It was like a bomb hit me when a women came up to me
at St. Josephs reunion in 1997 and told me of the times when I was punished. I had not thought about it - probably since it
happened - because after every punishment you spent all your time trying your
hardest to be good for the nuns. Trying so hard to polish the floor or whatever; not to talk; not to wet my bed - not to earn the punishment. But however hard you tried, the nuns found reasons why I needed to be punished
and they hit and boy they hurt.
I fmd it hard to think about it because to remember it
to re-live the fear and confusion - the unhappiness of being a child able only to hope
that if! earned the nun's favour,
I would become one of the children who the nuns cared
about; who had a life which was sure to end in Heaven. Instead of being the child the nuns' found me to be - who needed to be beaten for her mother's sin and because, although there was
little hope for it, that might help me to be worthy of love - eventually God's
The nuns said that the punishment, especially if I inflict
pain upon myself, brings you closer to God. So when they punished me I used to think about Jesus on the cross.
They used to read stories of the martyrs - they specially worshipped St. Peter Chanel, who was stabbed to death in the Pacific Islands.
We were told to be like him.
I have lived my whole life without much of God's love.
The nuns taught me that I was not worthy of it. God's love was for other better children. God did not want me or for me to
have love. The nuns did not want me, or for me to have love or happy thoughts, or family.
God took my beautiful son from me in a car crash in 1993
to punish me for making contact with my family - the nuns/God had decided I was not entitled to a family.
And if you ask me what, as a child, I thought that was
for, I can only say, because I deserved only punishment. I do not know what for - as a child I talked when I shouldn't have,
but usually I did not know what I was punished for, except for my own good; that I might change and become one of those who
God loves and who are able to get to Heaven.
The beatings were not my fault. I was not a bad child,
could not have been a child who deserved the punishment -
as a child I had not deserved those things. I believed the nuns were good; they
were doing God's work. I am still not sure, although I am angry about the beatings. I will explain how I still think I deserved
it; because God punished me in 1993 by taking my son. I do not know what I did wrong except that I must still be the bad person
the nuns had to thrash.
I always knew it was a childhood filled with pain and
confusion. I now realise the nuns who were good; were doing God's work, were also cruel, were vicious women, monsters.
I never thought that the things that I was afraid of
were caused by my childhood experiences.
What sticks in my mind about the nuns is how they always
told us that we were no good, all I heard every day was. "You'll never be any good, your mother never wanted you, you'll end
up in the gutter like her, no one will ever want you.
It is so hard to forget that - it is there all the time.
What the individual members of the two Orders did and
what the senior members of the Orders allowed, was a reign of terror and fear for the helpless children.
By that I mean that the children who had help - from a solo parent who couldn't care for them but who the nuns respected - were
not terrorised. The orphanage old girls who stick up for the Orders and its work are either ones who, although mistreated,
have remained in a relationship with the Church and the Orders, which suits them; or the ones who were well treated as children
because the nuns either liked them or recognised that there was someone else watching out for them.
The ones, like I was, who were totally at the mercy of
the nuns, it now seems like we were treated without mercy.
There were some of us who were unlucky enough to be singled
out as 'the chosen ones' of the priest, nuns; lay workers and the older girls of the two orders, who picked us out to sexually
abuse us. The sexual abuse has scarred me for life and no amount of counselling can cure me of the pain I feel, within.
The injuries inflicted on me, were severe physical beatings;
child labour; semi-starvation; cold and poor clothing; overwork; lack of education; emotional abuse; physical abuse; spiritual
abuse; sexual abuse; sadistic torture; pain; suffering from carers and those trusted with our care,
who we trusted - through no choice of our own, these
sadistic people who hid behind the image of being saintly people in the service of God.
Corporal punishment was common in both girls and boys
Catholic orphanages, the nuns in particular had exercise power over the girls
for the rest of our lives.
The Catholic orphanages were at the bottom of the ladder,
in the childcare system, catering for underprivileged and illegitimate children and the nuns purposes was to keep us at the
bottom of the ladder. The children from Catholic orphanages were society's undesirable children, to be kept out of sight and
in their place, with no rights like other children.
Because I was illegitimate I
was deemed only for domestic service and labouring jobs
As it was, I did "men's work in a little girls body"
expected to work from 5:30am to late at night, seven days a week. From when we were five we had to work on their farm, it
was hard heavy work, especially for us little ones and what was worse, was the fear of not knowing when you'd get a crack
across your head, ears, face and legs or back, from the nun walking behind you.
Some of us girls had beautiful wavy hair, the nuns hated
us and told us we were vain, I didn't know what vain meant. They would try to straighten our hair by wetting it and then pulling
on our hair, telling us that we were ugly,
I believed them and hated myself so much that all my
life I would not look at a mirror and I don't have one in our bathroom. I know now that I was not ugly as a child but I wish
I'd known then. It might have given me a bit of self-esteem.
I never really forgot the brutality, I can put it to
the back of my mind, but it comes back at me, especially the nightmares and head pain. Boy! are they bad, that I want to bang
my head against the wall. They won't go away. I've heard people say, "that was just the way things were in those days" and
I get very angry, Those nuns had very bad tempers and they never had to control their tempers. I don't know how they could
live with their consciences, with what they did to us and all of the abuse that they did.
What still makes me upset more than anything else, is
that they got away with it. I did nothing at all, All I wanted was some one to be kind to me. The part that gets me is why
were they beating us like this, because I was certainly not the only one that got whipped. You know I still wake up at night
thinking about it, trying to work out why. . . ?
The brutal beatings consisted of numerous punches with
her clenched fist to my face, she broke my nose five times and burst my ear drums. I never did see a Doctor about my nose
or my ears, the nuns just seemed to not care about how I felt, when I was in pain because it was them who had cause it.
I would fall to pieces at the very sight of the nuns
would pick on the girls
who did not have parents and we who were illegitimate,
we got the worst of the beatings, then I would get it
I wet my bed,
I wet my bed until I was ten and then off and on until
nineteen years old, I was beaten into pulp for it.
was the beating and the fear of the nuns is why I wet my bed. I was treated like I was unwanted, something to be hidden away
and to be ashamed of. I was so scared.
They would say you were telling lies, but you weren't,
you couldn't say that, if the nuns said you were a liar, then you were a liar. The nuns use to make me open my mouth and put
a cake of soap on my tongue, they then pushed my month shut and I had to keep it shut on the soap, my mouth would be foaming,
as well as me being so sick and kept
vomiting, they did not care what state I was in.
It was worse than the concentration camp for children.
Some of the girls committed suicide, some are in mental hospital,
some are homeless living on the streets; some are alcoholics and some are in and out of prison. The most difficult thing in
life is when you are put down so much as a child, you don't have any confidence, it really does hold you back.
I was terribly nervous, I felt that I was nuisance to everyone
I still am doubting myself, I don't have any confidence.
I think it is a kind of a fear, the same kind of fear
I had as a child growing up,
all those years ago.