Braveheart ambassador: Who are you protecting?


I am blessed with two beautiful girls who I adore with all my being. I feel it a monumental and essential role as their mother to protect them for all their life. It makes me feel vulnerable and scared, and hopeful that I can give them the childhood that I didn’t have.

This year I have been asked to come on board as an ambassador for White Balloon Day, to raise awareness for children who have been affected by child sexual abuse, just as I was when I was young. Who R U protecting is a national campaign that simply asks who you will protect, and for me it’s my beautiful girls, with all my heart and strength.

You too can show your support by sharing a selfie, along with writing on who you’re protecting {you could use the Little Moments App to add the text, or online}. Or you can pop over to the Bravehearts website and donate.

I’ve shared my story before but I wanted to share it today in hopes that it will allow people to know that sadly this does happen. It happened back when I was young, and still happens today. One in five children will experience abuse before they turn 18. That’s a scary number. It’s not a fun topic, and yes it most likely will make you feel uncomfortable and sad, but if we can all do our bit to create awareness and stop these horrible acts happening, then it’s a giant step in the right direction.

My story

“Bob’s your uncle.”

I don’t like that phrase. I cringe when I hear it. It sends a shiver right down my spine.

Bob was my uncle. Bob changed my life forever. Bob stole my childhood.

From the age of four years I was sexually abused, and it continued on for many years. At a time when I should have been carefree and engrossed in all things Barbie, I was consumed with fear, anxiety and unnecessary guilt.

For many years the memories were crystal clear, and I thought about it constantly. Eventually the years eased the pain, and faded the memories.

When I was little we would stay at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. Sometimes the whole family would stay, sometimes I would go alone. Every night I would go to sleep in one place, only to wake up in the dark of night in the arms of my uncle.

Each morning I would wake, and I’d feel an overwhelming wave of nausea and guilt. I felt like it was my own fault. I would run to the bathroom and wash my tiny four year old hands, in an attempt to wash the whole night down the drain. Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy.

I remember waking one morning, after a night of abuse, and being so glad that the morning had come and the night was finally over. My uncle still slept soundly, so I crept out of the bedroom and washed my little four year old hands, washing him off me. I sat down to breakfast with my mum and my aunt, and I just wanted to scream, “Save me!”. But then the tug-0f-war of thoughts continued, ‘I hope they don’t know what happened.’ In my head I was the naughty girl, just as he had drummed into my head. I ate my toast, and stayed quiet.

Having two daughters of my own and seeing how innocent and simplistic the thoughts of most four year olds are, it’s so hard to believe that I was thinking such thoughts, and dealing with so much beyond my short little life.

We learned about Stranger Danger in kindergarten. Policemen and firefighters came in to our classroom to teach us about safety and being brave. They told us that if anyone ever touched us we should tell an adult. Inside I was screaming out to them to help me. I felt like it was finally my time to be free. I didn’t tell anyone though. I just sat there, filled with sadness.

Bob had instilled a fear in me. He told me it was all my fault, I couldn’t tell anyone or bad things would happen. So I didn’t. I kept it to myself.

Months and months passed. One afternoon, whilst playing with my sister and friends, we were talking about sexual abuse. I piped up that it was happening to me. My older sister was in disbelief. She was so angered, not at me, but at the situation. Even from the youngest age she’s felt it her duty to protect me, and I guess at 7 years of age, she felt she failed.

She promised me my secret was safe with her. She told me she wouldn’t get me into trouble.

That night it all came undone. My sister told my parents. At first I was upset and scared. Would I be in trouble? What bad things were going to happen?

I wasn’t in trouble. I didn’t do anything wrong. My mum assured me of that. I was still frightened though.

My Mum came into me that night and kissed my tear soaked face as I lay on the top bunk. I was okay. I would be okay. I was finally safe. I was finally free.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t free from the memories. The years following were the most difficult.

Trying to erase the images from my head turned out to be harder than I could have imagined, or hoped. The abuse tainted many areas of my life. Trust was a big one, especially with males.

I am here now though. I am okay. I am triumphant. I am a survivor. This is my journey, and it lead me to here. And I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.


41 thoughts on “Braveheart ambassador: Who are you protecting?”

  1. Oh my goodness I can’t fathom how incredibly scary that must have been for you. It’s so much for a small child, my heart breaks for young Chantelle 🙁 and I just want to give her a hug. But I can tell you’re a survivor. Sadly I’ve done a lot of work with Bravehearts in my journalist capacity, some things you hear are just too much to bear. Great cause and you have my support! I will protect my three precious angels… x

    • Oh gosh. Some things are really hard to hear. Even hearing the stories from the girls at Rafiki Mwema are hard. I have to tell Sarah to censor them because it’s really tough to hear. xx

  2. It’s so courageous of you to share your story Chantelle and heartbreakingly sad that this happens to any child ever. It’s great to know that you’re using your experience as a catalyst for supporting others. x

  3. Thank you for sharing your story ; my cousin A had an uncle B (mine too) like your uncle. I think he was too scared of my Dad (his brother) to abuse us.
    You are an amazing ,lady to be their ambassador.

  4. Chantelle I just want to say that this photo of you and your girls is just gorgeous and I am glad that you are now doing full on are a beautiful woman ! …and you have gorgeous daughters 🙂

  5. I had no idea you are a surviver. This story is horrific 🙁 four years old…

    I was raped at 16 and spent many years in and out of a voluntary psychiatric hospital and I would say 80% of the patients in there were abused as a child. It ruins peoples lives. I don’t think my memory faded like yours, a dr once told me I couldn’t remember because I was subconsciously blocking it out cos it was painful. I’m a survivor too, it barely affects me 10 years on and for that I am very lucky… I’ve never shared my story but felt safe to do so on FMS. Thank you xx

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is such a horrible and traumatic experience. It is my worst fear for my daughters but hopefully as we continue talking about it and raising awareness will mean less occurences.

  7. Oh wow, beyond sad for you and others with this story. I am in tears reading and sad doesn’t even quite cut it. I have an 18month old daughter and it makes me want to wrap her up forever with me….of course you can’t do that. But you want to. I can’t imagine what you went through, your family went through, though it goes to show you never know what is going on with people or has gone on in their lives.
    So glad you’ve given me this reminder and opened my eyes…

    • I think we have to let go a little {I found it really hard at first to let her go on playdates etc} and also trust our gut instinct. I think if we’re just really aware… that’s important. xx

  8. What a brave brave woman sharing your story like this. What a beautiful example to set for your daughters. You have so much to be proud of.

  9. I was molested when I was a child: by a cousin and later by a stranger. I blocked everything until I had my first boyfriend, then one day everything came back, everything!! It was awful, I cried a lot. It affects every aspect of my life: it’s hard for me to trust someone, I don’t even like to be close to people, it’s hard for me to be in crowded places. This is the first time I share this, my family doesn’t know, they just think I’m weird and antisocial. It’s hard sometimes. Thanks for sharing your story

  10. I love you, brave heart. Is it weird that I hoped you’d be asked to do this, to share this story again. So many people missed this glimpse into your personal history and sharing it is more helpful than you can ever know.

    How do I know that? Because it helped me come to terms with my own abuse with a counsellor, it triggered something and I finally saw it for what it was. If it’s not talked about, it’s internalised. Thank you for creating a dialogue that I (and probably many others) didn’t realise we needed to have xx

  11. Chantelle thank you for sharing your story ,you are such a brave woman,no child should have to endure being molested at the young age of 4 it is truly disgusting and makes me sad and angry at the same time,I am so glad you told your sister and that something was done to stop the abuse.I wish I could cuddle your 4 year old self and keep her safe Xx

  12. Congratulations on your ambassadorship for White Balloon Day and huge hugs and love from one Braveheart to another. I shared my story here when you first wrote about your story. I understand why you felt like you did and how it impacted on your life. I will be protecting my grandsons (boys are at risk too) just like I protected my children with all that I have.

  13. I’m so sad to hear your story. It’s imbelievable to listen every victim could feel guilty instead of the real monster. Hope you feel better and made this story a strengh in your life.

  14. Your girls are very lucky to have a brave and strong woman as their mother. It is a wonderful gift that you can give to your daughters, and I’m sure they will forever cherish having such a special person as their mum.

  15. Oh Chantelle, I had no idea you had such an experience. I am weeping. As the mother of a four year old girl, I can’t believe you were forced to ensure that. Someone very close to me was sexually abused in a horrific way, and it haunts him every day. His childhood too was taken away from him. Sexual abuse – any abuse is so incredibly unfair. So good you are speaking out for this important cause. xx

  16. I applaud your bravery in sharing Chantelle. You are doing great things in getting the message out there, and you are a survivor! Hug those girls extra tight every night. I know I do when I think about all the things that have happened to me that I want to protect my chickens from!

  17. You’re not only a survivor, you’re a thriver. You have taken all that pain and heartache and used it to propel you in a way that helps other people. Not just those that have also suffered at the hands of someone else, but those who haven’t… so they can keep work with you to keep other people safe. That takes strength, determination and a whole lot of love. xx

  18. Your story brought tears to my eyes and made me want to reach out and hug the vulnerable 4 year old girl that you were. You are very brave sharing your story and if it helps just one more person to have the courage to speak up about something similar that’s happened to them, then sharing this has been invaluable. I have two little boys and would fight tigers for them, so I understand your fierce protection of your girls. You’ve come so far and everything you’ve achieved is quite an inspiration. Love your blog, keep up the brilliant work lovely lady x

  19. Its so sad that in so many cases its a family member or a family friend. I too have experienced sexual abuse, but from a family friend and I didn’t tell anyone for years because I was too scared his wife would no longer be friends with my mum. I’ve still never told mum the full story (her reaction was less than favourable so I didn’t bother going into detail with her).

  20. Chantelle – you are so brave to share your story. I’m sure after all these years, it’s still not easy to talk about, but the more awareness we bring to this issue – the less children that will suffer at the hands of these horrid individuals.
    You will make an absolutely wonderful ambassador for BRAVEHEARTS. Bless your soul.

  21. Sexual abuse of children is obviously something that has always disgusted me beyond words. Now I have a daughter of my own and I can better see the innocence of a child and the trust and love they have for their family. Now I have her I find it so much harder to read stories about children being abused and I have so much admiration for survivors such as yourself.

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