Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Story

I want to share my story so that maybe someone else that is going through the same thing can know they aren't the only one.

Twenty six years ago, I was 14, living in Newcastle, NSW, Australia. My parents were Salvation Army officers. Through the church we met Troy Walker and my brother and I became friends with him. He had to move out of where he was living and so he moved in with us. My brother and I would always go out to different places with Troy and our other friends, we trusted him.
Every Thursday afternoon my parents would do a bread run, where they would go and pick up bread and other food items the bakery hadn't sold and would distribute it to those that didn't have a lot and needed help. On one particular Thursday, I didn't go with them as I had an assignment to finish so I stayed home. After going to the kitchen to get a drink, I went to walk back into my room but Troy was blocking me from going in, he threw me on my bed and raped me. I stayed in my room until my parents came home but didn't say anything to them, I didn't tell them till a few days later.
A few weeks later, my brother and I went over to our friends for a sleepover, Troy was there as well but I didn't think he would do anything as all our friends were there. After watching some movies my friend and I went up to her room to go to sleep, after awhile Troy came in the room and raped me again, I didn't scream or make a noise as he told me to be quiet, I couldn't believe that it had happened to me again.
I went to the police to report it and filled out the report but after a few days I decided that I didn't want to go ahead with it as I didn't want to face him in court. My parents went to their bosses in The Salvation Army and their bosses put the blame on me and told my parents not to take it any further and swept it under the carpet. After my parents meeting with their bosses, they decided that they weren't going to continue being Salvation Army officers and pulled out.
After the first incident I did try and kill myself a few times, as I got older and still struggled with the demons, I started having one night stands, as I thought that was all I was good for, I did start hitting the drink to try and numb the pain.
Last year 2014, I got a call from a detective from Newcastle in relation to the rapes, someone else had come forward and when the detectives did some searching they came across my report. So they came down to Canberra to take my statement as well as my parents statements. After that they said that they would be arresting him over my assault. With it all being brought up again I had to change my anti depressants and started having sleepless nights.
This year in July, it finally went to court and I took the stand, I was on the stand all day Tuesday and most of the morning on Wednesday. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, facing him in court and the defence lawyer was so brutal. My parents took the stand on Wednesday after I had finished, once they were finished we then left to go to the airport to go home. The detective messaged me on the Friday to say the jury had gone out, so it was now a matter of waiting to see what the jury would come back with. On the Tuesday, after lunch, the detective called me, the jury had come back with a guilty verdict. I was over the moon about it and was happy that he would be finally getting what he deserves.
I wasn't his only victim, and there was a trial before mine and he was found guilty on that one as well, cause of the guilty verdicts in the first 2 trials he ended up pleading guilty on the other ones, which saved the other victims from taking the stand.
In September, I had to go up for sentencing and we all read out our victim impact statements, the actual sentencing part was put off and is suppose to be this Friday 16th October but haven't heard anything as yet. I am hoping that it is this Friday so that I can finally close the door on it.
I have been in contact with victim services and they are organising for me to see a psychologist as I am not dealing with it all, I am so emotional and having sleepless nights, I need to get my life back and be able to move on. I am using adult colouring in books to help me and I find they help take my mind of it all and I just zone out.
I thought he could be trusted and was a friend, how wrong I was and then to find out that he had done it to others and is a paedophile was a kick in the gut. I sometimes think that maybe if I had gone ahead with my report and taken it further he might not of done it to others but I do realise that its not my fault and there was nothing I could do to stop him. Thankfully he is going to get what he deserves and be where he should be where he can't hurt anyone else.
I know that it isn't the Salvation Army's fault either but I won't step foot inside another Salvation Army church as to me they let me down and for that I will never forget.

9 comments:

annette said...

Michelle...this was a very brave thing to do ..writing this would been extremely difficult however it shows strength..stand tall & proud,you are beautiful, precious & admired for your courage ..May you be truly blessed,also your family as you journey on into the future ..hugz

100 happy days said...

Michelle, you have done an incredible thing standing up for yourself. It's was a difficult decision but one that will truely make you a much stronger person, even if it doesn't feel that way right now. You are an inspiration.

Ollie Orkins said...

Hey well done you, I know what its like to go through this, and although it will always be there knowing justice has taken hold and your story has been told is vindication for yourself....Face the future with a smile now hunni x

Sam Baird said...

Michelle, I have more than admiration for your courage....every day. The courage that you face life with every day-just getting up to be part of another day of living. You survived. This is cause for celebration-every day. I understand your relationship to the Salvation Army. It resonates for me and my relationship with a church denomination here in Canada. I wonder when the world will begin to believe the victims...whatever age they are, whatever gender, whatever ethnicity, whatever socio-economic status...I wonder?? When the world does start to believe the victims, in every country around the world, I wonder what timely action will be taken to hold the predators to account, WITHOUT causing more pain, shame and psychic/physical trauma to the victim. I wonder what churches and organized religions will do about the predators that lurk in their midst professing to be upholders of the faith (which ever faith the denomination espouses to have and live by) I also want a new lexicon, a new word for "victim" so that we can rise up and move beyond this to claim our rightful place in our own psyches, temperament-character and continue our journeys in rightful relationship in the world. Thank you again and again for sharing your story and writing it so simply with a gentleness that I think perhaps is your character. Love yourself always.

Unknown said...

It takes courage and enormous inner strength to not only to face the trauma of the past, but then to confront it in the legal process takes it to a whole new level with complexities of its own. You will have the courage to heal now that you have given yourself a voice, something you didn't necessarily have at the times of the assault. The path to spiritual and emotionally healing is a lifelong and difficult one, you are a survivor and as all of us other survivors we can help strengthen each other and lift one another up in times of uncertainty. God bless you, what a strong person and you will never regret the others you have saved and for sticking up for yourself even if it was at a later time.

Jessica Snavely said...

It takes courage and enormous inner strength to not only to face the trauma of the past, but then to confront it in the legal process takes it to a whole new level with complexities of its own. You will have the courage to heal now that you have given yourself a voice, something you didn't necessarily have at the times of the assault. The path to spiritual and emotionally healing is a lifelong and difficult one, you are a survivor and as all of us other survivors we can help strengthen each other and lift one another up in times of uncertainty. God bless you, what a strong person and you will never regret the others you have saved and for sticking up for yourself even if it was at a later time.

The Creative Makery said...

You should be so very proud of yourself. You did not deserve what happened to you years ago, and did not deserve being blamed and ignored by the very people that should have protected you. Good for you for going through with the prosecution now. He victimized far too many women, and I'm sure more than those that actually came forward. Please know that what you did requires an incredible amount of strength and courage. I hope that you are able to heal and move forward with your life knowing that the he has finally be held to answer for the pain he has caused you. Wishing you the very best.

Unknown said...

Hi Michelle, I am so glad justice after such a long painful journey is finally going to be served. It is very upsetting to know that way to often voices, like ur own often fall on "deaf ears", Its to hard, difficult to comprehend, your lying the above EXCUSES are just an example I have noticed in the past with my own horrible experiences. Family may be one of the first people u may tell, it makes the horrible experience worse..when they turn a blind eye afraid of what their friends work members may say so they pretend nothing has happened. Surely a respected person could NVR do such a disgusting volgur action.who do u turn to.Suicidal thoughts deep depression ....the sun slowly peeps thru the dark clouds when u finally hear the scum bag will finally get all the punishment he deserves...Best wishes for ur life journey

Unknown said...

Hi Michelle, I am so glad justice after such a long painful journey is finally going to be served. It is very upsetting to know that way to often voices, like ur own often fall on "deaf ears", Its to hard, difficult to comprehend, your lying the above EXCUSES are just an example I have noticed in the past with my own horrible experiences. Family may be one of the first people u may tell, it makes the horrible experience worse..when they turn a blind eye afraid of what their friends work members may say so they pretend nothing has happened. Surely a respected person could NVR do such a disgusting volgur action.who do u turn to.Suicidal thoughts deep depression ....the sun slowly peeps thru the dark clouds when u finally hear the scum bag will finally get all the punishment he deserves...Best wishes for ur life journey