Justice frees life for assault victim

A CENTRAL Queensland sexual assault victim has received justice more than eight years after her attack.

Yesterday the courageous 22-year-old spoke publicly for the first time about her ordeal, in a bid to tell other victims: "It is never too late to come forward and report it to police''.

On Friday, a 50-year-old man was found guilty by a District Court jury in Rockhampton of one count of indecent treatment of a child under 16 in his care.

He was sentenced to six months' jail.

April (not her real name) was 13 or 14 at the time of the offence, which constituted the rubbing of her breasts and vagina. It was committed by her mother's partner.

"I didn't understand at the time,'' April explained.

"I felt it (assault) was wrong but I didn't know it was an offence.

I wasn't taught about rape or molestation. My mother taught me nothing about it so I didn't know.''

April's relationship with her mother was not a good one. After she was abused, she did not tell anyone what had happened.

"I didn't have anoyone I could trust.''

At 15, April left home and spent time living on the streets. Her relationship with her mother and sister broke down completely, although she stayed in contact with her brother.

When she was 16 she was introduced by a relative to her now partner, and moved in with him.

At the time they were just friends.

The real scars of April's attack lived on long after the physical wounds had healed.

They were the ones which often kept her from trusting people, diminished her sense of safety and security, and ate away at her self esteem.

Mood swings were common.

It was four years later, during an emotional period, she confided in her partner.

"I'd bottled it up for many years,'' April explained.

"I just tried to put it out of my mind and pretend it never happened.'' Her partner convinced her to go to the police.

"The detective was really good,'' April said.

"It was a little bit hard to tell the story but I felt comfortable with her.''

April had to wait two years before taking to the witness stand at trial last week.

She said she hoped her story would be an inspiration to other victims.

"My advice would be to find someone you can trust. If you don't trust anyone then go to the JAB (Juvenile Aid Bureau).

"Parents should also be more supportive to their children and teach them about rape and molestation. I think they (children) should know about it and what to do.

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