‘When I rang for my files, they kept saying that they were lost in the floods, and I thought, I’m not taking “no” for an answer. I asked, again and a lady said, “Yes, we’ve got your files”. I think they had been very untruthful. In my files, there were pages and pages all blanked out.
I was 8 years old when I was sent to the Salvation Army Home for Girls, and later to Diamantina Receiving Depot, which we called Dirty Rotten Dump. It was a terrible place, dark and miserable. I was 14 years old when I was sent out to a place to work for this couple and look after their children. Workmen used to come to polish their floors and I would offer them a cup of tea. One man put his arms around me and I just elbowed him saying “What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” He dragged me to my room, and he raped me. It was most terrible and awful thing that has ever happened to me. My body was bruised and bleeding. He threatened me, “I know where you live, and if you tell anyone, I’ll kill you”. I had to wash my sheets and I could hardly walk up or down the stairs. He would come to the house when the couple were away, but I didn’t answer the door. He would call the phone and breathe down the line. I started to run away and would be brought back by the police. One day I went and stood on a bridge and thought about jumping off. The couple said, “You’re a bad girl, you’re going to another home.” So, they sent me back to the institution.
A few months later I didn’t feel well, and went to the toilet, and blood was pouring out of me. I walked down the hallway and I collapsed on the stairs. I don’t remember anything. I can’t even remember going to the hospital. I don’t even remember being in the hospital. When I came back from the hospital, I went to work in the laundry of the institution. One of the girls said to me, “Pearl, do you know what happened to you?” I said “No”. She told me I had a baby. I said, “But I don’t have a baby.” She said, “But you did have one,” and she explained everything to me. Through that rape, I could not have children of my own.
I adopted a wonderful daughter and I have three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. And it’s the most important thing that ever happened to me, along with my husband who I was married to for 60 wonderful years. He died three years ago and I miss him.’
-PEARL QLD, 2019
Survivor…and avid pokies player