It’s not always the tears that measure the pain ........ Sometimes it’s the smile we fake.
Often, I wish I could reach back overtime and whisper to my 13-year-old self-it’s going to be okay, don’t be afraid, in the end it will be alright. I obviously can’t do that, which is why I have created no more fake smiles instead, as suffering in silence is no longer an option. If you have come here, you are looking for knowledge, help and understanding. You may be a current victim looking for a way out, a supportive friend worried about someone, a concerned parent unsure on what to do, you are someone who cares. Which is perfect because I care too!
Throughout my experience of years of abuse by my stepfather I felt so isolated, disconnected and like I could not relate to one person on the entire planet. I felt alone. I was so silenced, living my life in fear. I acted ‘normal’ however, on the outside I was a perfect child a part of a great aussie family. I had great friends, played multiple sports and attended a prestigious school. I looked like any other teenage girl, but definitely did not feel it. When you’re young and some things aren’t going quite right in your life you expect your parents or someone around to know what’s going on, don’t you? They know about everything else in your life, even though you try to keep some things secret, so why would they not know this big bad secret, right? That’s where I went wrong.
I acted ‘normal’ making sure to put on my fake smile every morning before I left my bedroom. I was waiting for everyone to see the “help me” in my smile, that I thought I was so clearly expressing. I expected the people around me to know what was going on, or to ask me hey what happened last night, are you okay? I was waiting for someone to put an end to it. The thing is how would anyone know something is wrong if you are expressing behaviour your regular self would. Even if you are sad sometimes or have an uncontrollable outburst most people would think you’re just experiencing ‘teenage hormones’ or its okay for people to be sad once in a while, they will get over it. You might express signs that to you would seem so obvious but are often ignored by others. This is why you must stand up and free yourself. I know this sounds challenging but don’t overthink, take a deep breath and roll with it as your life will change for the better (if I could do it, I know you sure can).
Through growth, understanding and reflection of my own experience I have created this safe space, one I dreamt of finding throughout my years of abuse. Throughout my teens I was an assertive, alert ‘forward thinker’ similar to many of you, but was trapped in fear. Under the impression no one would believe me, as he held a high position in society, being respected by my family and all of his peers. This impression was completely untrue!
So, if you are a parent reading this, a mandatory reporter, a friend or this is happening or has
happened to you, you must act, speak up and not be afraid as child abuse is not okay - speak out!
Meet The Board
Annie is co-founder of no more fake smiles with her mum, Tracey. Annie graduated Year 12 in 2018 with great results, despite having been through the final phase of a three-year criminal court case in the NSW justice system. Whilst Annie has continued her life as ‘normal’ as possible throughout her teenage years, she has not been spared from mental health issues. The concept of no more fake smiles was born with the support of her Legal Studies teacher and Annie’s passion to help other teenagers overcome similar trauma and mental health issues. Annie is undertaking a dual degree in Bachelor of Criminology & Justice and Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Tracey is co-founder of no more fake smiles with her daughter, Annie. A successful Sydney businesswoman, Tracey founded SME Bookkeepers Pty Ltd (formerly Jim’s Bookkeeping BHN) in 2010. Tracey now resides on the stunning Sunshine Coast with her four beautiful children. Following her firsthand experience of family trauma and the NSW criminal justice system, Tracey’s passion lies with helping families live through the trauma that her family has experienced and advocating for change in the criminal justice system. Tracey is undertaking a dual degree in Bachelor of Criminology & Justice and Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Katie has worked for several not-for-profit companies both in the children’s services sector and the community services sector. She is also Annie’s Godmother and Tracey’s cousin. In 2018 she supported Annie in the witness stand when she delivered her victim impact statement to the court and faced her abuser. Katie was honoured to have been asked to join the Board of no more fake smiles by Annie and looks forward to continuing to support her in this important and very much needed endeavour.