THIS man - whose name we have not used - shares his experiences of domestic and family violence:
I TOOK over care of my granddaughter on her fifth birthday. I drove down to Brisbane, we had a birthday party with her mother and then I drove home with her.
She really didn't know what was happening. She said later she thought she was going on a holiday.
But her mother never came back for her.
Her mother gave me a handwritten note addressed to Centrelink, saying I had "control" of her now. That seemed to work. They gave me a carer's pension.
Her mother was using drugs when my granddaughter was conceived.
Her mother used drugs all the time. Her drug habit was more important to her than looking after her daughter, even as a baby.
Before my granddaughter came into my care, her mother and father had gone to live on a bush block and were arrested by the police for dealing marijuana.
My daughter had no interest in caring for my granddaughter.
She would drop her off at day care and then go and do whatever it was she did.
I have another daughter who was caring for my granddaughter for some time.
But she was in an abusive relationship and didn't want to keep her. I was the only person left who could do it.
VIOLENCE AT HOME |
It wasn't easy for me.
I was a grandfather looking after a little girl and I did not have a partner so I was really a sole parent/grandparent.
There was no support system for me and I had no people of my own age who could help me; who could tell me what to do when my granddaughter was sick or look after her if I wanted a break. I didn't have a break and I was very lonely.
Eventually, my granddaughter went to preschool and she started forming friendships of her own.
I made friends with her friends' parents and I felt more like a proper parent instead of a pretend one.
My granddaughter had a lot of friends who would play at our house and I loved it. I thought I was doing a really good thing.
I would make pancakes for all the kids, getting them to help me out.
Her best friend often had sleepovers at our house.
That friend is still around, although things are a lot different now.
I was trying to be a mother and a father but I didn't realise I couldn't be either of these things. I was only a grandfather.
Even so, I tried to do my best for her. I took her to all sorts of extracurricular classes and even coached some classes for a time.
It was very difficult for me financially.
The carer's pension was very welcome, of course, but the cost of uniforms stretched the budget.
Her real parents were meant to pay maintenance but her father was on the dole and paid something like $30 a month, about enough to buy a Big Mac meal every week. Her mother had a verbal agreement to pay maintenance but she never did. Never.
For a while I had a small, part-time business.
It provided me about $150 a week and I could do that job when my granddaughter was at school.
It helped with the bills at the time, but I had to borrow money to set it up. When I sold the business its worth had depreciated so much I ended up losing money.
When my granddaughter was a little bit older I was offered a job making up training material and then doing the technical training.
Then, not long after, I was in a bad accident and was badly injured with a broken ankle and elbow.
When I was finally well enough to go back to work the job was no longer available to me.
I took my other daughter and my granddaughter to a festival.
My granddaughter was 14, and she went in to see a psychic who gave her advice.
That was okay with me, but, after that, she said she wanted to find her parents; she wanted to get stuck into them for not raising her.
She also wanted to tell me that she didn't want to live with me anymore and wanted to live with a proper family, one with a father and a mother and possibly some sisters and a brother.
I was flabbergasted and felt deeply hurt because I truly thought I was doing a good job in raising her.
I left the festival early and asked my other daughter to take my granddaughter home with her. I felt broken hearted.
As I was driving home I made up a poem describing the feelings I had when my granddaughter was growing up. My granddaughter didn't finish school.
She went to an out-of-school course but didn't seem to be progressing well. It turned out that she and her best friend had been sneaking off at lunch times to smoke pot at their friend's place.
She had a predisposition to drugs and she got hooked right from the start.
After two attempts at the course, she still hadn't passed. I couldn't afford for her to try a third time.
After a while, my mother came to live with us. She was in her nineties and couldn't look after herself any more.
She couldn't cook and was in terrible pain from lung cancer.
That didn't stop her smoking, though, and I hated having to go out to buy her cigarettes.
My mother and my granddaughter didn't like each other so, if I went out in the car, I could only take one or the other.
I cared for my mother for four years until she got too sick. She was vomiting uncontrollably the night before she was due to go into a nursing home.
Mum lasted for nine weeks in the nursing home before she died.
My granddaughter left home when she was in her teens and moved in with her boyfriend.
The relationship didn't last. They couldn't stay in any one place.
They came to stay with me but the boyfriend ended up losing his job. He couldn't pay rent so he went home and my granddaughter stayed with me.
Then there was a boom in labour in the town we lived in and I took in some boarders. They lived downstairs in my house.
My granddaughter was becoming increasingly angry.
I think she was using ice and not just marijuana.
She was becoming erratic and was physically violent.
There were some occasions when my granddaughter would get so out of control the boarders would come upstairs to try to keep the peace.
I was ashamed at being physically confronted by my granddaughter.
There were times I had to lock my door to prevent her assaulting me.
After the work stopped, and the boarders went away, she wanted to live downstairs. I let her. Then her boyfriend started coming back, sneaking in at all times of the night.
I am a light sleeper so I always heard him come in.
I confronted him one morning and that nearly provoked a fight so I backed off. I asked why they didn't find somewhere of their own to rent. Between them they could afford it.
The boyfriend said he didn't want to live with my granddaughter.
Well, why should he when he could come and go as he pleased, get his washing done, watch TV, and have his meals cooked for him, all for nothing!
I felt powerless. I wanted to protect my granddaughter and provide a home for her. I asked for police intervention but they said they couldn't act unless I got a repossession order from the court.
I went to the court. The magistrate advised me to give the matter more thought and adjourned the proceedings for a month.
On the day of the adjourned case I went downstairs to remind my granddaughter she had a meeting with her employment provider to which I had agreed to take her.
She said she wasn't going.
As an adult she could decide not to go. Okay, that was her choice.
Ten minutes later, I heard an almighty scream coming from her room. I thought she must be having a fight with her boyfriend so I went downstairs to break it up. When I went in she started screaming at me and then she punched me in the face.
She tried again but I stopped her and wrapped her up in my arms. I then left her to go to court.
On the day of the adjourned court case a different magistrate instructed the prosecuting police sergeant to talk to me and I decided to take out a domestic violence protection order against my granddaughter, instead of filing an assault charge.
A young policeman made out the application and served it to my granddaughter that afternoon.
I haven't heard from my granddaughter since that day. She has not tried to contact me.
My feelings now are a great sense of relief at no longer having the burden of caring for her, but there's also a huge pain in my heart for not being able to save her from herself.
One day my granddaughter will have a child of her own who she will need to take care of.
I love my granddaughter more than anything.
But those 15 years spent raising her were the loneliest of my life and I will never get them back.
*For 24-hour support in Queensland phone DVConnect on 1800 811 811, MensLine on 1800 600 636 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT on
1800 737 732
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