I am an Aboriginal woman in her thirties, raised by parents who were Christians in name only. I recall attending a local church with my Nana as a small child but other than that, I knew no-one religious. 

I was first exposed to lesbianism as a young child around aged nine. During a sleepover at a schoolfriend’s house, and not knowing that her parents were a lesbian couple, I was subjected to their intimate behaviour in front of me. I didn’t know how to process what I saw, and felt extremely uncomfortable. My schoolfriend later suggested that we copy what her mother and female partner had been doing. I immediately picked up a pair of scissors and suggested we cut off each other’s hair, which we did. I later got badly scolded for doing this, and yet all I was doing was protecting myself from the sexualised advances of my fellow schoolfriend.

Some years later, whilst a teenager, I was sexually abused by a close family member. This continued over four years and was unquestionably one of the darkest moments of my life. Entering into adulthood became pure hell for me as I was desperate to find resolution around my sexual trauma. I fell into deep depression and had no idea of my identity. I just wanted to disappear.

I was 25 years old when I first disclosed my childhood abuse to my mother shortly before her death from cancer. If I hadn’t had a strong bond with my mum, then I don’t know who else I would have been able to tell. Even today, I may never have found freedom from this burning, crippling secret.

I was so desperate for my voice to be heard. I needed compassion and tender counsel, not further rejection as I questioned my sexuality and identity, or the political and police interference now enabled by legislation in several regions of Australia. My family lives in the ACT and legislation already passed there which criminalises therapy and prayer relating to sexuality and gender means I can never return home to live alongside my family. This is cruel, degrading, and a deepening of previous abuse only this time by politicians to whom we each pay taxes to better our society.

My abuse grossly affected my sexuality. After my mother’s death, I got engaged to several women, the last being for three and a half years which was a deeply abusive relationship. This led me to become addicted to hardcore drugs.

When this lesbian relationship eventually ended, I found Islam which led me into more abusive relationships, only this time with several men, one of whomI actually married. I was still same-sex attracted but again trapped in another strain of co-dependency, this time with behaviours which further degraded me.

The suicide rate among Aboriginal youth screams of the destructive pain so many precious young people experience. I therefore often ask myself: what pathways are open today to an Aboriginal child where she or he can disclose abuse, question identity and sexual attraction, and be helped to make their own healthy choices? Every avenue to prayer, therapy and counsel which is proven to work, even if only for a minority, must be left open. If an Aboriginal child or adult senses that legislation might affect therapy or prayer, those wounded will stay away from even beginning recovery. Their ability to reach out and to speak up, especially about abuse, might never happen. 

However, politicians still queue up to condemn therapy and prayer linked to sexuality and gender. This will have a long-term effect of degrading women and children. We will be the ones most assaulted by new legislation which rips dignity away from girls and women as, for example, men who self-identify as trans-women compete in female sport, and “transitioned” male sex offenders get placed into women-only prisons.

By ignoring bodily differences, ministers also reject common sense. They threaten every female toilet, shower block, women’s shelter and women’s healthcare when they choose to ignore the blatantly evident biological and chromosomal differences between males and females. 

I have felt further despair and retraumatised by anti-therapy and anti-prayer legislation rising up across our nation. But turning my life to Jesus and finding a home within the Christian community are bringing me hope.

I am fortunate that the Christian community has been helping me to face my past, to invite Jesus into my pain so as to find newness of life. He is teaching me not to be afraid of anything.

Our nation needs less mental illness, fewer addictions and suicides, and a decrease in self-harming. It needs laws which respect God and permit people to grow up, to become resilient, and to make decisions for themselves.

It is regrettable that the historic support being reported today in mainstream media hurt a few people. But present support, which is non-coercive and is proven to be widely beneficial to hundreds of fellow Australians, is saving my life and the lives of many others. We have no idea how many more lives it has already saved and might just save in the future.

I am grateful that my life and my story have been welcomed into the Christian community. Knowing Jesus is undoubtedly helping me to find greater security in my identity and dignity.