The day I cried at my desk

the day I cried at my desk

*Trigger warning – this post contains material that may cause distress*

Often my work leaves me shaking my head. Today, in an open plan office, I put my head in my hands and cried at my desk. I cried for a little girl I have never met, whose name I will never know. I cried for her loss of innocence. I cried because of the fear that little girl must have endured. I cried because that little girl’s life has been shattered by a person who should have loved, cared and protected her. I cried because that little girl is one of countless victims.

The little girl I cried for was three and a half years old and allegedly sexually abused by her father. In her words ‘He put my bits and then he did this, he put it into my bits’ and later ‘Um, there was sauce in it’ and he ‘put his sauce into [her] mouth’. It’s a despicable and horrendous concept.

I won’t dwell on the legal details of the case but the court found, among other things, that the little girl gave inconsistent accounts about the sequence of her father’s alleged interference with her. I’m a lawyer. I get the whole ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard of proof. In fact, it’s fundamental to our criminal justice system. In this case, the Court decided there was a reasonable doubt about the father’s guilt. He was not convicted of any offences. I’m in no position to assess the validity of the courts decision. I didn’t hear the evidence. Still, it made me uneasy.

Today I wondered to myself, surely a three and a half year old can’t make this stuff up? I simply can’t imagine a child that age creating such an elaborate and sexualised story. The court questioned the reliability of the little girls evidence, yet isn’t it normal for a child to get the precise order of things muddled up?

I’m often asked how I cope at work, with the things that I read and hear. Most days I’m stoic, not today. Today was the first time I cried at my desk. There was something about that little girl’s story that upset me. It was a long way from the most heinous of stories I’ve heard. Yet it struck a nerve.

I do try to take some positives from my work. I try to arm myself with information about how to protect my children from sexual abuse. When I’m a little less emotional and feeling more robust, I might share a few of my insights with you. I’ve previously reviewed the book My Underpants Rule! which is a great way to introduce a tricky topic to your child. I know child sexual abuse is not a topic that is easy to discuss and it is hard stuff to digest. But, knowledge is power.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT.

43 thoughts on “The day I cried at my desk

  1. Thanks for sharing this live and big hugs to you xx I don’t even like reading this stuff, I can’t imagine having to listen to such stories on a daily basis and stay positive.

  2. Some people are animals. How can a 3 yr old be expected to tell her story consistently every time? Horrendous that he is free to do it again. I hope the girl is no longer in his care at least.

  3. Oh my goodness. No wonder you cried at your desk. It must be so difficult to remove yourself emotionally from such situations. I can’t even watch the news because it distresses me. But, hiding from it doesn’t make it go away. Thanks for sharing. Because you’re right – knowledge is power.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Leanne. I’m generally pretty robust but every now and then something strikes a nerve.

  4. I think this is a very powerful message, although I am unsure why the details needed to be shared in such a explicit way.
    I feel very sad to think a child has to try and have a life after this and the scum bag father (not my word of choice) gets to walk away.

  5. I used to read documents that were often basically police reports of such things. It is hard. It’s so hard not to let it get to you and some days it just does.
    I don’t know anything about the case (obviously) or the law but it does sound like a possible flaw in our system that is created by a fundamental part of our system – reasonable doubt is critical but also a kid is never going to be consistent. Heck, most adults aren’t consistent!

  6. So awful. So so awful! I would have cried too. I read these types of abuse in the papers and wonder how many other kids are going through abuse like this. It’s heartbreaking and makes me sick.

  7. Oh how tough it is when little kids (and bigger ones) endure this and can talk about it with apparent knowledge. I’ve been a school principal and in my first years in a particularly challenging community was privy to the words that kids needed to use to help the officers from Child Protection understand what had been happening to them. I like knowing there is someone as caring as you …take care. Denyse

  8. Totally agree knowledge is power. When I was 9 a friend was sexually abused by a boarder in her parents house. He was a member of their church. They had never discussed sex with her, so she believed him when he said it was a secret game. It was only when she told me I knew it was wrong and told her so, because my mum had the talk with me.
    You do an amazing job, but take care of yourself. I don’t know how you do it.

    1. Now that is exactly why we need to have these conversations! There’s no point pretending it doesn’t happen because it does. Thanks for your insights Michelle.

  9. Ugh!!! Heart breaking! I’d sob right with you! I doubt a three year old could make that story up but you’d hope like hell she got muddled up. Hoping she is in a safer environment now and you get the best outcome for this tragic case. That’s a hard job you’ve got there. We’re lucky kind hearted people like you are working it all out xx

  10. You are truly an amazing sole to stay so positive with what you read day in day out. It is horrendous to think of little people being subject to this. Such innocence taken away too soon. Xx

  11. I honestly don’t know how people who work with abused children get through it all. It’s all so heartbreaking. You must be a incredibly resilient and caring person, the kind of person that these kids need xx

  12. I hope the little girl grows up to be a big strong brave girl and can help other people too. I hope this doesn’t define her life (although of course, she is changed). I hope she finds some peace. And I kinda hope her Dad is castrated, painfully.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!