Between the ages of 8 and 13, I was sexually abused by a family member. It happened many times and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I had all this guilt.

As a result, when I was 11, I got into metal music, and my parents didn’t like that at all. They were conservative Catholics, and they didn’t get why I was acting up and dressed in all black, liking the screaming music. But I was angry and wanted an outlet for it, and Metallica’s albums really helped!

It was also the time of the civil war in Lebanon. I have traumatic memories of my Dad taking his guns and leaving, and us not knowing if he would be coming back. And of Mum being outside on the balcony one day and a bomb dropping, and shrapnel going everywhere, and Mum almost dying. We always had shrapnel all over the window and door frames, and inside the house. There was no point in putting up glass window panels because they would just be destroyed every couple of weeks, so we had plastic instead. And we often had to run down to the shelters at two in the morning. It was so dark there, and sometimes we would be there for days. You couldn’t even light a candle because of the diesel.

When Israel started attacking Lebanon, I was a bit older, so that left a bigger impact on me. They had the big flashy jet planes, the F16s, the fighter jets, which were terrorizing! For example, you could see them bombing a fire station 5 minutes up the road.

Finally, when I was 20, my Dad decided that he wanted his children to have a better future. At that time, there was a lot of conflict – instability, a corrupt government, not enough amenities, and not enough social security, so he applied to come to Australia as a skilled migrant.

By then, I was already studying at uni, I had a boyfriend, and I was also in a metal band, so it was hard for me to leave and I hated my parents for it in the beginning. But now I wake up and the first thing I think is that I have to thank my Dad for bringing us over. It has opened up so many opportunities for my siblings and myself.

I found a job in a bank, starting off as a bank teller, and working my way up to Business Bank Manager. But working in a bank wasn’t me, and once I got my citizenship, I decided to step back to part time so I could do a Bachelor of Medical Science as preparation for a medical degree. I’d always admired the first responders in the civil war, and the thought of being a doctor was something that had stayed with me.

The war left me with bad PTSD. I used to have night terrors and insomnia because of that, and my Dad is the same as well. I’m now taking medication which helps with the anxiety, and I have also found that marijuana helps me to sleep. Last year, I told my parents about being sexually abused, and they were very supportive.

It was a real moment of clarity for them, as they finally understood why we didn’t have a proper relationship, and why I have always been depressed and anxious. Since then, I’ve started speaking out about it, and I realise that a lot of my friends have been abused as well. I think it’s important to speak out, so people can understand how often this happens, and how many people are affected by it.

Arrived 2004

I need your help! Can you offer your support to New Humans of Australia on an ongoing basis? For as little as $1 a month, you can become a patron and get all stories direct to your inbox. Or become a strong supporter for only $10 per month and get a free copy of the amazing book! Whatever you choose, it all adds up and helps me to do my work. Thank you to all my patrons, supporting the arts and supporting social change! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

Photographer: Anne Casey

#migrant #Lebanon #Australia #inspiration #storiesnotstereotypes