Silenced!

Victims voices
and stories
are
often silenced.

A parent abuses a child, yet that same parent is also responsible for feeding and sheltering the child. Fear of retribution deftly silences the child.  No adults are seen as safe.

Condemnation and punishment await an unruly and antisocial boy, who has no words to describe his chaotic emotional world or the abuse he is experiencing. Opportunities for disclosure are lost.

A teenage girl internalises her shame, silenced by the myth of the perfect family. No one would believe what happens in her family. The self-inflicted slashes on her thighs scream her pain, but no one hears.

The young woman sexually assaulted at work doesn’t complain. She believes she’ll lose her job. Her workmates don’t understand why she no longer joins them for Friday night drinks. They mistake her withdrawal for snobbiness and stop inviting her. The #MeToo campaign hasn’t changed her world yet.

A separated parent, hearing that the Family Law Court sometimes view a complaint of child abuse against the other parent as vexatious, remains silent. They long to see their child.

A victim of institutional abuse does not have the education, power, money, or skills to fight a monolithic organisation. Those with power and money use delaying tactics to maintain silence, perhaps like Lucky Cardinal Pell.

We seal our lips

A psychologist writing the biography of a Forgotten Australian is advised by pillars of society not to publish. Although hopeful we are only silenced temporarily,  I dread that it will be forever.  I swear and rant against this suppression, yet they assure me silence is in the best interests of the victim.

My friend. who I will now call Ms Fogotten Australian, is both despondent and infuriated. Once again her voice is silenced…….. Oh and we can’t tell you why, so please don’t ask.

Are you silenced?  Let me know how, either in the comments below or on the Notforgotten facebook page.

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The Birth of a Book

I’m writing my dear friend’s biography, which has the working title of Not Forgotten.  It’s been a labour of love, but often, more like hard dull labour than passionate love. I have felt like a pregnant elephant, holding this huge story deep inside me for the longest time.  But elephants only gestate for two years, and this book has been in production for over four years.  I now know that four years is not unusual for a book.  The process seems endless – interview, research, write, get feedback from readers, edit, interview more people, write, get more feedback from readers, edit.  Repeat multiple times.  Then become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, drown in self-doubt, pick yourself up and get going again.

I blogged in 2015 for a year. The purpose was to hone my writing skills while my husband Steven and I enjoyed six restorative months away from our busy lives, travelling the world.  Those posts are still here, now mostly irrelevant, but I can’t bear to delete them.  Since then I have continued to work on Not Forgotten. Now I’m firing up the blog again to motivate me through the final stages of labour – getting it from a manuscript to publication.

During the gestation period Not Forgotten has led me to thought-provoking places; the magnificent State Library of Victoria, an orphanage for critically ill children in China, a psychiatrist’s room, a rock climbing expedition and decaying buildings in Far North Queensland.  I have become the keeper of my friend’s family history, with cupboards overflowing with documents, diaries and photos of people I do not know.  My life has been enriched by the growth of a cherished friendship.

I can’t wait for you to meet my friend in Not Forgotten. I know you will be astonished at her courage, I hope you will admire her, as I do.  In 1954, at just two-years old, she was placed in St Joseph’s Orphanage, Neerkol.  My friend is one of 500,000 so called Forgotten Australians. This dismal label describes a group of adults who, as children, were mistreated and ignored in Australian institutional care between 1920 and 1970. These children spent their childhood in State, church and charity run orphanages and homes.

Sixty years later my friend courageously gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.  Her life has been a battle to recover from the abuse that was perpetrated against her as a child.   Its been an honour to hear and record her story.  Now I just need to find a way so you can hear it too.

Where a journey takes you

P1080249We take many journeys through life and they are not all connected with travel.  Major life journeys I have enjoyed include studying at university, getting married, building a house and of course having children.  I love the way you start at some place with no clear view of where you will end up, and the journey unfolds as you go along.  I have long believed that life is about the journey not the destination.  Writing the book of my friends life has been another journey that has led me to delightfully unexpected places.

When I agreed to write the book, I envisaged Continue reading

What’s this blogging thing you’re doing Anne?

During the Christmas holidays I said to Steven “let’s start a blog for six months while we’re not working”. He’s kind of used to me making random suggestions, that seemingly come out of nowhere, and jumping on board. We didn’t know anything about blogging but we’re always keen to try something new. In the last month I have learnt so much: I can reply to comments, Screenshot (1)know what a widget is and have made a customised header using Picmonkey. I have become obsessed with wasting time watching the stats page to see how many views we’ve had. We’ve discovered that blogging can be a great couple activity. After 28 years of marriage we are learning to communicate in a completely new way and that’s fun.

Now I’ve joined Blogging 201, a WordPress course for newbies like me, and they’ve asked me to Continue reading

The Enduring Book Club

Book ClubWe’ve been meeting now for about six years. We were originally all connected through our work but our paths have now separated. There were a few more of us, but now we are just five. We are all counsellors, psychologists, case managers and social workers. We plan to meet about once a month….. but it usually ends up with a bigger gap as we struggle to find a shared date that fits. We sometimes remember to talk about the book.

I love this warm, funny, smart, caring group of woman. It’s a safe place to talk about the challenges of our work, to get suggestions and Continue reading