Just a note to inform I wrote this blog approximately 6 weeks ago. But given it’s heavy content and the way in which it heavily impacted my soul, I haven’t been able to go back to it. I’ve been approached by several journalists asking to interview me. I’ve declined every one of them because what has upset me and added to my sleepless nights as much as the abuse of children, is the way in which it is voyeuristically reported.
TRIGGER WARNING… I’m about to get unapologetically real.
Why is it that what happened to a 13 year old lion in Africa has ignited more media coverage, outrage and empathy here in Australia and around the world than what happened to a 13 year old girl in Perth? Don’t get me wrong, I am just as appalled as the next person that this innocent lion was killed and I understand that we can be equally outraged over different tragedies. But when a little girl is sold by her father here in Australia to other men and it doesn’t even make the six o’clock news, we need to seriously look at ourselves. Or when it is reported, the media continue to sensationalise that which needs NO sensationalism, and a little girl’s unimaginable terror and suffering, in one careless sentence, has been minimised and reduced to a grotesque click bait title.
When it comes to writing, while I appreciate my gift, I never realised how much I have taken the written word and my ability to articulate difficult subjects for granted. Crafting ugly truths in a particular way to make it less shocking and more digestible for others. I somehow find a way to keep people at a safe distance while absorbing the raw pain in clever analogies and effortless flow on sentence structure. I inject humour at the right moments after eluding to but carefully dancing around the detail… until now.
To be completely honest with you, I’m struggling to protect people from the ugly truth and the evil we blindly walk past in our daily lives. And when I read the paper or watch the news, on the abhorrent reporting against abuse victims, each time, something inside of me dies. The conversation then flowing from this at times leaves me frustrated as well. Ignorant comments such as, surely these things don’t happen in our first world countries. Because that is the lie we are content to believe, granting us permission to turn the other cheek and remain blissfully ignorant in our indifferent bubbles. But as much as this one gets to me, my new favourite mindset would have to be this; (and I do hope my sarcasm isn’t lost on you all here) Surely looking at child pornography on a computer doesn’t constitute as a criminally indictable offence. Looking at it and making it – two different things. Really? Is it though? Allow me to elaborate…
When an individual is paying for, viewing and getting off on images of children being ABUSED, they are placing their sick perversions above the safety and welfare of innocent children. They are not thinking of that child as a person. A human being with rights. They are willingly participating in the rape and abuse of minors. They sit anonymously behind their computer in the safety of their own home while these children whose images they view are forcibly removed from their homes and taken to remote locations. Or and probably more often than the former, these children are being abused in their own homes by those who should be protecting them. So really, what these “innocent” men are willingly viewing is not a pornography studio, but a crime scene.
When children are exploited, dehumanised, consumed and commodified for the pleasure and gratification of men, that is a crime that should carry significant penalties.These images are not of child actors pretending. Contrary to whatever lie people tell themselves to justify the viewing of images containing children, this isn’t a victimless crime. These images are of real children being brutalised for the harmless pleasure of men. And that “innocent” man behind the computer is driving the market demand on this global epidemic.
Now, allow me to introduce you to these children 30, 40 and 50 years later. Todays adults who were once these sold and exploited children, repeatedly raped and used in pedophile and pornography rings for the viewing pleasure of the “innocent” man engaging in criminal activity behind his computer. I must warn you, and forgive me for the following difficult paragraphs, but what needs to be told is the truth. And forgive me again, and perhaps forgive me especially, for no longer having the desire to protect people’s natural preference to rather not know about what happens to these young victims who grow up to often become broken adults because of the physical, mental and psychological damage inflicted upon them as children.
I have heard from many broken adults who have suffered extreme childhood abuse but I want you to meet Michael. He is from Canada and was brave enough to allow me to share part of his story. What he had to say is raw and real and exactly what we need to understand and what nobody wants to know.
Im a victim of childhood sex and physical abuse as well. I was lured by one of my best friends into a pedophile ring that my grade five teacher used to sodomise us. The judge ruled that they should be put to trial. I was assigned a lawyer, whom I heard from twice, and then never again.
I’m sure I didn’t remember [parts of] the abuse because he and his friend beat me into submission and then sodomized me until my [rectum] collapsed. These memories stayed buried even when I saw [my abuser] at the hearing. The memory of his other friend’s abuse which took place on the same school sponsored field trip was less violent and easier for me to remember.
Anyway, you have my support and empathy.
I’m not sure why Ontario has a problem recognizing and dealing with pedophile rings like the one I have pointed out that I’m sure still exists?
Reading your story helped me; thanks.
I responded to Mike and asked if he would allow me to quote some of what he told me. He kindly and bravely agreed.
Hi Carrie; thanks for responding. Please feel free to use my name, or not; I’ll leave it up to you. I am pretty focused on “getting” these idiots, even though my last effort failed miserably.
I am also truly sorry for your pain Carrie.
I am really happy you survived, and that you are still strong.
I still see my friend who was abused with me. He lives in an apartment with his ninety year old mother. The apartment is literally behind the school where this happened. Other victims live there as well. They are jobless and in some sort of paralyzed state.
As I mentioned, I have been struggling to craft this blog for the better part of a month now. Most of which I have written on my phone as I tend to do. And for the most part where I have been doing my writing and thinking has been in doctor’s offices, during scans, procedures and recovery rooms. My lower back pain is chronic and has been a part of my life since I was a child. It was my therapist who pointed out to me the cause. ‘Carrie, the bodies of little children were not meant to be banged around and violently forced upon as yours was.’
Sciatica has been a part of my reality for most of my life. I knew I had herniated lower discs. When it flares up and I can’t sleep at night, it tends to be then when my anger and sadness sometimes get the better of me. I also just discovered that I now have arthritis in the facet joint of my lower spine. Last month I had two epidurals and a cortisone injection in hopes to provide me relief. Sadly, I’m still waiting.
The reason I tell you this is because remaining ignorant, stuck in denial or taking our time coming to terms with child rape being a huge problem in this very broken society in which we live, does nothing to help the little girl or little boy who is being sold to be raped and abused as I write this piece.
Child sexual abuse is difficult enough to recover from. But imagine the added trauma of knowing there are pictures and videos out there of your abuse. Think about how devastating it must be to know that your lowest, darkest, most traumatic terrifying moments were captured and are being viewed over and over and over and over and over again. That men are bypassing the terror and dead expression in your young eyes and failing to acknowledge your suffering so that they can get off on your image. Derive pleasure in your pain. I mention in my book to this day I cannot have a polaroid photo of myself taken. I can still smell the chemical on the film and it makes me sick to my stomach. I still feel the humiliation and the dread. Sometimes I shake uncontrollably because moments like those come back with terrifying clarity. To put much thought into where these images may now be, 30 odd years later, is a luxury I cannot afford to entertain because it causes me such anxiety and limits my ability to function in life.
We need to properly address and prioritise violence against women and children. Have the solution based discussions and stop sticking our heads in the sand and denying the issue. God forbid we risk feeling uncomfortable, overwhelmed and helpless for a minute in order to get deliberate in our intentions and ability to be honest with ourselves. Yes abuse of this magnitude happens in our so called First World, developed countries and it is far more common than we would like to believe. Are we really so naive to believe otherwise?
So to that 13 year old girl who still has her entire life ahead of her,
Despite how you feel, you can still be ok. Despite how this is being reported, you will never be placed in the broken beyond repair category. You are able to rise above this. And you were never anybody’s sex slave. Nothing that happened to you was ever your fault. It was never about you and everything to do with their inability to be decent human beings.
Promise me, when people reach out to you, you will reach back. When someone opens their arms to you, you will fall into them. When someone offers you love and compassion you will accept it without hesitation because you no longer believe that lie holding you prisoner. You are worthy. When the anger makes way for the sadness you have been too scared to own and those tears burn like acid in the backs of your eyes, you will let them fall freely. I promise you they will stop.
That shame you still hold onto, not that it was ever yours but someone had to carry it and they were all incapable. Promise me you will let that go. It was never yours to bear. You likely haven’t heard it in a while, but you will laugh again. Your heart always remember how to smile.
You will not be defined or limited by what was done to you. Your freedom starts now. Your life can still be significant. You will find the treasures that were put on this planet for you alone to discover. That is the journey. We all have a destiny, and if there can be a silver lining taken from our brutal beginnings, I believe it is this;
There is a knowing that exists inside our souls that will remind us for the rest of our days, our spirit holds immeasurable strength and our character, infinite courage. Remaining grateful for the life you have been given and letting go of time that’s passed, this is the gift of perspective and it has the power to hold you in good stead for the remainder of your tomorrows.
So another sleepless night reading interesting articles and one got me scrolling through my personal Facebook pics thinking about things. As I thought, I recalled an email I received a while back from a young woman with a history of abuse who was struggling with her sexuality. Wondering whether her abuse was a contributing factor to her being gay or was she born that way? I’m afraid I didn’t have a worthy response at the time. Not that people come out and ask me directly, but often I’ve been questioned about my personal life. In particular my ability to have intimate relationships with people. Jon Faine asked me directly (and over stepped I feel) but I answered the only way I know how… Honestly. Have I been able to recover from what happened to me? Largely I think so. Has there been any irreparable damage as a direct result of my past abuse? Absolutely. What I said on the Jon Faine interview was I am unable to trust men. Given my past, most would find this totally understandable. Some men take offence and say not all men abuse. Women abuse as well… Blah blah yawn. I don’t understand why men get their back up because I don’t trust them. It isn’t personal. It is a direct result of my experience. And are we not all impacted by past experience that largely shape who we become and how we see the world? Sure, we can heal and grow and overcome many things, but I’m rather happy with how I’ve turned out. Do I need to work on things? Of course! Who doesn’t? Yes, women do abuse as well but this has not been my experience. Women, for the most part have played a pivotal role in my healing. Stepping in and loving me through the hurt. Seeing in me potential and taking the time to nurture that with me and stand back and watch it grow. My answer to Jon Faine was as follows; I am a great friend but I make a lousy partner. Does that mean I identify as gay? I’m not sure. The same story applies there. In the past, intimacy has made me run a mile. I have many beautiful friendships with women and a couple great guys and I seem very content with just that. Friendship! Im not looking for a life partner. Will I ever? Perhaps. And given my past, would I be able to overcome my fears, trauma and limitations to go beyond and have a beautiful relationship one day? Possibly. The one thing I know I am very good at, is loving people. I do it with my whole heart. Always have. Many of my close friends tease me about how I dress. They think I wear the baggy guy clothes so not to attract male attention. They don’t think I’m gay, but more damaged by what happened to me as a child. That women are safe. And then I read that article last night in Elle on Ruby Rose on gender fluidity and non-binary. And then I started thinking about my natural style. What I am most comfortable wearing and how strongly opposed I am to the frock. I’ve never been one for labels given so many have been placed upon me growing up. I am who I am. Am I a product of what happened to me as a child? Probably. But I attribute all my positives to that as well. Gotta take the good with the bad, right? I’ve not posted anything like this before because I’ve not fully identified as anything. I don’t give it a lot of thought to be honest. But when Ruby was talking about gender fluidity and I had a look at how I often dress non gender specific, it sort of fit for me. It’s not a sexuality thing. But is it a gender thing? I dunno. I am female, I know this. But do I identify as such? Like really embrace my femininity? No, I can’t say that I do. Growing up, I hated being a girl. It meant I was hurt. My whole Refugee claims case was built around being persecuted as a member of a particular group – female. So maybe it is more that for me. It’s complex. Like we all are. I have been judged my whole life. I guess the positive in that is it has made me tolerant and accepting of others. There is no one way to be. I think it is dangerous and narrow minded to think otherwise. We are who we are for whatever reason. Maybe we are born that way, maybe experience plays a hand. But at the end of the day, does it really matter? Gay. Straight. Bi. Trans. Gender fluidity. Non-binary. Who gives a flying cuff? So to the young woman who sent me that brave and beautiful email with a totally different take away message from my book… I’m so happy my story gave you the courage to come out and be yourself! Be proud of who you are! You made me think about a lot of things. And like I said, there’s no shame in who you are. I’m not sure why I am so reluctant to publish this, but like everything else I’ve done so far, if I can help one person out there who feels all alone, it has been worth doing. I am so blessed and so humbled my story is resonating with so many in totally different ways. Many ways I never imagined possible. Ok. That is all. As you were soldiers 😊
There are times when life is messy and ugly and painful. Exhausting, unforgiving and cruel. When it hurts so much, you just wish you had the guts to end it. I get it. I’ve been there. My lows were scary low sometimes. So much so, that I don’t ever want to talk about it. I always say I choose to focus on the rising. Not the breaking. And I do. Because this mentality is what has carried me through the depths of my despair. But before I could see the light through my own darkness, I had to know there was a light to search for. That there is light. That I was that light. I am that light. You are that light. And it changed my life.
This movie resonated so much with me. I saw myself in the anger and despair of Aniston’s character. Her lost soul following a path of self destruction. I’ve felt that hopeless before. I’ve touched that anger and I stepped out of living. I used grief as an excuse to hold me prisoner in that space and I chose to harbour that grief and not step into life. That was the choice I made, though I didn’t realise I was choosing anything at the time. It was simply my reality. It was awful. And it hurt so much that I don’t even like remembering how how helpless and hopeless I felt. I don’t like to talk about the darkness. But you know what? Sometimes we need to and it can still be ok. Because although life can be cruel and unforgiving. Messy. Ugly. Excruciating. Unjust. Plain frikkin hard. It can also be gracious and beautiful. Loving, nurturing, hopeful. Fair. And worth it. So so very worth it.
And because I have occupied both sides of the spectrum in my life… Walking the line between heartache and grace. Moving beyond not only the childhood abuses, but my adult excuses. I know that painful, amazing journey intimately. And yes, there were many lows, you don’t forget the lows. But you know what that does? Makes the highs phenomenal! Helps you find the extraordinary in the ordinary. It is the ordinary moments that make up the majority of our life. When you can find extraordinary in the simple privileges in life, life will start loving you back.
This is one movie I cannot recommend highly enough because it is so real. So beautiful, raw and authentic… and we can all relate.
Cake 2014 – Jennifer Aniston gave the performance of her life.
She deserves an oscar.
September 20 1996 my journey began. Exactly 18 years ago today, I tasted freedom for the first time in my life. Stepping off of that plane, I didn’t know a soul and it was the best feeling in the world. And now, nearly two decades later, I am experiencing freedom again – but in a different way. I was the cover story for a magazine today and how I was portrayed, the victim slant and sensationalism honestly humiliated me. To the point where, other than a few close friends who have been so supportive, nobody knew. I woke up this morning and didn’t want to face the day… the thought of one person reading that article let alone one million (I’m sure it was nowhere near that amount but I am just going off the readership stats) gave me such anxiety. So much so that I started losing sight of my focus and my vision, and I allowed my fear of what others would think to cloud my judgement and doubt my journey and the decisions that have led me to this point… and then the emails started coming in.
Initially it was all men. Lovely messages from dads horrified that the most important person who is supposed to protect a little girl could do such a thing. Men apologised to me on behalf of all males. Other men told me that they had been abused as little boys and thanked me for my courage. And then women started writing to me. Young women, older women, moms, and grandmothers. I was quite surprised that the article had even resonated, as it was so shocking and graphic. My fear was that it would scare people away from my actual message. When you are dealing with such a heavy subject matter, you have to be so careful in your delivery because you risk people turning off and shutting down. I was so careful in the way I crafted and told my story throughout my book, making sure I had the right balance of shade and light and the way I wrote my poem. Because before a message can resonate and hopefully inspire, you need it to land! If a message doesn’t even get the opportunity to land, what is the point of having one?
I will answer each and every person who has reached out to me. Thank you so much for telling me the impact my story has had on you. Thank you for the ability to see beyond the horror portrayed in the article to see the essence of who I am and why I am doing this. I received so many amazing messages and one heart breaking message from a determined mom whose daughter disclosed abuse and died tragically days later. This woman’s pain and courage gave me the courage to post the online article to my social media sites to share with my friends.
As I have always said, each and every one of us is a little broken in some way. I am just a reminder to others that no matter the trauma, it can be possible to rise above suffering and make that flight on broken wings.
Thank you from my whole heart. Your words have lifted me up and inspired courage to push through my fears to continue to be that point of light for others. You have all been points of light for me today. xx
Brave though I am, releasing my story into the world to be judged and picked apart, I have been more scared about my daughter reading my story, and the impact it could have on her. She is nearly fifteen, but I am certain this is not her first time on this planet. But still, it is a mother’s job to protect their child from the evil that exists in this world. As a mom, especially a mom with a background of severe abuse, it is a top priority for me to ensure my children have a childhood that is the polar opposite to the one I endured growing up. And for nearly fifteen years, I did just that. And my biggest challenge was the balancing act between not being over protective and paranoid for their safety, and at the same time remaining vague and busting my ass to protect them from the darkness of my past. I never wanted them to know what happened to me.
I have always been very selective with whom I share that part of my life with – until last year when I decided I needed to come forward with my story to be a point of light for so many souls still struggling in the dark. I am very proud of the body of work I am releasing into the world. But I am also aware that people can be cruel and I will be judged. This terrified me for selfish reasons (nobody likes to be torn apart by insensitive, ignorant people) but it mostly worried me for my girls…until last night.
I lost all fear of that after writing in the very first copy of my book as I handed it over to my daughter. I don’t even know why, but as soon as I wrote what I did, I knew she would get it. And this foreign feeling of comfort seeped into my bones. (Don’t get me wrong, I still felt like I was gonna have a heart attack after releasing it to her) She then went upstairs to bed to begin reading it. A few minutes later I was alerted that she had tagged me in a facebook post (she’s 15, so as you can imagine, this never happens!)
Her words have humbled me beyond measure, made me proud, made me ugly cry and marvel at the young woman she is becoming. And as a result of this, has made me more driven than ever and ready to own my story so that others may do the same.
Although relieved, I still remained wide awake in bed as the time ticked on and I tried to imagine what part she was up to and hoped she was ok. Just after 11pm I caved in and sent her a quick text asking if she was alright. She said that she had just come across a shocking bit. I took a deep breath and replied, “End of chapter three?” She said, “Yup. But I am ok.” I believed her, mostly because I had to and for years I knew that she wondered and her questions were finally being answered. I owed her that much. We never spoke about him. She may have asked about him half a dozen times when she was really little, but I just instinctively dismissed it and moved on to better topics… anything really. I can’t even recall how I would have gotten out of it. She has been a switched on kid from the moment she was born. My change in demeanour, perhaps the terror in my eyes I tried unsuccessfully to mask. But whatever the explanation, she knew not to push it further. And so for years, we left it. An unspoken topic. The elephant in the room that neither one of us dared to address.
The hours passed and my anxiety grew. 2 am – surely she was sleeping. As I lay in the dark, surrendering to my heavy lids, my phone lit up. It was three in the morning when her text came through. She had finished reading my entire book.
And she gets it! She, at nearly 15 years of age, had the ability to look beyond the darkness and into the light to receive the essence of my message. Something some adults haven’t been able to do. There have been some who haven’t been able to read my book because they find it too traumatising. My defensive response, although never verbalised was initially, “I am so sorry that my lived experience, which I have been painstakingly careful writing about, with the protection of the reader (and myself) in mind, has somehow been too difficult for you to digest. (sarcasm is my go to defensive comfort spot) But that isn’t fair for me to do, and so I try to be mindful and empathise with another’s shock or compassionate when all they can have for me is pity and they miss the whole point of my intended message because they get stuck on the detail.
But now, I can honestly say, I am no longer worried about how my book will be received by the public. Many will get it. Some will not. But nobody has the world as her audience. To be honest with you, the way I see it, I have already won. One of the 2 most important people in my life has put my mind at ease. So anything that happens after this… is all ok with me.