I lived in terror of Dad being drunk and hitting and yelling at Mum or us kids. I was scared to have an opinion of anything that happened in our home. And I was too ashamed to invite friends home lest they see an uproar.
Despite this, I was a fairly happy child. I vividly recall the anger and fights, but there were happy times, especially the family vacation that my parents made sure we had once a year. Mum and Dad spoilt us with material things. Nobody could ever say anything wrong to me about my father, but I hid in my make-believe world, trying to convince myself that everything was normal at home.
A bikie club from Queensland came to my town Easter time. My girlfriends and I were at the hotel Friday night, drinking, but not with the bikies. They scared and yet intrigued me. My friends went home, but I decided to stop at another hotel on my way home. I found that it, too, was full of these greasy, bearded monsters. They were standing around drinking and having a great time laughing and joking. As I walked over to speak to a friend, one of the guys shouted, "Here’s a bottle of wine for the prettiest girl in town."
Aren’t they nice! I thought. Then one asked if I wanted a drink and a ride on his Harley. He even asked if I’d like to move back to Queensland with them. I felt as if I were part of their family. From there we rode out to their camp. I loved the feeling of freedom and acceptance I got from these overly rough people. They were being so nice to me. I felt like a princess. There were perhaps five hundred of them at the camp and yet most of the woman were quite a distance away. I thought this a bit strange. I sat on the ground with the guys I rode out with, feeling pretty special that I was getting so much attention. It didn’t seem peculiar that men were coming over and checking me out; it all seemed overwhelming. I had been accepted and would soon be a patch member, I thought. Finally I was where I belong.
After about an hour I needed to relieve myself. As I walked towards the only tree, two men, then three, then more were coming after me. Something was wrong. In my fear I somehow managed to yell at them to go away. They kept coming; more and more of them. It looked like an army of men. I had no where to go except to run in the opposite direction. I ran and ran but they caught me. I was stripped, then spread-eagled and immobilized. I was at their mercy.
Straight whisky was poured down my throat. It came out my nose, it was in my eyes, it was everywhere. They kept hitting me around the head – to try and keep me quiet, I guess. One of them raped me. When he had finally had enough, another took over. When he eventually finished another took his place. Then another. And another. Was the whole camp going to use me? Would it ever end? Ten. Twenty. Thirty? I’ll never know how many more because I lost consciousness. A doctor later expressed amazement that I didn’t die.
When I came to, they were all gone, except for an guy about 40. The pain was so excruciating I could hardly move. I thought every bone in my body was broken and my head felt like nothing I’ve ever felt again. He dumped me back at town and warned me not to tell the cops or his mates would kill me.
When I got myself back together, about a week later, I went to the police. They said I didn’t have a case as I didn’t go to them straight away. "Do you know their names?" they asked. The bikies were strangers and there were so many of them. The police clearly had no idea of the enormity of what I had suffered.
Reeling in Pain
All I could do, I decided, was forget the whole thing and get on with my life. But my existence for the next 20 years was hardly worthy of the term ‘life.’
Never mind the police not wanting to help me, my husband wouldn’t believe me either. We broke up because of my excessive drinking. So now I had two children and no father for them. (How in my drunken and drugged stupor I ever carried those babies full term I still don’t understand.) Thank God for my parents. They looked after us, especially my children. I loved my father dearly and all I had to do to get his approval was sit down and drink with him. So Mum had me and Dad and my children to look after.
Somehow it was bikie-types that I could relate to. Being a one-man woman, I was just known as So-and-so’s old lady. Nobody cared enough to know me any better and that was just how I liked it. I hated myself and wanted no one to know about my painful past. In time I had my third child.
The Path to Joy
By 1997 I had lost a lot of weight and was so haggard-looking its scary now when I think back. Death was just around the corner. When visiting a doctor to get a prescription for Valium, I exclaimed, "Man! Am I feeling crook! What can you give to help me?"
"God is the only way you’ll ever get out from where you are," he answered.
This guy’s a real loop! I thought. I’ve gotta get out of here. This guy’s the last thing I need. But somehow I ended up letting him lead me in a prayer for forgiveness of my sins. Nothing seemed to happen. I was still crippled by chemicals. But for the first time in my life I thought that God might be the answer. A gleam of hope had pieced my hopelessness.
Two of my children were old enough to be out on their own but not "Missy." At 13, she was still my baby. If only I could break my chemical dependency I might get her back. I checked in at a detoxification centre, followed immediately by a rehabiliation farm. They told me God wouldn’t help. I, too, had dark doubts but nothing else had helped. I prayed for hours a day to be freed from addiction’s death-grip. Christians were also praying for me. I was meant to be at the farm for up to a year, but after a few days I left, still taunted by alcohol but free at last from my 20 year addiction to Valium and illicit drugs. I had been been taking one to two dozen 5mg Valium tablets a day.
Then I found myself in church asking Jesus into my life a second time. To my continued amazement, the craving for drink has never returned. At one point, loneliness, and heartbreak over my daughters, left me deeply distressed and discouraged. The thought came that I might as well dump Jesus and go back to drink. Like a dog returning to its vomit, I downed some scotch, then regretted it and called out to Jesus. I should have been back in the inescapable Alcatraz of addiction. I deserved no less. No one has the right to a second miracle after trashing the first. Yet my prayer was heard. In the nearly two years since Christ stopped my drinking, this was the one time I touched alcohol.
In so many ways God has powerfully changed me. To my amazement I even found myself using the word ‘sugar’ instead of my usual swear words. That’s not me! I thought, as I listened to myself.
God is true, I know that for sure. I beg of you: trust and believe in God so that you, too, can be set free.