Woman Who Was Sexually Abused Says She Was Abandoned by Anglican Church

By Andrew McRae
Radio New Zealand via Stuff
December 9, 2020

A woman sexually abused by her foster father for many years says she was abandoned by Anglican Social Services which placed her in care. (Stock image)

This story was originally published on and is republished with permission.

Warning: This story contains distressing details.

A woman sexually abused by her foster father for many years says she was abandoned by Anglican Social Services which placed her in care.

The 58-year-old witness, Ms M, has given evidence to the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care in Auckland.

She was seven when placed in care along with her older sister.

M and her sister were sent to the foster family for a six-week holiday but it ended up lasting much longer.

"Our first foster father raped, abused, assaulted and terrorised us for the next five years."

She said they were dumped by welfare agencies.

"No one came to check on us once we were placed with the foster parents of the West Coast. No one from Anglican Social Services checked on us. No one from the Child Welfare Division checked on us."

M said she and her sister were subjected to not only sexual abuse but also psychological abuse.

She gave the Royal Commission a snapshot of what life was like.

"Have you ever heard a crayfish scream as it's being put into boiling water? I was terrified, and then later when I went to bed there was a live crayfish in it. My foster father had put it there just to see me react in fear.

"On Christmas morning I opened my present and found my own pet lamb's tail in it."

She said she learnt to laugh and show no fear.

''I realised that he wanted us to cry and so I learnt not to. I still don't cry very often, however, distressed I might be.''

M said they spent their lives walking on eggshells.

"Imagine being a little girl and trying to judge your carer's mood by how much milk he put in his whiskey and then knowing what was coming.

"Watching your sister being thrown across the room and then going to sit on his knee trying to keep him sweet so you wouldn't be next."

She said they often went to school with black eyes.

"We both went to school covered in bruises from the stock whip. No one ever asked us if we were OK."

She said after five years of abuse of every kind she became a walking zombie.

This part of her life ended with her foster father being charged with unlawful sexual connection. But to her surprise, he was acquitted.

"Everyone thought we were liars after the trial."

She said she now knows that an acquittal means the jury are not sure beyond reasonable doubt that a person is guilty.

"But people don't understand the court process, so, by directing the jury to acquit, it was as the judge had labelled us as liars. Whether or not that was his intention, it followed us everywhere. Everyone was warned about us."

M ended up in another foster family, this time without her sister. This foster father also sexually abused her.

"Even after independent witnesses, with no reason to make anything up, said they had seen him abusing me sexually, no one did anything to protect me. It seems as if having made a complaint once, which was the truth, I am forever seen as being at fault."

At 16, she was then sent to another foster family, where her foster father was a church minister, but not for the Anglican Church.

He too sexually abused her. Again no one believed her.

M said she had been deeply affected by the abuse she had suffered over the years.

She has major depression, chronic complex post-traumatic stress disorder and has struggled with addictions all her life.

"It has affected my education. Due to the sustained long-term effects, I've never been able to work full time. I haven't married or been in a relationship for 30 years. I would have liked to have been married and had children.

"It has had a major effect on my wairua. My connection to my heart and soul has been deeply blemished believing I was going to hell if I didn't get things right, that I was being punished here on earth by God because of abuses committed in the name of God."

M said the Anglican Church, which sent her to her first foster home, then washed its hands of her.

She said she was speaking out not to be vindictive or out of hate, but so her sister, who has now died, can get the recognition that was never given to her while she was alive.

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