Growing up, my Mum and my Mimma were two of my favourite people. I loved everything about them and wanted to be just like them. They were so strong and confident and always had a good time! I knew I was fortunate to have them from a very young age! Unfortunately, around 2011/ beginning of 2012, my Mimma, my Mum's Mum and my grandma, was diagnosed with Multiple myeloma. In January 2015, my Mum became her full-time carer; at this time, my Mum was also a wife, Mum of 4, and a full-time business owner. My Mum willingly devoted herself to caring for her mother and made sure each day was as good as it could be.
My Mimma tragically passed away just 60 years old in March of 2015, and our whole family was shattered. My heart was broken, and I felt empty. I missed her every day.
A few months later, in October 2015, I referred to the abuse I had suffered at the hands of my Stepfather in front of my parents.
I was getting in trouble from my Mum and Stepdad as I had snuck out to a festival with my friends and returned home with a hickey on my neck. While I was getting in trouble, my Stepdad called me a slut. I saw red and couldn't believe what he was saying. I blurted out, "well, it's nothing more than you've ever done to me, Dad" - it was like time stopped.
The following day I went on grade 9 camp, and when I returned home, he was gone. My Mum had removed him from the house. She asked me to elaborate on what I meant/ was talking about. I was too embarrassed and ashamed to say it, so I wrote some notes in a book. My Mum believed and supported me and later we went to the police. She left her husband of 10 years, and we moved from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast while still mourning her mother's loss. I cannot even imagine the pain and heartache my Mum was going through at this time. She is the strongest person I know.
My Mum is the reason I am here today. Without her, I don't know where I would be. Throughout our journey since disclosure, it became apparent that the support mum gave me was not the norm. The extent she would go to throughout the criminal proceedings was quite rare. Together we got through the horrific and long three-year court process, with my Stepdad being convicted of 17 years imprisonment 11 non-parole.
My Mum has never quit on me or our family, no matter how tough times were for her. Throughout everything, the court process, high school and the tough start of my healing journey, she was there every step of the way, holding my hand and always having my back. I knew how much my Mum loved me, and that's what always kept me here and trying to get better.
My Mum is the most amazing woman. At times she may not have felt empowered, but her being okay always empowered me to be okay, and together we became stronger and began to heal. She empowered me, and I'm sure me becoming happy and better empowered her. We didn't want anyone else to go through what we had gone through, so we created No More Fake Smiles together. A place where you can truly be yourself and get the resources you need to support you, your friend or child in a time of need. A place I dreamt of finding throughout my years of abuse. A place where you will be seen, heard, and validated.
My Mum, Tracey, passionately and willingly devotes herself to No More Fake Smiles. One of the services No More Fake Smiles offers is the support and education to empower young women to make an informed choice of how they handle their own disclosure and path forward as every person and every case is unique. However, no person should have to walk that path alone.
If you would like to join the No More Fake Smiles community and help empower these young women, please donate through this link.
Love Annie xx