, school uniforms and shoes and anything else that I needed. The school was nice, and the lessons were great. I did well in art, geography, English and anything that was hands on. I had a few friends, mostly the day students or as they were called “the day rats” the girls in the boarding house were hard to get close to. Their lives were so different from mine. They would talk to parents and siblings on the phone, receive care packs with special things, have loads of stories to tell, photos plastered all over their walls and really it was just a huge bunch of the “popular girls”. There were one or two that were nice to me in the house but I could tell we were never as close as the other girls, I just stood out.
On home weekends and holidays I struggled. Because the boarding school was my home, I didn’t have anywhere to go like the others. Sometimes I went to foster homes, sometimes I went home with other boarders or if I was really unlucky I stayed alone with the sisters or just hung around the town till school was back.
After a little while one of the day students who I was close with asked me to join the air force cadets. It wasn’t something I had ever thought about but my thinking was if it got me out of the boarding school even if only for a while I loved it.
At first the sisters were not happy and didn’t like the idea, I told my docs case worker at the time and she liked the idea. After some debate the boarding school allowed it, even though no other girl was allowed to do extracurricular activities of an evening.
So I joined, was issued a very smart uniform and my cadet book. These things were my pride and joy; I loved polishing my shoes so you could see your face in the reflection, ironing my shirts to within an inch of their life till they were as stiff as boards. I fitted in, I didn’t feel different and I felt good about myself whenever I was in uniform. Like everything else that year I was determined to be the best and excelled at everything I attempted. Weekends were now filled with bivouacs (camping in the bush) community service activities, rifle practice and so much more. On the school holidays there was always a camp you could go to and it was a requirement to attend a few each year to progress through the ranks. The first lot of holidays approached and I signed up for camp. All camps at the air force base were full and the only 2 options left were powered flying or gliding camp. I was terrified of heights and had only been in a plane once before, but I figured if I had to go in the air I wanted an engine and didn’t want to be just relying on the wind and air currents. So powered flying camp it was. I had to fly a minimum 3 hours in the air to attend so docs paid this initial 3 hours cost for me. I purchased the required text books and my friends parents paid for my medical. That was the first holidays I hadn’t had to worry about where I would live or where I would sleep.
I was so excited. When it was time to go, I traveled to Camden on the country link train dressed in full uniform as required . I felt very important and special. I was traveling alone but I had done that thousands of times before, that train was almost a home . I had done so many journeys and the staff actually knew me by name and often feed me at their expense. When I arrived at the camp it was amazing, barracks were on the hill overlooking the airfield and everyone got issued with a pilot flight suit, just like they wear in top gun. I felt so cool. Everyone had different ranks, duties and chores but I didn’t care. I just loved the fact I knew where I would be for a whole week and nobody was going to judge me and I wasn’t the only new person there. After lots of theory work I remember my first flight, I was so nervous I was shaking all over but at the same time giggling like an idiot and I found it so hard to contain myself.
The instructor did some breathing exercises’ with me and once I was calm we got in to the aircraft. It was an orange and white PA-38 piper tomahawk with an Australian air force emblem on the wings and body. The instructor went through the motions taxied down the runway and prepared for takeoff. Clearance was given and the engine roared, in just a moment we were hurtling down the runway and before you knew it we were of the ground. The feeling was amazing and I felt so liberated it was hard to explain. Approaching the first turn I took the controls, I wasn’t meant to but just felt the urge. The pilot laughed and said “you’re keen” but nicely retook control and we headed out to the training area. Once there about 5 mins, he said “ok your turn” he was there and I knew nothing could go wrong 1000’s of feet above the earth in basically a tin can and I felt safer than I ever had in my life. I turned the plane back and forth, up and down to see what each movement would result in. it was totally amazing, the hour flew past and before long we were re-entering the circuit and preparing to land I was allowed to hold the controls with the pilot the whole time and it was the most fun I’d ever had. Long story short by the end of that camp I was awarded a flying scholarship so that I could return next holidays. The instructors said I was a natural and they felt I really could become a pilot.
That year every spare minute I had I was flying, whenever I was homeless the pilots came to my aid. I stayed at the barracks on weekends even when there were no camps. I washed planes and swept the hangers to earn extra flight time every chance I got. Soon enough Christmas 1995 rolled around - 6 whole weeks and I needed to find a place to stay . After many arguments a foster home where I had stayed previously agreed to have me for a few weeks but not the whole holiday. I was ok with this I would have Christmas with them, one week on flying camp and I would just wing the rest. Christmas was as per normal distressing and miserable. The foster family did all the normal family things a family would do, had a tree decorated it, had a large meal lots of family and friends would attend in the morning gifts galore would surround the tree. I was excited and thought some of them had to be for me. I sat there waiting, which gifts were mine. The mother handed them out one by one between her children, the pile was disappearing quickly and it appeared just like every other year I would be excluded from Christmas. My gift was the last gift, a small cross stitch activity the size of a wallet, it was lovely and I thanked the carers but inside I was hurting. I sat there watching these kids opening hundreds of gifts, new clothes, shoes, toys, cd walk-mans, jewellery and Nintendo games. I was gutted, I stormed off to the laundry and sat in the corner and cried An hour or so later they came to me and wanted to know what was wrong, I yelled and swore and wondered why ask me to come and stay if they weren’t going to be nice. I was called ungrateful and I should be happy with what I had. I then got the usual lecture about how much it cost to care for me and there just wasn’t money for gifts. It was not their fault that my parents sent me nothing and apparently the department should have provided gifts as I was their responsibility. Their children had so many gifts because they are their children and most were from family uncle aunts and so on.
Because I was apparently ungrateful I was excluded from Christmas lunch that day. They didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of their friends and family, so as per normal I just stayed in my room and completed the little cross stitch. The following thoughts ran around and around my mind; now seriously if you are going to take a child in to you home as an act of kindness why exclude them, why not show unconditional love, is it really that hard? Is it so much to ask of your relatives to all pitch in and buy a small gift so that the foster child doesn’t get left out? After all you invited them to your family, you asked them to come, if it is such an inconvenience why bother? For the rest of the holiday season I just grinned and bore the crappy existence I was forced to live whilst there. I looked forward to my week ahead flying high above the world back where I felt special and loved. Once at pilots camp I studied hard, passed my exams and then flew my first solo (the biggest milestone for any budding pilot) taking off in the plane for the first time all alone was amazing. I was totally in control just me and an engine in a metal shell scooting through the air high above the world. I completed my circuit and was soon back on the ground taxiing down the runway back to the hanger. After that flight I flew twice more that day unassisted, and the ball didn’t stop rolling from there. The air force officer invited me to co – pilot a flight with a passenger officer to RAAF base Richmond it was amazing, flying at sunset over the Blue Mountains and the 3 Sisters, landing a small aircraft after a c130 Hercules had landed ,it was mind blowing. Taxiing past all the huge RAAF aircraft is a vision which will be etched in, my mind till the day I die. A storm closed in, so I got to sit in the officer’s mess with them and drink coffee whilst we waited for the weather to clear then it was back to Camden we flew. My first taste at night flying and I loved it. The officer said to me “Melina you can do this it can be your life! You are talented and we will help you if you want it”.... oh how I wanted it, I wished I could stay up there and never land. I got another scholarship that camp and also a flying trophy for my achievements. That holidays the barracks where being used by others so when camp was over I had to leave, I had a few 24 hr placements, a few nights on the streets, a couple of couch surfing nights and a night in a detention centre because there was no homes but docs didn’t want me on the streets.
By the time I was back at boarding school I was feeling really low. I hated my situation and was really just feeling tired moving everyday was taking its toll. In the first few weeks at boarding school I began to spiral , the constant laughs and giggles from the girls as they swapped fantastic holiday stories, talked about gifts, showed some off, flipped through photos just made me mad, frustrated, sad, lonely, heartbroken and very unloved.
I was totally excluded, the girls didn’t mean to do it but we had different lives. I was living in hell and they were in heaven. One of the day students I was friends with had ADHD I often went to the office with her at lunch when she would get her pills, she had a hard life to and I remembered before the holidays we had discussed suicide because that last year a student at school had taken their life. I asked her to keep me her pills and she did. One day she gave me almost a bottle full, we giggled about how she had tricked the nurse who never realised that she hadn’t ever swallowed a single one. That weekend in the prayer room when a small group of us went for a prayer meeting, I took the pills before going to the room. Whilst we listened to the calming music, I laid back and closed my eyes and prayed I would never wake up.
Sadly, I was woken up with a group of faces staring at me and a nun slapping my face. I remember waking up to the words “shes just attention seeking and really such a waste of time I don’t know why we try” one of the girls was screaming and some were just chatting. I remember the sister yelling at me to get up, and explain myself.
Another sister was in the corner on the phone talking with paramedics. Basically I was expelled from the boarding house for disgracing the school with in 48 hrs I was out of there and told never to return. Docs found me a foster placement in that town and I went to a local public high school. That year I had continual moves, some carers where nothing more than evil, others were very loving and kind but none really wanted a teenager fulltime. My old maths teacher from the boarding school applied to be a carer to have me and I hoped so dearly to one day live with her, i was lucky and i did get to stay with her for a short while on a temporary basis.
That year the trial commenced against my parents. it went for ever and I’m still very traumatized by the experience of being on the stand telling my story, being cross examined (or treated like worthless dirt which ever description you prefer) the lawyer was ruthless, my mother and father would swear at me, spit at me and basically humiliate me out the front of the court house each day.
I remember sitting outside on the cold steps, alone waiting to be called, surrounded by criminal, angry parents, drug affected people, police and lawyers every one complaining about the long delays puffing away on cigarettes madly drinking coffee. Whenever we were in the court room, I was just so confused I had no idea what on earth was being said half the time. I sat at the opposite end of the table to my mum.
Really nobody spoke to me, just looked, stared, pointed ,whispered and so on. I remember my father was charged first and he was found guilty. He was mad. He pleaded to the judge for a suspended sentence due to ill health and his other young children at home. The judge gave him a 2 year good behaviour bond and placed him on the child protection register. Mum’s case was heard about a month later and we had to re do everything, mum was charged and after hours on the stand, being grilled one day and treated like crap by Mum’s lawyer and having no one even care that I said I need a break, I stood up in the stand, yelled at the judge and walked out never to return. I was later told that because I did that , the judge refused to hand down his sentence.
Mum was placed on the register but if I wanted her sentenced I would have to return.
Between a new school , multiple homes and 2 huge court trials in a completely different town to where I lived, I just was so over the world I didn’t care and said I give up . I said to docs I just want a life , make sure they leave me alone and just let me go to school and let me fly my planes that’s all I wanted , was that so hard?
I ended up back where I was but in a new placement this time . I would live in a rented caravan in a paddock near the carers house, this was about the 3rd time I had lived in a caravan with a carer but this was the first time I was expected to cook for myself and care for myself and only enter their home occasionally to use the bathroom. I was not at all accepted as a part of this family. I had stayed there before and slept in their attic or loft whatever you call it. There was a mattress and you couldn’t stand and barely sit up. They were a very loving Christian family who adored each other. They were very set in what they did and believed. I would watch them and be very jealous of the love they showed to their children whilst totaling ignoring and isolating me. The lecture when I first stayed was “this is a trial, we have cared before and emotionally it hurt us. Docs have begged us to take you so we have agreed but make no promise” Well at least I guess I knew where I stood, they didn’t want me that was clear.
Their sons teased me on the school bus ride to town each morning and they laughed at me with all their friends. I tried my best to fit in but never felt as though I measured up to their perfect standards.
Living in the van at least gave me space and I didn’t have to actually watch them love their kids and ignore me. I continued to fly and by now I had my GFPT. I was just one step away from a pilot’s licence.
That year I made my debut and got all dressed up like the other girls, except their dresses were gorgeous and mine was a $20 op shop find. One of the older boys from my air cadet unit partnered me and he was a true gentlemen , gave me a rose opened the door and kissed me on the cheek after dropping me home.
At school I had started an environmental club, we did amazing things, won prizes and we were in the newspaper often. I was achieving well in my school marks and my Japanese teacher was thrilled with my efforts. She told me all about the opportunity of being an exchange student. She told me there were scholarships and she thought I had a great chance of winning one. The process lasted the whole year; I applied and did really well but missed out by 2 places. I was devastated but thought it was a long shot anyway so I just picked up and moved on.
By this time I was holding down a job and now living with a lovely lady who was a single mum with a daughter. She was nice, she took me for my first driving lesson in her Torana... I remember her freaking out because I was always in the middle of the road.
We both quickly agreed it was best if I stuck to planes because cars and I just didn’t mix. By late in the year I had been dating a fellow pilot for some time. He was my first real love and he was every girls dream. He would travel from Sydney almost every weekend to see me and always brought a bunch of flowers or chocolates. I escorted him to his yr 12 formal that year. My foster mum stayed up late at night making me a dress I picked for the formal. It was a full length dark green crepe fabric evening dress which crossed over at the neckline and formed a halter and was low cut at the back. I had my hair done all set in curls and looked a million dollars. When I arrived he gave me a dozen red roses. We went out and had lunch at a cafe by the water and later watched a movie whilst eating carrot sticks with dip.
A few weeks before he had proposed to me on the tarmac late at night at the airport where we both learnt to fly. After his formal we caught the bus in to the city still all dressed up and walked around the opera house. We went up the stairs and looked out over the harbour at midnight watching the lights glisten over the water. He re proposed again and we were so happy, young but happy and in love and probably foolish but it was sweet and wonderful. When I was back home my foster mother was not exactly impressed that I was engaged. Mind you I didn’t actually tell her out right.
I had been spending all my work pay buying magazines fantasizing over dresses fit for a queen , she found them in my room and obviously I had to spill the beans. That same month I got a phone call out of the blue from the exchange organisation.
They were ringing to tell me that a generous company had heard about me and wanted to offer me a scholarship to anywhere in the world for 12 months. I was so surprised and really gobsmacked When it was time to choose where I wanted to go I remember asking which plane left first I just wanted to get the hell out of this country I wanted a new life away from this life. They said the first plane was to Chile and quite frankly that did not appeal to me at all. The second flight was in March and it was to Japan, so I agreed and it was finalized on 17th march 1997, I would fly out of this country and live in Japan with a loving host family who wanted me for 12 months. All I had to do now was survive till March.
I did well at school that year and was surprised, when I was told that I would receive citizen of the year at presentation night that week. I was thrilled, docs were thrilled, and my foster mum was thrilled. The day of the presentation night was like any other, went to school got bullied, studied, kept to myself and walked home to get ready for the night. But this time I had a gut feeling something wasn’t right.
A bad Surprise when I got home who was there? Why my natural mother of course! The person in this world I hated above anyone else was sitting at the kitchen table having coffee , chatting with my foster mum. I pretend to be ok with it and stayed calm. I could see my foster mum was uncomfortable and mum was just mum looking at me with her manipulative evil eyes. I started to get ready for the presentation night when a phone call came through, a water main had burst and the night was to be postponed. Well mum was pissed she had travelled all that way to see me get the award (nobody asked me if I even wanted her there), to keep her happy I said I would walk her to the school ,show her around, then take her to air force cadets and show her around there.
It was clean up night at cadets for end of year so I figured if it kept her happy I didn’t care. She yabbered on the whole time about how she felt I had earnt my place in the family now and how she was looking forward to me coming home, really I just ignored her because in my head I knew a court order said I would never go home again so I thought I was safe. I mean the court order also said she wasn’t to know where I was and was never to have contact with me but I thought maybe they bent the rules because it was my big night who knew nobody told me anything.
She whinged and bitched all night and sucked up to my foster mum. I was so glad when she got on that midnight train and left. Things started to fall apart in my foster home from that night onward, which was typical it always happened after mum showed her face. Christmas that year was the only good Christmas I remember, we snuck out in her Torana and cut down a real live tree, tied it to the car and drove it home. I got to help put it up and decorate it. My foster mum bought gifts just for me and she actually put thought in to it. I was naughty and fearing repeats of previous Christmas’s, I actually checked her cupboards to see if I was getting anything and when I found them I opened them just to get a look. On Christmas morning I acted surprised as I opened my camera but loved it none the less. The gifts between me and her daughter weren’t even but this year I didn’t care because I knew she had my actually spent time thinking of me when she bought my gifts, and she bought me things she knew I could take with me on the plane and keep with me in Japan.
I was included that day had the lunch and was silly like everyone else. But within a week somehow I was sent home to live with my mum and step dad back in the family home. Mum got the local paper to come and do a story bragging about what a wonderful child she had raised, the article spoke about all my achievements and mum rattled on about how proud she was and how she and dad had apparently contributed to my achievements.
It made me sick and mad. I was treated then same I used to be , nothing had changed there.
My siblings all hated me I was known as spoilt. Mum and dad again took my things and disposed of them. I often asked about my foster mum and wanted to know why I couldn’t go back. Mum told me that she didn’t want me and had told docs that I was too much trouble. Apparently I was impacting on her daughter and her lifestyle. It didn’t make sense but I hadn’t heard from my foster mum so had no option but to believe her.
My file since reading it has explained to me what happened, I’m not sure even my foster mum is aware fully what happened. I found her last year and have yet to speak with her about this incident so will not disclose it here. I think it’s something her and I need to talk about as I’m sure when she reads the file she will be mad, maybe sad and well who knows I can only assume. What I read made me boiling mad and it deepened my hatred for my mother even more.
Anyway about a month before I was to leave for Japan after a rather painful beating and assault from my parents, I was kicked out of their house and told never to return. They laughed at me as they were sure this now meant I would not get to go overseas and they truly felt I did not deserve to go. My belongings (what was left) were placed in a storage shed at docs and this is where they would stay till I was 17 I lived on the streets for a while with my suitcase for Japan but eventually a lovely lady who was a part of the exchange organisation allowed me to live with her and her family until I was to fly out. In the weeks before I left, I went to the airport and flew my little heart out. I was determined to have my full private licence before leaving the country. I achieved this and was so proud of myself I was now a private pilot and only 16 years old. So anyway the lady from the exchange org took me to the airport and it was wonderful . For a few hours I felt normal and was able to enjoy the excitement like all the other exchange students from around Australia who had gathered to fly out of Sydney that night together on the way to Tokyo. My life was obviously destined to be hard, the host family pulled out at the last minute and I was in a foreign country with no home to go to. After 7 days of orientation camp they found me a temp host family at the very last minute. It just all fell apart. Some people in Japan were awesome and accepted me for me. Others on the other hand did not accept me because in their culture those who do not live with their family are outcasts of society and deserve nothing.
My host mum fully believed this and felt humiliated that I could not explain my family to all her friends she was mad that nobody had told her i didn’t have a family back home. They didn’t keep me, my host father defied my host mother at every turn which made her worse, he wanted me and she didn’t. She wore the pants in that family and soon I was placed elsewhere. After 6 months it was too much, being continually rejected in a foreign country and my home country I really just gave up. And didn’t care anymore.
It was agreed I should go home as it would be safer to be on home soil. I flew home to Australia alone, was collected by the exchange organisation and sat in their office for the day in Sydney doing nothing. Later that night I was placed on a small aircraft and flown to a town 40 mins from my natural family. I was placed in a temp foster home again and would be passed around for the next 2 months.
I would argue that I wanted to be back where I had been, I wanted my old school, my air cadets and my friends. Docs did not want me to go back they felt it was not good for me. I was so angry for the 2 months after I returned that I was moved around I didn’t attend school once.
I moved too often to bother with enrollment. Docs didn’t know what to do with me, nobody wanted me I was too old. They felt maybe they should discharge me from wardship early I then I would just be in charge of myself and they wouldn’t need to find me a home. In the end after multiple fights with the department, they agreed to send me back to where I had gone to school the previous year and to where my air cadet unit was. I was placed in to a youth refuge as it was the only option. T
his refuge was co Ed, so it had boys and girls. The other youth treated me like crap ,they thought I was a spoilt rich kid who ran away from home. I continued with my flying and my schooling but was forced back to year 9 because it was midyear. Few weeks after moving in there a terrible incident happened. Docs did not care about what had happened, the refuge didn’t seem bothered either so I would bounce from refuge to refuge half way house to halfway house in one of the placements there was another horrible attack in which my belongings were torched including my flying trophies which I was supposed to return to the air force everything was destroyed simply my new house mates saw my belongings and simply assumed im must have been a spoilt rich kid who was just a runaway,
I was an emotional mess, I felt like I was in a tumble dryer going round and round and unable to gasp for air. at this time i also got trapped in a domestic violence relationship, and was forced to give up my flying as he felt threatened by my connections with the officers, stupidly I did what he wanted and I threw it away.
I sadly have not flown since. I have always been too ashamed to go back and show my face to those who believed in me so much. They gave me so much and when life became too hard I just gave up. Life was not nice it was very hard; my now partner had a drug habit he was manic in his moods and was one scary piece of work, with a second personality of a saint. We had a flat of our own soon enough and I was deeply trapped in a very unhealthy situation by the time I was 5 months pregnant, I was back in my home town and was able to reconnect with my foster mum the dental nurse. I could always talk to her, when my partner was off being an idiot with his hoon mates I would visit with her, she knew this was not me and she knew something wasn’t right. She had been a survivor of domestic violence before her current marriage many years ago and she saw the signs.
Over the coming weeks she and I would hatch a plan to get me out and to get my life back on track. She bought things for the baby and assured me I could be a single mum, I could go back to school and I could fly again. I felt stronger each day and soon it would be time to enact or plan. When I was 6 months pregnant everything was set to go.
I met with her the day before and spoke with her in the afternoon. She had been shopping and told me about the baby clothes she had just bought and we said goodbye and I went to sleep knowing in the morning I would get my life back and everything would be ok. The next morning she hadn’t rang when we had planned and I got worried. The phone rang about ½ hour later than it was supposed to but it wasn’t her. My doc’s officer was on the phone, he was calling to inform me that my foster mother passed away that night of a brain haemorrhage. He said she went to the fridgee to get her husband a beer and fell to the floor and died.
It wasn’t fair; she wasn’t allowed to check out like that. In an instant my world was shattered, the one person above all else who loved and cared for me was gone. Docs told me they would let me know when the funeral was to be held and they would ensure I got there, I was not allowed to walk around too much due to pregnancy issues and I couldn’t drive. The days past and I heard nothing, it had now been over a week and I was concerned nobody would tell me anything and I was worried I would miss the funeral. One afternoon my mother turned up she had come to tell me about my foster mum’s funeral.
She said the docs officer had asked her to tell me when it was and they had suggested she be with me to offer comfort (WTF) anyway she turned up to tell me, she told me the funeral was 3 days ago and that she hated her and that I shouldn’t be sad because she’s not my mother and she had no right to me and she had no right to have loved me and she felt I wasn’t their family so it would have been inappropriate for me to attend.
I cried and cried, she left and I’m sure she was pleased with herself. My foster father refused to speak with me and I was unable to contact any of my foster mothers family, they all knew how much she loved me and me not turning up was the most insulting thing I could do .
I was outcast and never spoken to again , as recently as last year my foster dad can’t even to stand near me in a supermarket and he turns and walks the other way, it breaks my heart every time.
I want to tell them I’m sorry, I loved her I wanted to be there but I have never had that chance; it’s been 12 and a half years now so really it’s far too late. I did however find her son via face book late last year (when I was determined to find as many foster families and siblings as possible) I wrote to him and let him know how special his mum was to me. I asked for a photo as I didn’t have one and really really wanted something of her.
Kindly he did send me a photo but I have not heard from him again. After the death I had become numb and depressed, lifeless and in total despair resigned to the fact I would be trapped in my situation forever and my saviour was gone. 3 months later after many threats of harm from my birth family I gave birth to my first son.
I had walked to the hospital in labour and was unsupported and really alone. After 38 hrs I had an emergency c section and delivered a fairly healthy child. I was discharged from wardship as I was now 18 and did not hear from docs again. I would ask for assistance because I had no idea what I was doing and would be turned away and told to learn as I went along. Simply put life was hell, nobody wanted to help so yet again I could rely on nobody but me. I got a job and worked and studied child care and welfare determined my past would not pre determine me to be a failure as a parent. All I ever wanted was to love or be loved, I couldn’t be loved so loving my kids was all I could do In 2004, a horrible thing was uncovered that my husband had done.
This event combined with making some wonderful friends and gaining some great support from services in QLD allowed me, on the day I found out what my husband had done to kick him out and never turn back. I was strong and knew whatever lay ahead we (the kids and I) would be ok .
Somehow we would survive whatever the world threw at us. Life for the kids and I was hard, autism was being seen as a real possibility for my children as we worked to help them, PTSD was my issue but overall we were doing ok. We as a family survived but struggled with lack of supports, poor government assistance and funding and were dismayed by a system that crumbled under the sight of pressure. There is so much more to our story but it is still raw and still too close to home.
The fact is my children and I survived. We are strong and no matter what we overcome life’s hurdles. Over the past 2-3 years, my children have grown in themselves and we have learned to deal with their disabilities and their mental illness even when the system lets us down. We have adapted to not give up and to persevere and make things happen out of every ‘no’ that we hear. Late last year, the tide of our lives turned and now we are achieving our goals and our dreams.
I will for the rest of my life deal with and live with what has happened to me in this life, but as I was reminded today during my PTSD therapy, I made a choice a long time ago to check in to life and stand up and change the world . I am and always have been a survivor. I may have given up in my mind but never truly gave up. I never turned to drugs, or alcohol, or crime and dangerous activities. I have always remained a strong willed, strong headed, value bound person who no matter what fights for what I believe to be right and true. These qualities, which I now after a lot of work accept, are why I and my children are where we are today.
The majority in these circumstances do not survive, they check out of life and they whole heartedly give up. Often I’m asked by professionals, and just individuals “how are you still on this earth”, “why are you not dead” I cannot answer that question one day I hope I can. All I say is I gave myself rules to live by years ago when I was 13 and I also decided at that time that I would not let people feel the pain I had if I could help . It was then that I made my plan for what I do now “Angels for the forgotten” My life has given me lessons that so many won’t ever experience and learn but also so many will sadly live and suffer.
In my own little way I want to change the public’s view on foster children, on the system and on foster carers. Foster carers NEED to be SUPPORTED by the system, the system NEEDS to CHANGE, people from all walks of life need to listen to the children and think about what THEY want and what they NEED. Getting it right when a child is a child will have flow on effects through society and our communities as a whole. FOSTER CARERS ARE VITAL and do fabulous work, for all the hurt I endured I do understand that the root of most of the evil was and is a system that does not support its carers, a society that still does not understand the kids who need care In everything there is good and bad and foster care is no different. Not every foster child will have the same issues as me, every case is different. But common threads will be the same that can be tools to help learn how to change and make things better.
All we can do is try, if nobody tries nothing will change. I have decided this is my last blog about my life. I want to blog about other things about the fantastic work that we do and the fantastic people I meet doing our wonderful work. I will draw on experiences I have had to maybe cast a light on something that may allow others to see something in a different way. This is a good thing, like all good research and planning you call on multiple sources before making a decision. And I want my experiences to be sources for which you can analyze and take away what you need and toss the rest. In life we learn from lessons, I hope my lessons help others to learn something they may never have otherwise learnt.
So I’m sorry this has been a long entry and I probably blabbered a bit but as I say there is so much more and sometimes it’s hard to know what bits to leave in and to leave out.
The full version of my life will one day be published in to a book and it will talk about the sexual abuse and very horrific things that I personally am just not ready to deal with.
( continued from previous post life 6-14 years)
A new chapter, entering state care. So as stated in the last blog I was entered voluntarily by my parents to state care for up to 3mnths. I was collected after school and driven to a town 30 mins away and placed with 2 middle aged ladies I entered care in my tatty school uniform, broken shoes with a school bag of books and nothing more. On the first morning my new carers sift through their cupboard finding clothes of theirs which may fit me. I looked a bit silly but the clothes were ok, I was so embarrassed when they drove me to the local school to meet the principal to enrol but at least I wasn’t naked.
I remember the school giving me a bag of uniforms which I could use. I was to start school the next day; I was excited about the possibility of new friends and a possible new life. The staff all seemed lovely and the principal was very kind. When we arrived home a friend of the carers was there to drop of a bag of clothes which had belonged to her daughter.
Her daughter and I went inside and sifted through the clothes, it was almost like playing dress ups, everything was really trendy stuff I had never seen before and would never of been allowed to wear at home. Things went smoothly at first I made friends with the girl who brought the clothes, kids at school were pretty nice to me and the teachers were great. One day after about 3 weeks a church minister approached me, he said my mum had asked him to check on me (I hadn’t heard from her or my family at all) he said I was allowed to meet with him at the church and there would be no problems, so we set up to met after school. He took me home to my carers, this totally shocked them. He said we had an appointment and that he would return me after a couple of hours, because he was a church minister the carers agreed but I could see they were not happy. I remember driving to the church residence with the minister but I do not remember what occurred or what was said. I remember that night when back with my carers I had a bit of a meltdown, my carers had gotten used to me screaming in my sleep but I don’t think they had ever seen me just break down and cry kick and scream over anything.
I remember the next day being collected by docs and swiftly being returned to mum and dad in my home town. It was a weird feeling I was rather torn on some level excited to be back with my family, my blood I dearly missed my siblings even though we didn’t really have a relationship but they were very young so I couldn’t blame them. I loved my brother he was my only full blood sibling and I feel a strong need to be connected to him even though he hates me. Dad was overly nice whilst the Docs worker was there handing me back gave me a hug but it was empty, I remember the smell of his flannel shirt it made me feel ill. Mum was stiff and distant busy talking about all the conditions of me living back in her home. The docs’ worker soon left I went to my room clutching at my garbage bag of things. I remember hoping straight in bed still clutching at the garbage bag, I slept with it as I was so afraid it would be taken.
Very early the next morning I was awoken by my father the same as I used to be “come on get up there’s work to do” I quickly got up and picked some clothes from my bag and got dressed. I remember walking out in to the dining room ready to start, dad spotted me and starting yelling “what the hell are you wearing” “you look like a tramp” I started crying , I mouthed back and said they were nice clothes I liked them. He picked up his metal work esky and threw it across the room, it hit the side of my leg and I buckled under the pain. He came at me in an almighty rage ripping the clothes of my body calling me horrible names like slut and hoar. I remember running away that morning to my besty around the corner, she was shocked to see me as she didn’t know I was back and we had not had contact since I left. She got me some of her clothes and her mum made me breakfast.
I stayed with her for a night or 2 and then docs found me a new carer, this time I would go to a town 45 minutes away and live on a farm. They were a well to do farming family, the house was lined with beautiful things and the homestead was grand (well to me anyway) I had again only a few things this time it was a shopping bag of clothes my besty lent to me. This was the pattern which occurred throughout the first 3 months in care I was placed with carers, docs would outline to them what my mother determined my issues to be. They were all told I made my family’s life hell and was trouble, so this is how I was treated everyone was harsh, cold and just like my mum. Nobody cared to stop and see what I was actually like. The smallest issue and they would say I had to go. Some carers were fence sitters, they would talk to me , get to know me but wouldn’t allow me near their friends , never took me out in public, asked me not to speak to their children just stay in my room or in designated areas of their house. Every now and then I would get a glimmer and be invited to do something with the family, like farmers would allow me to help feed chooks, check on sheep or walk to the mail box to check the mail. In that 3 months 2 carers stood out , one who was gentle and kind and wanted to keep me she was part of the local dental clinic and had known me since I was 4 even though I didn’t know her other than the maybe 3 times I had a school dental check. Her husband was the local butcher he was nice, always calm. He loved fishing and making his home brew.
She would talk to me all the time; we would sit and watch the price is right giggling away.
She introduced me to wonderful things I had never experienced like hot chicken and mayo on bread rolls.....yum yum, I loved it so much whenever I stayed with her she made sure there was a bbq chicken ready and waiting. She let me eat chocolate bars and gave me my first bra and Levi jeans. Her kids had left home so she didn’t really have much for me to do but we would sit and talk for hours.
My mum and dad harassed her and her husband to no end, sometimes they would sit in their car out front of her house or their work, they would criticize them and hurl abuse at them. Mum told docs that they worked past school hours and so docs said it was unsafe for me to stay because nobody was home when I returned from school. I think the longest stay with them was 2 weeks, but throughout my 4 years in care I would stay there often as a go between placements my mum hated this. The other carer who stood out in those 3 months was a young lady who was 20.
I was her first foster child, she had a boyfriend who was a biker and they lived with another couple who had 2 kids all 7 of us lived in a 3bdr housing commission home which backed on to the western rail line. She was fun there were no rules, and her goal was to give me everything. She gave me loads of candy every time we went out which was every day.
She bought me roller blades, hairspray and lip gloss and other girly stuff. I felt happy but uncomfortable with her and her mates. I mean being spoilt was great but it just didn’t seem right. I had already formed in my mind very strict rules for I was determined no matter what happened I didn’t want to be a statistic.
Being in care I quickly learnt nobody expected me to achieve anything, everyone expected me to be on drugs or drinking & smoking, everybody expected me to have run INS with the law. They all said that was my future and nothing could be done about it I was too damaged and that’s just what is the norm for kids in care. One carer said to me “no point getting to know you, I’m just your baby sitter till you end up in jail or dead” her words stuck with me and made me determined to prove her and everyone else wrong. Anyway the carer who was 20 lived a let’s say controversial life style. Her and the mates smoked cannabis, drank and loved piercings and tattoos. For awhile I was designing tats for her she would take them to tattoo artist in the local city, he would pay her for them and sometimes she would get them on her body.
When her friend s visited I was the little tat artist prodigy, I hated it but at least drawing let me zone out. Again I stayed with this carer on numerous occasions and often whilst other teens where in her care also. It was common to share placements with other kids and you quickly learnt that you basically followed each other as we were bounced from place to place. So in that 3 months I had 13 carers 5 high schools all in different location within a 400km radius, was totally unstable and was rejected by carers and my parents and severely beaten over 15 times but guess what I was still only a state ward under my mum’s wishes the department did not step up and say “right this has to stop” they just continued as is until the following event occurred.
It was the end of the 3 month period and I was sent home to my parents. this time no cosy chat just me and a bag of stuff left at the front door , a quick swift here you go and see you later. I went straight to my room and didn’t speak to anyone, when I got there I was shocked there was nothing in my room. No bed, no desk, no clothes or toys (not that there was ever toys) nothing just floor boards and boarded windows. Mum and dad were right behind me they ripped the bag out of my hands and said “right this is how its gunna be” “you want stuff you earn it,” “you need to earn your place in this family” “this stuff is no longer yours” “you’ve been spoilt all these months well it stops now”. I was angry, scared, upset, torn and just totally bewildered I sat in the corner and cried for hours I was locked in the room till morning unable to even go to the bathroom. I remember trying to get the boards of the windows but I couldn’t, all I got was splinters.
The floor was cold and dusty. I could hear them talking about me, they were telling my siblings how they would make sure I didn’t destroy their lives. The next day mum and dad said I had to get a job to pay for everything I needed including food, clothes and items for my room.
They refused to support a waste of space like me as it detracted from the needs of the other kids. At school I made some posters seeking babysitting jobs, most girls my age were doing it so I thought it should work. I put them up on my way home from school, I was trying to do the right thing and show initiative and make mum and dad proud.
By the time I got home mum and dad had found out about my posters, they were furious.
Dad picked me up and threw me in to my room I hit the wall full force leaving a dent. Dad started kicking in to me and then mum jumped on me and held me down (she was a large women) I was suffocating and could not move. I remember mum yelling in my face telling me how useless I was and how I had embarrassed her and the family by putting up the posters. Dad kicked me in the side of the head when I said “but you told me to get a job” I was in immense pain crying uncontrollably. Mum got up and started to walk away still calling me names and telling me how worthless I was. Dad was telling me to get out and never return I was not family and did not belong with them.
I slowly got up and tried to leave as I did dad grabbed me by both arms pulling me back, mm turned and grabbed my hair pulling my head down “see that speck of dust on the floor? It worth more than you” and she sat in my face. Dad let go and stormed of saying she’s not worth it let her go she can f...... off out of here and not return ungrateful bitch. As he walked off I stupidly said “good I hate it here anyway you are the worst parents in the world” with that mum lunged at me and swung at me in a claw type motion in one foul swoop she ripped all the gums off my top teeth, blood began to poor out of my mouth and the stinging was unbearable she turned and walked away. As I hobbled out of my room through the house to the back door mum and dad were calmly sitting down to a cup of coffee and my siblings were in the lounge watching TV one sister was curled in the corner sobbing (she always did this). I ran to my bestys house around the corner, her mum put a wet face washer on my mouth and drove me to my old carer the dental nurse over the other side of town.
Once there she was horrified and rang the doc’s manager at his home. He came straight out to her house, he looked at me took some notes and then left my carer who took me to the hospital to be cleaned up, they took some photos fixed me up and then my carer and I went back to her place. At around 10pm that evening the doc’s manager came back.
He had been with my parents talking about what had happened. He took my carer aside and spoke with her; she raised her voice for the first time in my presence and started to cry. The manager asked me to go to the car, so I did. That night I was returned home to my parents. When reading my file last year I read the managers affidavit about this incident he clearly states “In my opinion Melina was assaulted by her parents this evening” after much discussion and changes in stories the parents admitted to the assault”. I have spoken with the parents and they have agreed to Melina returning to the family home and assured me they will not disturb Melina tonight and a case worker will visit in the morning.
A case worker is not recorded as ever attending the home in the days after that event. I took it upon myself to leave the next day and stayed with my besty around the corner. A few days later at school a new incident occurred which has scared me for life. My mother was angry that I was living with my friend (she hated her) mum was friends with the principal of my school; they were both lay preachers at the same church. Mum was well respected in the school due to her various roles and had a strong relationship with the family GP and the local Psych Nurse.
That morning mum rang the school and had a discussion with the principal (I did not know this at the time but now know due to reading the files and reports) she told him that I was dangerous and she feared for the safety of other students and the school, she claimed I had threatened to kill teachers and students (which I had not, records show I was a high achieving student who until placed in care was liked by staff and was never a problem). The day was a normal school day, everything was quiet and calm. I was sitting in maths class with an older teacher and I was next to my besty that I lived with.
She and I had a quick 30 second spat about who owned a stupid plastic green ruler. The teacher asked me to step outside; I told her I thought she was over reacting but calmly went any way. I went and sat at the end of the hall were you had to go if sent out of class. Soon the school counsellor appeared and started freaking me out, she was getting close saying things like, “I want you to stay calm”, “how are you feeling now? Do you feel in control?” “ I don’t want you to stand, just sit and wait for the principal calmly” this was so weird because normally you are just left there and when the bell go's the teacher comes gives you a slip and off you go. Suddenly the principal and 2 other staff come around the corner they take my bag and basically smother me in to his office.
Everyone steps away quickly and then it’s just me and the principal he shuts his door and stands in front of it, he says “help will be here soon I want you to stay calm....can you do that” I’m so confused by this point I ask him to let me out and he refuses. The walls started closing in on me and I was finding it hard to breath. Only the week before I had been sexually assaulted in that school which everyone knew so being cornered in a room with a male acting weird was really not helping me stay calm.
I started pacing and he kept coming towards me trying to grab me. My bag was near the wall so I grabbed my impulse from my bag and started spraying him to back off I was so scared. The next thing you know 6 burley police officers stormed the room, the principal stepped aside and they grabbed me now I was kicking screaming, scratching biting what the hell was going on!
They picked me up and carried me out over their heads my pants were coming down and I was fighting for dear life. I was thrown in to a police car and an officer sat on me to keep me still, we want a round the corner to the hospital. I was dragged in there screaming and still fighting. I was restrained on a bed and injected with drugs. Mums friend the GP was administering the meds and soon the Psych nurse showed her face. Nobody would tell me what was going on. The doctor gave the police extra needles and drugs, they quickly put me back in the car, crushing me and pinning me down to keep me still. They drove super fast to the city just 100kms away soon we were at the local mental hospital, I was dragged in side. I really didn’t feel well and the world was spinning. A doctor came and everyone else backed away. He calmly asked me to come and sit in a room; I said I would only go if everyone left me alone. He promised nobody would come near me. I was placed in a room with one of those double mirrors; I sat quietly on the chair sobbing looking out the window at the other patients in the secure garden area. 4 hours later that nice doctor walked in and said “you can go home now” I sat in the waiting area for awhile and then a docs worker arrived to pick me up nobody said a word. According to the reports on my DOCS files and in my medical records, my mother and the principal had me scheduled based on my mothers claims that morning. The Psychiatrists at the facility refused to take me they said their observations and their reviews of records showed there to be nothing wrong with me. I could not be scheduled for no reason; I was not mentally ill or a threat to society. The report from the psychiatrist said I was simply an abused child who had been treated poorly and was now traumatized. He warned that their actions that day were unacceptable and potentially damaging to my future and current overall health and well-being. It states that he would not be surprised if I lost faith in every human being. I was driven back to my home town and dumped at my old carer the dental nurse’s place it was very late at night, I remember her running at me and squeezing me so tight. She was crying and her tears melted in to mine. I remember her telling the docs worker to get out as she slammed the door. She wrapped me in a blanket and sat with me in the lounge all night that night.
We didn’t speak much but we both understood each other. Somehow, I ended up in bed and woke well in to the afternoon the next day. Not long after I woke up one of her work friends arrived. He was cool we had chatted briefly before about his love of hang gliding. He arrived with the biggest basket you could image overfilled with every chocolate you can imagine. He sheepishly gave it to me and said “I put lots of milky bars in there for you” they were my fave. He and my carer sat and had coffee and I sat watching TV rummaging through my basket of goodies. After he left I asked my carer why he brought me the gift. She quietly said “he was at the hospital yesterday for work and he watched what happened, he was terrified by what he saw” it was “him who told me”. We didn’t say much after that but I understood. After these events DOCS lodged papers with the courts to have me made a ward of the state till I was 18years old. The whole town was abuzz with the events and what had occurred, people were mad and wanted action taken against those involved.
After about 3 placements it was decided I should go out of area to a boarding school so as to calm the situation with a hope of making it all just go away. Nobody wanted to accept responsibility for what happened, and docs didn’t like people asking why nothing was done years ago and why did this happen. Mum and dad were charged with child abuse and ordered to stand trial. So now the next phase begins as I leave my home town for boarding school. Again writing this is hard and I need to break it up. What you read is only segments of my life some parts are just too horrific or to unsettling for me to disclose at this time. Please if you think someone is being abused speak up, because you may be the only person who will.
NB: any reference to "dad" unless otherwise stated is in fact my "step father" as i did not get to grow up with my biological father.
( Continued from previous post "where it all began")
So as you can see life from 0-6 was hard, but that’s nothing compared to what would be thrown at me in the next chapter of my life
I was still treated like a slave that never changed. I gained more siblings and more baby nappies to wash by hand I progressed to having to wash my step fathers work clothes, always filthy and covered in tar.
Every day I would watch my siblings play in the yard ,my step father built a mini house a replica of our home filled with homemade wooden toys fit for a king, a stove, a fridge, trucks , babies cradles and so much more.
A miniature clothes line ran down the side of the cubby and a mini veggie garden for my siblings to pick and play with. For hours on end they would play in the cubby, on the trampoline, on the swings and slide or in the massive sandpit made from a large tractor tyre. The yard would be heaven to any child.....just not for me.
When I wasn’t working doing chores I would be confined to my room so small I could lay down and my fingers would touch one end of the room and my feet the other. My room wasn’t really a room it was a cordoned of area of a sleep out. My brother had the other entire end; a large cupboard my father built divided the room with a curtain for my door. I had the very end of the room, if I wanted to get out I would have to enter his room and risk brotherly anger for trespassing on his space.
My windows were nailed shut to stop me from climbing out and running away, it didn’t stop me I still got out by cutting the screens.
I had a small bed and foam mattress (which was often dragged outside for me to sleep on), no carpet in my end just unpolished borders that would give me splinters, no dresser or anything nice just a make shift desk almost like a shelf attached to the cupboard which divided the room.
Some days I would be locked in their for hours (my brothers door was lockable) or even days at a time. I remember the sound of my family celebrating Christmas and Easter or siblings having birthday parties, the sounds of the laughter of all those who visit, the smell of the food, the music that played. “Don’t you dare make a sound", “don’t you dare ruin your sisters party you worthless slob”. “You inter-fear it will be the last thing you ever do!” one year it was too much I sat in my room kicking and screaming wanting to come out. I remember my sister and all her friends gathering outside the window to see what the commotion was,
my sister in her usual snobby fashion would yell “daddy my crazy sister is annoying my friends”, they would all run off as my step father would storm in to the house, I would be thrown about, kicked in the side, slapped about, picked up by the scruff of my shirt and dragged to the front door where I was often promptly told never to return.
I would leave crying and injured but happy to be free. The feeling of walking the streets was so wonderful to me; I was never scared and paid no attention to what was going on around me. My favourite thing to do was to walk along the open country roads that led out of town singing songs I would make up as I walked, I would sing at the top of my lungs, skipping and twirling about without a care in the world.
Other times I would walk the train lines for hours and hours, stopping and fossicking through the rocks looking for quartz and little crystals. At times the lines would be scattered with grain, I would pick handfuls up and store it in my pocket to eat latter sometimes I would sit in local parks and use it to feed the birds.
No one ever seemed to mind that I (a small child less than 8) was wondering around aimlessly unsupervised. Some nights I would sleep in the tunnels on the local park equipment, I loved the sensation of the static electricity on my skin.
One morning I awoke in the tunnel to see an elderly man in a funny white jacket with a handful of oranges and a tiny figure of a farm animal.
He was wonderful! He sat and spoke with me, I told him my story and he peeled the oranges giving me each segment one at a time whilst I ate them, they were so juicy and rich like nothing I had eaten before.
He pointed across the street and said “see that building and that house? You will find me there every day”. It was glorious a lovely big house which covered the corner rows and rows of beautiful plants, he took me by the hand and walked me over the road. We wandered the garden and he would tell me stories about the plants and his wife, his children and his passion to grow fruit trees. He loved to live off the earth around him.
Towards the back of the yard on the side of the property there was a peculiar white building, we went inside and to my surprise it was a dentist surgery. “This is where I work" he said he went to the cupboard and pulled out a jar full of miniature animals thousands, they were so lovely. At that moment I remember his wife walking in with a plate of fresh biscuits she sat them next to me and said I could have as many as I wanted. She grabbed a few things then knelt beside me and said “can I clean these wounds for you?” I was a little worried but said ok. I had never had anyone pay me so much attention. The gentlemen had gone in to the next room I could hear him on the phone, he sounded worried and cross. When he came back he whispered “no luck “to his wife.
Shortly after that he asked where I lived and drove me home.
On the way there he said “if you ever need us you come. If your ever hungry go in to the yard and take some fruit”, “visit as much as you like any hour ok” I nodded and as we pulled up I started to feel sick he went to the door and asked for my parents “they yelled and screamed at each other but eventually the gentlemen walked back down the path and said “you have to go now but don’t forget and winked” my mother quickly reefed me in the house.
He drove away and I cried. Mum sat on me and dad laid in to me. “What have i told you about your silly stories! No one will listen, you are crazy you are worthless.” Soon after this mum started dragging me from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist. Every time it was the same “she is mental” “she is trouble””her back is crooked” her legs aren’t straight “her eyes are useless. They would go along with it; I would be subjected to testing, poking and prodding.
Sometimes mum would get a win and I would have to have surgical investigations which always came back negative. Then mum amped it up a bit; according to my child protection file from 1989 DOCS started to pay for all the medical visits my mum wanted and now this included psychologists and psychiatrists. I remember mum getting madder and madder because every time the story was the same they would attack her not me. She resented this and would say if she is crazy it’s only because of me I caused it. Docs sent me to Sydney specialists to try and help my mum. their letters would tell the doctors I was a troubled child with no evidence as to why, mum and dad are struggling to deal with the child...
When recently reading my childhood files I found 2 reports one from a specialist inpatient facility in Sydney and another from a local psychiatrist who had been paid to give a second opinion on the first report.
The specialist facility said “the parents openly disclose they have no love or bond with the child” the relationship is distant and cold” if any improvement is to be seen in the child the bond between the parents needs to be repaired”. My ability to properly asses the child was hindered by; I fear parental influence “I suspect threats of abuse towards the child for speaking the truth”.
This report according to my file went down like a tonne of bricks, mum was not happy and demanded second opinions.
The second report was more damaging to my mother than the first.
some comments in the report were “Even though the child refused to disclose details to me it is evident she is an abused child, to the nature and extent I can not accurately comment”
"This child is detached she feels unloved and worthless to an extent I have not seen".
"The parents openly describe their views that the child is mentally ill or deformed in such a way that she is of no value to them.” “All developmental testing indicates no sign of mental illness or disability in the child”. “This child if not given a loving home will be unlikely to survive through to adulthood”.
It is an 8 page report and other comments are so hard for me to read I simply can’t bear to re-write them. The point is, it was clear someone needed to save me. My parents truly didn’t want me and they didn’t care.
My life continued in this fashion for many more years. No intervention occurred. As I got older things I had dealt with my whole life became harder to deal with as I matured for example , my mother would always shave my head , I would be bullied something fierce, I would smell and get teased for that, have no school lunch and got teased for that. My teachers treated me poorly because mum was on the school board so in their opinion I was just a naughty feral when compared to my spoilt siblings. For many years I would vist the elderly gentlemen and his wife, they would clean me up, give me food and often be heard talking down the phone in stern voices only to hang up and return with glum looks on their face.
When high school started things changed again, new teachers, new kids, more bullies but best of all a few more people who would from a distance look out for me. I scored a couple of friends they were my besties.
The beatings and abuse got worse the older I got, one day I returned home from school and my father threw a large rock at me for being late. It hit my elbow and it bled. I remember screaming then being told “I’ll give you something to scream about you lazy .......”, as my father ran at me, I remember waking up in pain and dizzy on the back gravel stones. I staggered to my feet and walked out the back gates and then just aimlessly wandered the town. It was very dark and late by this time and i sat to rest by the council chambers. A senior from school walked past with her mum, she ran over to me and called her mother to come. They didn’t say much just helped me to their car and drove me to the hospital.
X-rays were taken and I was cleaned up. Docs were called they didn’t talk to me just looked and then after a phone call I was returned home to my mum and dad. I don’t remember the rest of that night or the following morning, but I do remember that afternoon.
as I walked home from school a new car pulled up beside me. A lady stepped out and called my name, I turned and she approached me, introducing herself as a doc’s case worker. She asked me to travel in the car with her and I did, we didn’t go anywhere in town we headed out along a main road. Neither of us spoke the whole way. It was only a 30 minute drive and we were soon there. I walked up to a house sheepishly following behind. We were greeted by two middle aged ladies and taken inside. we all sat around the table and a meal was sitting there hot and ready for me to eat.
The case worker spoke up and said “this is your new home for a little while; your mother has asked for a break and feels she can’t live with you. She has asked that you make no contact until she is ready”
According to my childhood files which I have now read, that day my mother went to the office and demanded I be taken using the words and I quote “if you want her you can f....in have her cause she’s nothing to me”.
That day my mother got a temporary order from the court making me a state ward for three months but at anytime she was allowed to change her mind and take me back. Docs and the court agreed and signed to this making it legal.
For tonight I will leave it there as that chapter closes and the chapter of my time in foster care opens.
This story is only a brief version of the events of my life and is far from over, but I need time to sit and regain strength before writing more.
However i would like to say One good thing which happened recently this year is that after 16 years I reunited with my 2 bestys from high school and we are still as close as ever.
I’m so lucky and so grateful to have two women who shared such a horrific part of my life with me back in my life and now we are all looking forward to enjoying life together without trauma and sadness.