How a child abuse survivor's email changed my life
AS A journalist, there are people you meet who stay with you forever. Some in a bad way, most for the best.
Others in a way which changes your whole outlook on things.
For me, it was a young woman who possesses the most incredible strength and resilience of anyone I've ever met, or am likely to, in the course of my career.
Three years ago, I stumbled into a District Court sentence of the most heinous nature.
A girl had been subjected to horrific abuse by her father who, mercifully, pleaded guilty to a raft of charges and was jailed.
The essence of the charges were sickening, and he rightfully deserved being dubbed a MONSTER in this very paper the next day.
As a young girl, she didn't know what she was enduring wasn't normal, that it wasn't happening to other girls and boys her age.
She had been brainwashed and conditioned to think it was just part of growing up.
It wasn't his offending which made the story; rather, the girl's strength.
Her victim impact statement told of the reprehensible abuse she'd suffered but it was her determination to have some good come from it that warranted the front page.
It wasn't glorifying her abuser, it was commending her.
She emailed me the next day, thanking me for the fact her "life story has been plastered across the front page of the newspaper".
"It was very emotional, confronting but empowering to read," she wrote.
"I truly believe in getting the social conversation about this topic happening and creating awareness on the issue, and I want to say thank you for playing a role in that."
That her abuser eventually paid for his crimes only came about through the girl being educated to the fact the abuse she'd survived wasn't normal.
It's National Child Protection Week which aims to protect children from all forms of abuse and harm.
Part of that week locally is the Child Safety Pantomime by Toowoomba police which every year educates children on what is, and isn't right, and what they can do about it.
The program has undoubtedly changed lives across our region.
This week continues the conversation the woman in courtroom five three years ago wanted to start, and it's one all of society needs to have.
Support is available:
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732
Bravehearts: 1800 272 831
eheadspace: 1800 650 890