After years of silence, a brave woman tells her story from within the Neerkol orphanage.
After years of silence, a brave woman tells her story from within the Neerkol orphanage. Choreograph

NO MERCY: Woman suffers years of abuse inside orphanage

AFTER years of silence, nightmares and post-traumatic stress a woman from the Whitsunday region will stand up and talk publicly about the abuse she suffered at the Sisters of Mercy-run Neerkol orphanage.

The woman said her abuse at the orphanage started when she was 14 years old.

But, her story starts 11 years earlier in September 1948, when she says her mother abandoned her and her four siblings on a pool table at the business run by their father.

Struggling to care for the five children, her father put them into care at Neerkoll and "unknowingly" signed forms placing his children in the care of the state.

"This enabl(ed) the nuns to have complete control of our lives," she said.

Life at the orphanage was cruel, the siblings were separated and did not know each other growing up.

"We just had to do what we were told and if we didn't, we got a hiding," she said.

Even after leaving the orphanage at 17 the woman was still considered a state ward.

"I was put in hospital for three weeks and because I was a state ward, the doctor decided to give me shock treatment without my permission," she said.

Speaking at a Remembrance Day event today held to acknowledge the experiences of institutional childhood abuse survivors, the woman will share the story of how listening to testimony at the Royal Commission brought her memories pouring back.

"I have been financially compensated but the money will never take away the hurt," she said.

"Until recently I had not been about to share my experiences, (but) after the Royal Commission met in Rockhampton for the Neerkol kids, everything became clear.

"When (a woman) got on the stand to tell her story, I got every agitated."

As the emotions bubbled up, the woman said she was taken to a quiet room.

"The floodgates opened," she said.

"Everything came out about my sexual abuse as well as physical and mental."

Despite the pain and struggle she had experienced, the woman said she wanted to share her story

"I am looking forward, not looking back. I am going downstream not upstream."

Queensland Child Protection Week focuses attention on the issues of child abuse and neglect. It runs until September 7.