A high profile television journalist has opened up on the horror sexual abuse she suffered as a child for almost a decade by a ‘man my family trusted’.
Zarisha Bradley, who is a crime reporter for 9News in Western Australia, wrote that the man was ‘a child rapist and master manipulator, he fooled everyone’.
She wrote about her horrific experience in the hope that it one day becomes easier for survivors to take down their abusers in Australian courts.
Ms Bradley said she didn’t remember the first time she was sexually assaulted.
‘From as old as I can remember, I was repeatedly sexually abused by a monster who married into my family,’ she wrote.
The man was so close to her parents that he was there when she took her first steps and was at every family Christmas, bringing lollies and chocolates for the children.
Television journalist Zarisha Bradley (pictured) has opened up on the horror sexual abuse she suffered as a child for almost a decade by a ‘man my family trusted’
Zarisha Bradley (pictured when she was a child) wrote that the man was ‘a child rapist and master manipulator, he fooled everyone’
‘Underneath the family-man facade, he was a child predator,’ she wrote on 9News.
Ms Bradley explained the man committed the sickening acts against her for almost a decade during her childhood in Queensland.
Her abuser threatened her not to tell anyone, forcing Ms Bradley to keep the cruel secret hidden from her family.
Ms Bradley said she had a terrible fear of getting into trouble.
But she finally did tell someone – her mum, when she was in her final year of high school in the tiny Queensland town of Gin Gin, 370km north-west of Brisbane.
It was a day she will never forget. Nor will she ever forget the pain of watching her mum break down in front of her.
Ms Bradley said she will never forget how her mum blamed herself, but that no one was responsible for these crimes, except the perpetrator.
She thought the worst was over now that she had told her mother, but nothing could have prepared her for what followed.
Her mum took her to Bundaberg Police Station, where she was interviewed by detectives for almost two hours.
She was also terrified about telling her dad, knowing he would want to hurt the man who hurt his daughter and who lived just 1km away.
The police needed Ms Bradley to tell them every detail detail she could recall about every time she was assaulted by the man, including what clothes she was wearing on each day.
Though it dredged up memories she had long buried deep down, she now understands why the police had to do that to build a case against her abuser.
But she said however hard speaking up is, getting a conviction in court is even tougher.
A detective asked if she would be willing to confront the abuser in a recorded phone call to try to get a confession.
It terrified her, but she found the strength to do it because she was the eldest of four sisters and knew she had to do it for them.
Ms Bradley sat alone in a room in Gin Gin Police Station, shaking uncontrollably, while her mum and high school chaplain waited outside.
The man had no idea she had told her family or gone to the police.
With tears streaming down her face she asked him why he did it.
With no idea he was being recorded, he said he wanted to put it behind him, but if it got out he would move away.
He also said he knew what happened was wrong.
The detectives needed Ms Bradley (pictured in the police station) to tell them every detail detail she could recall about every time she was assaulted by the man
He kept apologising, saying he regretted it happened and that his wife would be ‘devastated’ if she found out.
Ms Bradley was in floods of tears at the end of the call, but a police officer told her how brave she was and said she’d probably never have to see him again.
But she did see him the very next day after school in the IGA shop where she worked. He didn’t say a word, instead just stared at her from the other side of the deli counter.
She walked into the cold room freezer and burst into tears.
But he was arrested and charged with offences including rape (digital), indecent treatment of a child and maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child with a circumstance of aggravation.
Despite the seriousness of the charges, he immediately got bail.
The man’s wife phoned Ms Bradley the following morning and pleaded with her to drop the charges in exchange for money.
She had thought the woman would immediately leave her husband when she found out what he had done.
Eventually the wife did leave him and Ms Bradley forgave her.
But the man denied everything, forcing her through the further trauma of a jury trial.
He lied to the court and refused to take any accountability for the pain and suffering he had caused her and her family and she was cross-examined on the witness stand by his defence lawyer.
She said the aggressive questioning was like reliving the nightmare again.
But the jury saw through his lies and found him guilty on every charge. He was sentenced to five-and-a-half years jail in 2016.
His appeal failed, with the judge saying her recorded phone call was a powerful piece of evidence.
Though her name was suppressed because she was a minor, the case was reported in graphic detail in the local newspaper.
People in the town of just over 1,000 figured out who the stories were about.
Ms Bradley said she felt shame and embarrassment and never wants, as a journalist, to make a victim feel the way she did reading those articles.
She said that despite everything she went through to bring the perpetrator to justice, she considers herself one of the lucky ones, pointing out that about 87 per cent of sexual assault cases go unreported in Australia.
Ms Bradley (pictured) said she felt ‘shame and embarrassment’ and never wants, as a journalist, to make a victim feel the way she did reading the articles about her case
Of those reported cases, only one in 10 results in a conviction. She is among the 1.5 per cent of Australians who get to see their abuser go to jail.
Ms Bradley then named her abuser. ‘His name is Charlie Faulkner. While serving his sentence, I have been told that he suffered a stroke, leaving him using a wheelchair.’
She thanked Queensland Police and Detective Senior Constable Hayley Self who ‘was such a powerful female role model for me as a scared little girl and helped take back the control stolen from me’.
The national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service number is 1800 737 732.
Post source: The List