STRENGTH: Tracey Morris and Annie Jones are sharing their experience. Photo Patrick Woods.
STRENGTH: Tracey Morris and Annie Jones are sharing their experience. Photo Patrick Woods.

‘I thought he loved me': Girl survives years of dad's abuse

THE man Annie Jones once trusted above all stole the single thing she will never get back.

Her innocence.

An inner war tore shreds off the teenager for two years, leaving her battling with a decision no 15-year-old should ever have to make.

"I wanted to tell people but I didn't think anyone would believe me … and I didn't want to break our family apart," she said.

Yet, feeling like her skin would burst, Annie's reality became too much one night. An argument over a hickey was the catalyst that altered her young life forever.

"I was sitting in my mum and stepdad's room," she said.

"He was getting mad at me, and I was just so angry. It was just years of hate.

"He turned around and said 'you're nothing but a slut'.

"I just said 'it's nothing more than what you've ever done to me, dad'."

At the hands of her stepfather, Annie was sexually abused for two years. It began at just 13.

"He started abusing me but I didn't know it was abuse because I thought he loved me and cared about me.

"It happened so frequently, at least twice a week.

"Every time it happened, I just froze. I wish I could have turned around and punched him, but I just went into shock.

"It sounds horrible, but I thought I would never escape him. I just thought that would be my future."

Annie Jones. Photo Patrick Woods.
Annie Jones. Photo Patrick Woods.

Annie's admission left those closest to her "absolutely dumbfounded". A man who seemed "perfect" turned out to be her own monster.

Words escaped Tracey Morris to know what her daughter had endured.

"It was absolutely devastating because it happened right under my nose, but then to find out it was actually done by my husband … it was a double whammy," she said.

"It dumbfounded everybody. There was not one person that wasn't surprised."

Yet above all, Tracey knew the words Annie spoke were nothing but the truth.

"I knew she wasn't making anything up," she said.

"He has never actually denied it.

"I couldn't believe it. I told him the next morning to leave."

What followed was a "tormenting" three-year criminal process which saw Annie's abuser receive 17 years in jail.

"It was horrible," Annie said.

"Because the criminal justice system is 'innocent until proven guilty', everyone would say to me 'what are you talking about, he's a great guy'.

"I thought I was lying because no one was listening."

Despite years of "horror", Tracey said the final judgment bent her at the knees.

"On the criminal side of things, you really have to push and fight to get what you want," she said.

"We were told not to expect anything more than five years.

"That day was the first time I walked out of the courtroom and just sunk to the floor.

"I just thought 'we've done it'."

Now 19, Annie is more than just a child sex abuse victim. She is a fighter.

"In May I was doing statistical research on child abuse in Australia and I realised I was a statistic.

"I'm one of them, but I'm one of thousands.

"That moment was a big turning point for me and gave me so much drive."

Annie, along with Tracey and family member Katie, has established her own support network for child sex abuse survivors, No More Fake Smiles.

The website is a place for those affected by abuse to access resources and to ensure children feel safe to speak out and find their smile once again.

Tracey said the Buderim residents were "a voice for other people".

"We don't want to live the rest of our lives thinking of what went wrong," she said.

"This came from Annie being strong enough and wanting to make something positive out of what happened."

As brave as ever, Annie is giving a voice to all those who are not heard.

"I'm doing this for so many other people, not just myself," she said.

"This is going to make a difference."

No More Fake Smiles will officially launch on Thursday. Head to www.nomorefakesmiles.com.au.



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