Nobody’s Child is an incredibly powerful account of one woman’s journey from her first recollection of sexual abuse in the 1970s at the age of five, at the hands of a family friend, through to being targeted by her step-father and other abusers in her childhood, to her survival as a young woman.
From a time when child sexual abuse was not talked about and barely acknowledged, Natasha reflects on her childhood, the cycle of abuse, the impact of her mother’s own childhood, her mother’s complicity in the abuses Natasha suffered, and the absence of protective and aware adults in her life.
There are so many barriers to disclosing child sexual abuse and as Natasha talks about speaking out, the challenge of navigating our legal systems, and the long term effects on various aspects of a survivor’s life, I can’t help but think of the duty of care our families, adults in our communities, organisations, and importantly governments have towards our children.
As I read Natasha’s personal story, so bravely shared, I reflect heavily on the lessons her childhood have for those of us working within the system and working to protect children from sexual harm and other forms of abuse. Natasha speaks eloquently about her relationship with her mother and the impacts that an emotionally absent, and psychologically and verbally abusive parent has on their child, including their vulnerability to harm by others.
When we talk about the protective factors that impact on the resiliency of a child and ultimately serve to protect a child from harm, so many of these were missing from Natasha’s childhood. That she grew into a strong, empowered adult, able to share her story is such a testament to her, and perhaps the scattering experiences of kindness throughout the turmoil of her childhood.
Honesty, pain, hurt, isolation, strength, fear and survival are themes peppered throughout this book. The harm that Natasha experienced as a child, no child should ever have to endure. Through sharing her story, through laying herself bare and allowing others to hear the impacts of the abuses perpetrated against her, Natasha is letting others know, they have nothing to be ashamed of, that they can survive, that they can thrive in life.
Director or Research, Bravehearts Foundation, Australia.