Moment I confronted paedophile stepdad
Rachael* paints a horrifying picture of a young life tainted by childhood sexual assault, where she had no escape from continual abuse, as her predatory stepfather played out his depraved fantasies in the family home.
The sexual energy Donald Malloy conjured in Rachael's childhood home made her uneasy from a young age.
She recalls feeling uncomfortable from as young as eight years old.
Malloy, who worked as a woodworker and ran market stalls in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen, and sold his wares on an online Etsy store, had everybody fooled.
"All of my side of the family, everyone said, 'I wouldn't have guessed that about him at all'," Rachael said.
"And then my answer was always, 'Well yeah …. he always made sure no one was home'."
Rachael said her brother was often out with friends and her mother would be working late when her stepfather would set upon her. She described years of grooming before the assaults began to take place. She was raped by her stepfather when she was 11.
During incidents of abuse, she described going into "freeze mode", feeling paralysed with terror of her abuser.
"I'm frozen," Rachael remembers thinking. "I should be moving."
Rachael described to news.com.au how her stepfather imbued his sick sexuality into many facets of her childhood, alienating her and taking away her ability to enjoy regular elements of growing up so she was felt strange and lonely.
"I was a little girl. An innocent little girl," she said. "The whole world was in front of me."
AFTER THE RAPE, TEEN RACHAEL TRIES TO RECOVER
She was haunted by memories, which she said gave her a continual feeling of "disgust".
"(He) was in the next room," she said, "And all the time I was just thinking, why can't he just leave my life?"
As her young body grew and developed, she started to feel repulsed in her own skin. She described locking herself in the bathroom and digging her nails into her skin until she drew blood.
She said she completely disconnected from the experience of puberty, and still refuses to discuss it with her girlfriends.
"I still believe the first time I bled was because of what happened to me," she said.
Desperate, she started to look for different ways to escape, starting with marijuana.
"It took away the pain, the disgust, the thoughts," she said.
At first she said, the escapism it offered her "was great". But as her drug use escalated it became impossible for her to balance the escapism, her burdensome thoughts, the flashbacks and her schoolwork.
At age 14, disturbed by the intrusive memories of the rape and indecency enacted on her by her stepfather, Rachel could no longer cope with the reality of what she had been forced to endure.
Looking for relief from the grinding of her own painful memories, she turned to teenage vices, like dope smoking and binge drinking in the Coffs Harbour sand dunes, where teen parties would rage into the night.
MALLOY WATCHES PORNOGRAPHY IN THE LIVING ROOM
After raping his step-daughter at age 11, Malloy was not done filling the family home with depraved sexual behaviour.
Rachael's sneaking out to party became more and more regular, and when she would return home late at night, her stepfather would often be in the loungeroom watching pornography. She found it exhausting and disturbing, saying she "couldn't go to sleep after" witnessing the sex scenes in her living space.
Rachael said she would go to school the next morning thinking about what she'd seen in the living room, totally unable to concentrate on her schoolwork.
She said as she started to become an adult the realisation of what had happened to her started to become more acute and her ability to cope started to strain and buckle. By the time she had reached year 10, she says, "it clicked. Age had started coming into it."
"I was just off smoking pot, I wasn't (able) to come home."
At about age 17, Rachael was walking on the beach with her mum and told her: "Don did things to me."
Her mother found it difficult to cope with. Rachael said she and her mother are extremely close. She describes their relationship as powerful and said her mum "moved mountains" for her and was very supportive of her.
Her mum eventually left Malloy when Rachel 18 years old, in 2007.
By this point in her life Rachael had left home and hit rock bottom, relying on drugs and feeling "broken". Upon hearing her mum had finally left her paedophile stepdad, Rachael described a strange relief in the form of feeling "nothing", after so much time of feeling too much.
Her reliance on drugs almost immediately dissipated.
At 18 years old, drug free, with her abuser exiting her family, Rachael fell pregnant with her first child and began the long process of healing.
CONFRONTING HER STEPFATHER ABOUT THE ABUSE
Rachael described calling her former stepfather to fill him in on the state of her life. She had a stable partner, was raising two children and was working as a real estate agent.
She told Malloy all this before saying, "You really f**ked me up."
"And he just started repeating 'I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry'," she said.
At this point Rachael said she didn't have a plan, "I didn't know what to say next."
PROSECUTING HER ATTACKER
When Rachael decided to approach the police about the assaults enacted on her as a child, she was 25 years old. She described feeling overwhelmed, and going through a continual process of pushing the painful memories to the back of her mind, and then feeling them resurface.
At the time, Malloy was enjoying his freedom, and Rachael was still caged by the fear. She described having to avoid parts of the town because she lived in fear of seeing her ex-stepfather. She described seeing the offender around town "numerous times" and feeling like a little girl again.
"I (wanted) to run away again," she told news.com.au.
"I physically (felt) sick. One time I did physically vomit into a bin.
Rachael said it the harrowing ordeal of recalling all the details of the childhood abuse she endured took two years from when she made her initial statement to police.
Initially having a deep distrust of police, she never believed she would successfully prosecute her stepfather.
But Malloy pleaded guilty to the offence of sexual intercourse with a minor between the age of 10 and 16 years old and an act of indecency toward a child under 16 years.
He was sentenced to five years and six months in prison for his crimes. His non-parole period is three years, and he will be eligible for release in 2021.
TO FIND JUSTICE, RACHEL CALLED ON HER INNER STRENGTH
Rachael has undergone extensive therapy and counselling to help her deal with the sexual abuse she endured as a child at the hands of her stepfather. But when it came to getting the courage to go to the police and seek justice, she just says her inner strength "is just in me".
"I'm just a strong woman. And obviously he didn't count on that," she said.
"He didn't expect me to grow into a strong woman."
Rachael said the impacts of the abuse have been life long and far-reaching. She described feeling uneasy when she sees somebody rubbing their thumbs together or rubbing their forefingers "left to right over an object" as it reminds her of her stepfather's mannerisms.
She also feels uneasy around any large male with glasses and thinning hair who walks past her. In many ways to Rachael, her stepdad feels like a spectre, as she still feels haunted by anyone who vaguely resembles him.
Similarly, she feels upset when she hears things that others brush off or wouldn't notice, like the theme song from The Simpsons, or merchandise from the St George football team.
But despite all that Rachael suffers with, she has managed to overcome it and pursue justice almost 20 years after the initial crimes took place.
She said even though this has taken up the majority of her young life, she looks forward to moving on with the rest of her life.
Rachael is 29 years old and lives in Coffs Harbour with her four children.
She says paedophiles don't think about the children they hurt as grown ups.
* The victim's name has been changed at their request
- If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence or sexual assault, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).