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Authors: Deborah Kay

Tags: #incest, #child abuse, #sexual abuse, #Australian memoir


BOOK: Sawdust
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Glass House Books


Deborah Kay has three adult children and three grandchildren, and has made it a lifelong goal to be vigilant over their safety. Although she grew up in a quiet, rural setting in Central Queensland, she has travelled widely through Australia and overseas, including living in Malaysia for three years, which has broadened her appreciation of different cultures. Currently Deborah works with small children as a teacher aide in Ipswich. Having now told her story in print, Deborah is keen to talk publicly on child sex abuse and do what she can to impact positively, and highlight the issue. As she puts it: ‘I am no longer silent... I now have the freedom to speak out for the sanctity of childhood’.

Barry Levy is a prize-winning journalist, including the Australian Human Rights Award for Journalism – for a multiple series of stories on child sex abuse, domestic violence and homelessness; the Anning Barton Memorial Award for Outstanding Journalism (Central Queensland) – for a series on child sex abuse (incest-rape); and a Walkley Awards Queensland State finalist – for a series on homelessness. Levy’s works of fiction include:
The Terrorist
, the story of what happens when you drop an Arab Muslim student into a Western Jewish home;
Shades of Exodus
, a portrait of migrants, particularly South Africans, who have come to Australia;
As If!
a realistic depiction of life on the streets for Australian kids; and
Burning Bright
, a story of young love, hate and child abuse.

Glass House Books



…when the dust has settled

Deborah Kay

Barry Levy

Glass House Books


Glass House Books

an imprint of IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

Treetop Studio • 9 Kuhler Court

Carindale, Queensland, Australia 4152

[email protected]

First published by IP in 2013

© Deborah Kay, Barry Levy, 2013

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the
prior written permission of the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

Printed in 12 pt Cochin on 14 pt Myriad Pro.

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry

Author: Kay, Deborah, author.

Title: Sawdust : ...when the dust has settled / Deborah Kay, Barry Levy.

ISBN: 9781922120380 (ebk.)

Notes: Includes bibliographical references.

Subjects: Child sexual abuse.

Other Authors/Contributors:

Levy, Barry, author.

Dewey Number: 362.76

Also by Barry Levy from IP

As If!

Shades of Exodus

The Terrorist

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all.

– Emily Dickinson, American poet [1830 – 1886]

I have loved and been loved, not always in the healthiest of ways. I may have seemed splintered at times, even though I’m not quite as polished as I’d like, this sapling has matured and is in no way warped, worn-out or gone to sawdust. Those pockets of sunlight eventually shine through… trust me.

– Deborah Kay


Writing this book has been emotive and intense at times and once again I found the need for counselling.
The adult and mother in me found reliving this journey far more difficult than the child who lived it.

My three children, you inspire me to be a better person, along with my grandchildren, who give my life meaning and joy. You all love me and I love you. I’m grateful to my “real” family for their support and belief in me, which has enabled me to go ahead with this book without judgement.

My closest friends for their unwavering support through the years, in particular, Kent the most honest man I’ve ever met, and Shaz, so kind and compassionate, whom I have relied on over and over. Frank and Nat… thank you for everything my darlings. I have been fortunate to have crossed paths with many positive people over the years and each of you knows when you impacted on me and that you continue to do so.

My “book” family – Barry, you have been incredibly kind and uplifting throughout this process. This book would not have been possible without you. Lauren, your editing has been invaluable and your sensitivity to my feelings is very much appreciated. Thanks to David and IP for believing in this worthwhile cause and being a publisher with a conscience.

Aside from being readable, there is nothing I would like more than for this book to be empowering to others. It is a saga, my saga, that in my humble opinion and deepest hope is worth sharing with the world.

Names and places, other than major cities in Queensland, have been changed to protect the innocent, especially those that are not ready to face the past or simply were unaware of it and my story did not impact on them.

Thank you all. I’m indeed very blessed and am so humbled by your unwavering love, support and friendship.

– Deborah Kay


I was born into a hard-working, timber-cutting family in 1962. My
father, Dan Gallagher had to marry my mother, Julie, because she was pregnant. He told us many years later he “had to get married” as her mum, our Nana, was hitting him over the head with a frying pan and he felt he had no choice. My mother was a stay-at-home mum in those days and already had her hands full with my seventeen-month-old brother, Jim. My conception wasn’t planned either, just like my sister, Marge who arrived fifteen months after me, and then my little brother, Sam, thirteen months after that. Mum was overloaded I would say, without help from anyone. So she also became punch happy with us kids.

Life was a struggle on many levels for them. Dad found it difficult to cover costs and it was hard putting food on the table, pay mounting bills, and keep a roof over our heads. The more children they had the harder life became. There were, I suppose as was to be expected, many heated and at times psychological stoushes in those early days. It wasn’t until later that the arguments became more physical.

I know the age I was when Dad’s abuse began because I clearly remember my brother Sam coming home from the hospital... It wasn’t long after that we moved to another house and the abuse started then, when I was three going on four; at any rate, that’s my earliest recollection of it.

At first it was only looking and touching but it progressed to far worse, until at fifteen, I couldn’t stand it any longer and would have been quite happy when Dad said he could choke me and no one would know. It was difficult enough when Mum would pack all of us up and make a run from Dad over the years, but she always came back to him within a couple of weeks and it would start all over again.

The worst time was when Mum decided to leave Dad, when I was twelve going on thirteen, and only took my sister Marge with her, leaving Jim, Sam and me behind. But again she managed to return after a few months, when things weren’t working so well with her new fella.

Having said that, Dad would gladly give the shirt off his back, give his last twenty quid to others, and make sure Mum stretched the family meal to help a struggling nobody off the street. He abhorred violence to other peoples’ children, and if he saw them being hurt in any way, would become extremely angry with those parents, sometimes even stepping in to help. He just couldn’t see it in himself.

I saw a way to escape all this when Chris came into my life just before I was sixteen… Life has been an amazing ride to get to where I am now. I feel so blessed in so many ways and so glad Dad decided not to kill me as he suggested that night on our way back home from Grandma’s...

BOOK: Sawdust
5.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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