Abbey’s Project is a Discussion Paper written by Bravehearts that highlights the failings of the Family Law System. Published in June 2016, the Paper puts forward 30 recommendations, the first being that a Royal Commission is established to scrutinise the failed Family Law System.
Real stories of families who have been let down by the Family Law System informed Abbey’s Project, including the story of Abbey (pictured below) who tragically died by suicide after being allowed by the Courts to spend time with her father; a convicted child sex offender.
(Trigger warning: contains distressing content about child sexual assault)
“My teenage daughter committed suicide after the Family Law System allowed her father, a convicted child sex offender,access to her when she was just a child.
The Family Court System failed my little girl. And they failed me, a protective mother, who in my attempt to protect my children from contact with their abusive father, faced being dismissed as a ‘hysterical woman’ and a ‘vindictive wife’.
How can this happen?
The legal system, designed to protect vulnerable children, is instead allowing them access to convicted sex offenders and exposing them to further assaults.
The family law policy of wanting kids to have a “meaningful relationship with both parents” drove the decision making that would eventually lead to the death of my darling girl.
I can’t describe the pain of losing her – it’s been 3 years since she died. She was just 17 and such a loving and caring daughter and friend.
It makes me physically sick to imagine what she went through. In 2002, Abbey’s father was charged with the sexual assault of her 8-year-old best friend and sent to jail for a pathetic two years. The abuse occurred at regular sleepovers.
I’m desperate to fight for children and parents who’ve been grossly let down by the dysfunction of the Family Court System. The Court restricts children from doctor and counselling visits during legal proceedings, discounts their word against a parent’s, views reports of sexual assault as vindictive and favours the most financially stable parent. It’s shameful and dangerous.
My darling daughter had her whole life ahead of her, but by supporting Bravehearts’ call for this Royal Commission, we can bring about change for other kids.”
Below is a poem written by Abbey before her death.
I am broken
I was only a girl
hiding under my sheets
you took away all my innocence
left me dead inside
You left me alone
to work it all out by myself
confused and lost I walked
through the tunnels of pain
You left me alone
after those nights
my silent tears never heard
my roar inside left to burn out
You stole me from my cave
abused my soul and took my trust
ditched it in a hole
and left me in the cold
I’m broken now
torn and ripped in pieces
I fight to repair the damage
but your breath remains on my chest