When Meg was 12, her mother, Annie, found herself unable to look at her. Seeing her daughter made Annie feel unsettled, at times almost angry. At first, she couldn’t figure out why.
“And then, Meg turned 13 and suddenly, everything slid into place for me,” Annie says.
“I found myself thinking, ‘She’s so tiny. She is so little.’ And I realised I was actually talking about myself, not her.
“It felt like something just broke. It was something big and ugly, and it just broke.”
Annie was 13 in 1987 when an Anglican priest began sexually abusing her, over a period of eight to 10 months. Seeing her daughter turn the same age was a trigger that not only bring back memories of the abuse, but that also helped her to comprehend just how small and innocent she would have been.
Annie’s experience of cover-ups, betrayal and being failed by those who should have protected her has become all too familiar in such cases. But it is the experience of her family members she wants to highlight. Little attention has been paid to the impact of sexual abuse on those close to the primary victim. They are the secondary victims, whose stories are often lost.
– Melissa Davey