Dulcie never knew her biological parents after she was adopted by a farming family in the mid-1940s.
‘I was an adopted child, and my father and mother were very wealthy and wanted nothing but private education for me.’ Although her parents were not practising Anglicans, they sent her to a Church of England boarding school in northern Queensland to give her a good education.
It was common at the time for a high ranking member of the Anglican clergy to attend the end of year speech night at the school. The morning after one speech night, when Dulcie was 13 years old, in the late 1950s, she was asked by Sister Batiste to check the storeroom and ensure it was locked. As Dulcie was checking the storeroom she felt a sharp pain across her face and neck before she passed out. She briefly came to and saw the shoes and gown of the high ranking clergyman.
‘I remember that vividly … I must’ve gone back to sleep or something and I woke up bleeding ... I gathered my uniform … and my finger was laid open with barbed wire. He put barbed wire over me and pulled me back onto the ground. I remember the thud. Woke up and he’d taken the barbed wire, there’s the barb, three prongs … under my neck.’
Dulcie ran bleeding to Sister Batiste, who attended to her wounds. Dulcie’s parents were already at the school to collect her for her end-of-term trip home.
‘Everything then sort of came and went. I remember Mum screaming and Dad saying “Calm down”. He said “Sister, can we just see our daughter? We just want to see our daughter” … And Dad said “Look I think we should call the doctor”. And obviously my Dad’s thoughts were, “We’ll get her medical help first and then it’s the Church’s responsibility anyway to call the constabulary”. It’s not my father’s, because you’re on their private property. Sister Batiste failed. Never saw a cop.’
Dulcie was taken to the doctor and her injuries treated. Her father wanted to involve the police but was dissuaded by Sister Batiste. ‘I was an adopted child. You are entrusted to these people as a child for them to rear. They entrusted you to this school under the auspices of the Church of England …
‘I was a child and he was a predator. He was an animal. You know we had a stallion and a bull on our farm ... If that stallion had hurt a mare, well, Dad would have shot it.’
As it was a small community, word had reached her brother’s boarding school about what had happened. Rather than being sympathetic, his friends ostracised Dulcie and ridiculed her for being raped. ‘Dirty, filthy. No one wants a girl like that. Not back in those days, not back when you’re a country farmer’s daughter, not when you’ve had private school education.’
Dulcie returned to the school the following term but could not cope and finished her schooling elsewhere. When she was 18 she became reclusive and ‘went off the rails’.
‘I didn’t sleep with men or anything like that, that was the last thing. I just didn’t want to do anything, just worked around the farm. I stayed on the farm. I didn’t want to go anywhere, do anything, nothing … Anyway I thought, “I’ve gotta get out of here”.
So I went to Sydney … Found myself a place … Settled in, got a job. Met a homosexual, married him. He wasn’t interested in me, was he, as a woman. You’ve got someone to look after you, someone to care for you. Care for you very well too, thank you very much. Nothing wrong with the man. And after seven years … we talked about it and then we divorced.’
Following her divorce, Dulcie spent several years working overseas before returning back to Australia. Because she wanted to have children, she married a second time and disclosed the abuse to her husband. Dulcie sought help from a fertility specialist and gave birth to two children, requiring caesarean sections both times due to internal complications caused by the rape.
In recent years Dulcie has contacted the Church of England and discovered the clergyman who abused her has since died. She has discussed the matter with other high ranking officials within the Church who have admitted the clergyman in question ‘had sexual issues’. Dulcie received no answer when she asked what was to be done about it and to date has been unsuccessful in pursuing compensation.
‘They said he’s dead. I said, “Can you tell me where he is? I want to go and pee on it”. I wanted to shit on it actually … I cannot believe a person held such a statuary position within the realms of the Church of the England Church could be such an arsehole.
‘I’ve been fighting this by myself in Queensland. No one listened to you, you’re just nothing … I want compensation, so help me God I do.’
As a mother, Dulcie was very protective of her children. ‘I was a very tough mother. They were never out of my sight … I never trusted anyone.’ Dulcie’s husband has died but she has a good relationship with her children and grandchildren. Although she was originally baptised Anglican she has since left the Church and ‘got re-baptised into another religion, Uniting’. She continues to attend church, read the Bible and pray every day.
‘Growing up I did feel worthless. You do feel worthless, even now. It’s just something that stays with you. It grows with you. As you grow, it grows.’