At the age of 11 my stepfather unbuttoned my pyjama top while I was sleeping in bed one night. I awoke to him undoing the last button.
I asked him what he was doing and he said I was yelling in my sleep and he came to comfort me. I did up my buttons again and then went back to sleep.
In the morning I told my mum what was happening and she replied that he was with her all night and I was making it up.
That was the moment I realised adults don’t always believe you and that my stepdad touching me wasn’t something they were going to be worried about.
From then on it was five years of escalating sexual abuse until I moved out of home and reported it to the police.
This resulted in a three year long court battle in which my entire family, who knew the truth, denied it and sat on his side of the court room until the day he pled guilty and was sentenced.
It is because of the abuse that through my late teens I gave my body freely.
I was sexually aware too young because of what he was doing to me and it was the only affection I got.
So instead of dating guys I’d meet, I would just take them home and sleep with them.
I rarely enjoyed it, but who was I to say no? I didn’t feel like I had a right. If I wanted affection, then my body was there for the taking and that’s all it was good for.
I began self-harming just to see the blood and to know that my pain was real, to try and get some kind of release. I hated how my body made men look at me; my slim physique and my full cup breasts. Whether I wanted attention or not I got it, so I gave it up easily.
It wasn’t until I had my eldest son that I started to love my body, how it grew a life and changing, blowing up like a whale and then shrinking back within a few short months.
I didn’t care about my stretch marks. I used to study my thighs and the gap between them, but after having a baby I fell in love with my ‘battle scars’ and cellulite.
My body wasn’t something I had to fight anymore. My body wasn’t anyone’s but mine and I chose what happened to it as it was now responsible for another small person.
After my second pregnancy resulted in miscarriage, I was upset at my body thinking it failed.
But during the birth of my second son I gained a new appreciation for my body and what it could do.
I gave birth without drugs (by accident) to a four and a half kilogram baby with a giant head after 36 hours in labour.
I was in awe. I felt every part of my body ripping apart. I thought I was going to die. But after he came and I was ok and he was ok I knew this was what my body was made for; growing a life and bringing it into this world with all its might and power and intensity and endurance.
I could care less that I’m not back to my pre-baby body yet, my baby doesn’t care either.
If you or someone you know needs help with an abusive situation you can get support at 1800 RESPECT.