‘I could have killed him’: Brave survivor reveals sex abuse
HE WAS meant to be her protector, a man Suzanne Rex could look up to and rely on.
Instead, he sexually abused her, ruined her life, her family relationships, and won't face any time behind bars for the abhorrent and "evil" behaviour.
The former North Queensland woman was so scarred that she suppressed every memory of the abuse, only for it to creep back up on her 40 years later.
But, the now 65-year-old is stepping out from the shadows, telling her story in the hope other victims will come forward, and to fight for justice.
Suzanne Rex was 14-years-old when a man she knew sexually abused her on the top of Castle Hill.
She knew it was going to happen. It had happened before. Since she was a toddler. But she was too scared to fight back.
"I could have killed him that night," Mrs Rex told the Townsville Bulletin from her sister's Kirwan backyard.
"If I had a weapon, I could have killed him."
Mrs Rex had endured 12 years of abuse from this man, who cannot be named to protect his other victims.
It started when she was little, and after moving to Queensland from Melbourne, it happened almost every day.
The final act of abuse happened when she was a teenager, and would be the only criminal charge he faced.
She was living in Bowen, and had travelled to Townsville for a medical appointment with her mum the day of the abuse in 1968.
They stayed in the man's house in town, and he offered her a drive to the top of the city's iconic landmark, where he would sexually abuse her.
"I had to go. He abused me straight away, I knew he would.
"I hated and loathed him so much."
The man, now 72-years-old, pleaded guilty to the attack, and was recently sentenced in Bowen Magistrates Court to a 12-month suspended jail term.
He would serve just three days.
Mrs Rex said the horrific incident was the catalyst of a life she lived in a lie.
Not long after the abuse, her family moved to Bundaberg, and all her memories of that night on Castle Hill vanished.
Mrs Rex buried her trauma deep in the dark corners of her mind, and they were completely lost for 40 years.
"I know it's hard to believe, but it's true.
"But thank god it happened, otherwise I would have never been able to hold a relationship."
After starting her new life, Mrs Rex met her future husband, Lindsay, three years later when she was 17-years-old.
They fell in love, married the week before her 19th birthday and had four children.
"My real, happy life began when I met Lindsay.
"I have no memories of anything good in my life before then."
The family moved around for a few years, following Lindsay's work, and fragments of Mrs Rex's old life followed as well.
"I used to have some strange behaviours that didn't add up.
"I'd bring my dog with me into the shower… and I made my husband put a barrel bolt on our bedroom door.
"I didn't know why, at the time."
She now knows these were all places her attacker abused her.
Several years later, in approximately 2000, Mrs Rex was driving when parts of her trauma bubbled up. She was 46 year old.
"Bits and pieces started flashing through my mind.
"I was hysterical by the time I got home … how I got home, I don't know."
After more than 40 years, the trauma Mrs Rex had endured was now front of mind.
She confided in her eldest brother and husband, who convinced Mrs Rex that she needed to tell her mother.
Her heartbreaking abuse fell on deaf ears.
"She said 'I don't believe you', and I said 'get out of my house and don't come back'.
"I was a child (back then), frightened, I thought my own mother doesn't believe me… I didn't know what to do.
"I ordered my mother away and told her I didn't want to see her again.
"She's never been able to face anything bad in her life… it just gets pushed away… and that's what she did with me."
Mrs Rex fell away from the rest of her family as well, and remained out of touch with them until she bravely came forward to police in 2018.
She travelled from Perth to look the man in the eye, and read out in court just how badly he'd made her suffer.
But his damage was done. Mrs Rex's mother developed dementia by the time the case made it to court, leaving their relationship irreparable.
"He is evil… he really is an evil man.
"I believe they are born that way."
The man was sentenced to 12 months' jail, wholly suspended, after serving just three days in the watch house before his sentence on March 16.
While it was not what she hoped for, Mrs Rex said the conclusion of the court matter closed a door to her old life, and opened a door to her new life.
She was now back in touch with her family, and determined to fight for change.
She was passionate about spreading sexual assault awareness, and wanted parents to listen and look out for their children.
"Back then, it was so hush hush. You kept it quiet, you didn't let anyone know it was happening in your family."
"But parents should listen, and women should have the courage to come forward and do something.
"It's too important."
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as 'I could have killed him': Brave survivor speaks on child sex abuse