Changing the future of her children by facing the demons of her past

I am 14 years old.

In my bedroom, lying rigid and still. Mute. Terrified. 

He's in my room, standing below my bunk bed. I can see the reflection of the moonlight in his glasses.

He's whispering, making noises I don't understand.

It's the middle of the night. My mother is on night duty. 

I am alone. 

Finally he leaves and I can breathe again. My bed is wet from the rivers of sweat my body has cried. I stare at the doorway for the rest of the night and count the minutes until the dawn makes me feel safe again.

I tell my mother that he was in my room. She asks him why? He tells her he was using hypnotic suggestion to help me relax and prepare for my exams. 

She believes him. He's her boyfriend after all. Perhaps she thinks she has no choice. I think she does. She chose poorly.

There is no lock on my door, so each night I jam a chair under the handle and wait. I stare at the colourful oceanic glass, knowing I will see him at least once each night on the other side, distorted, listening, waiting.

I forget how to sleep.


I am 15 years old.

In my study, preparing for an exam, deep in thought. 

He comes to the door. His eyes are rimmed red from the drug he's been smoking.

He is giggly, like a child, when he tells me I have something on my eyelid. "Close your eyes," he says.

He kisses me and I recoil, disgusted, confused and very, very scared.

I tell him never to touch me again, that I won't tell Mum because it will upset her too much. She has enough troubles, working hard to raise us by herself.  

He laughs and swaggers off.

I stop wearing pretty clothes. I stop wearing swimmers. I hunch my shoulders and hide my body under baggy shirts. I disguise myself as asexual, uninteresting and untouchable.

I forget how to be a girl.


I am 16 years old.

In the bottom of the bath tub, shower running cold, I am in a child's pose. Foetal. 

He has climbed on top of the dresser in the next room to watch me over the partition wall between the two rooms.

A bright flash of light, the click of a camera and the drag of the film moving on to the next frame makes me drop like a stone to the floor of the bath.

He has just taken a photo of me, naked in the shower. There is nobody else at home.

I stay there for over an hour, numb from shock and cold. He is pacing like a lion on the other side of the door, scared, worried, guilty. He keeps talking to me, asking me not to do anything stupid but the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the blood in my ears muffles his voice. 

Sometime later, I hear my mother's voice through the haze. Home early. Did he call her? 

"Come out, darling. It's okay- I'm here now." She's crying for me, for herself, for what she's about to discover.

I slowly move, my body has seized up and it's painful. Fully dressed, I finally emerge with my head held high, body tense, eyes on fire and ready for the war I am about to wage on him. It should have been on her as well, but she'd been through enough in her life. I didn't want to give her any more.

I start off quietly, at the beginning. My heart starts to race, I am in control and think I will win. My mother is cowering, a cornered animal, a deer in the headlights. He is leaning against the doorway, halfway in but safe with an exit route. He looks smug, self-satisfied, but defensive. He shrugs as the charges are laid against him. He says, "So what if I find you sexually attractive. You're at the prime of your life- this is the best you're ever going to look- what a waste not to appreciate it. 16, young and beautiful - who wouldn't?" 

Something in my soul snaps. 

I scream then, I tell him he has to leave the house. I look at my mother, waiting for her to say something. Waiting for her to become the parent she needs to be. But she says nothing, she is mute, she has disappeared inside herself. Which is when I know I am all alone and fighting for my own rights. 

This is the moment I turn into an adult. 

It takes him three weeks to move out of our house. Every day I must see him, when he emerges from his room. I stay longer at school, I visit friends, I hide in my room. I never say another word to him. 

When he leaves, I bury the anger at my mother into a very deep hole. And there it stays for 13 years... festering.


I am 29 years old. 

It's the week before my wedding. We're having it in our new home, and we're frantic, focused and very happy.

The phone rings, interrupting the flow and chaos.

It's him. I know his voice before he tells me who it is.

He asks if I'm okay. He's worried that he did the wrong thing and that it might have destroyed my life. He's looking for absolution.

I don't give it to him. I tell him to get out of my life and never enter it again. I am white hot steel but when I put down the phone, I am 16 years old, melted on the floor into a child's pose. Foetal.

I tell my fiancé, I tell my Mum- they are both there beside me, wondering who has called? What has reduced me to this state? They both cry, alongside me.

6 months in counselling, beating up pillows with my mother's face, his face and my absent father's face on them brings me back to 29 years old again. He is gone from my life and it's time to move on.


I am 43 years old.

I am in charge of my life. I am married to a good, strong man and we have two young children to protect, to nurture. They trust me. They trust him. We are a strong team.

A frank discussion with an old school friend about being molested as children comes from nowhere, and we cry together as we share how we are changing the world now for our children because of our past. How we have forgiven our parents, but not forgotten the incidents that still haunt our dreams. How we will never let that happen to our children. Ever. 

We hug - a long, true embrace of two strong and mindful women who have come so far despite these experiences. We promise to keep in touch, say good-bye and I go inside to check my e-mails. And that's when I see it.

A message from him.

He has tracked me down, found me after all these years and sent me a note to say he was thinking of me and to send his deepest regards to my mother. It was sent at the same time I was talking about him with my friend. Like he heard me. I want to vomit.

But this time, I am not on the floor. I am not a child and I am strong. Shaking, I can still stand tall. I call my friend who's just left and we agree to fire a shot across his bows. I tell him, by return message, that he must never make contact with me ever again, otherwise I will call the police and get him registered as the paedophile he is. And then I remind him why. 

Just like I'm telling you.

I have walked away from him now, from that part of my childhood. I can put on a pretty dress and spend beautiful time with my husband and children in a trusting environment.  

I can't change what happened in my past, I won't pin my absent father against a wall for not being there to protect me. I won't break the relationship I have built with my mother by doing the same to her. But I will stop the wheel from turning. My children will be safe under my care. And if they can't talk to me, they can talk to their Dad, who I trust with my life and theirs. And the other safe, trustful and loving people we have surrounded ourselves with. 

That's all I can do. That's all any of us can do. And it's what they should have done... but didn't.