REAL LIFE

‘My boyfriend abused my five-year-old as I slept’

This mum wishes she'd trusted her insticts
Posed my model. Getty Images.

A Queensland mum-of-two has spoken out after she found her boyfriend sexually abusing her five-year-old daughter.

Karen*, 35, met Shaun* on an online dating site where he described himself as a loving dad to his son Alex*, eight.

After introducing him to her own kids, Lucas*, eight, and Anna*, five, the five of them became a happy blended family unit.

‘We spent almost every weekend together, going for bush walks and picnics,’ said Karen.

Shaun was a doting boyfriend, showering Karen with chocolate and gifts.

Then four months into their relationship, Karen was bathing Anna one night when she noticed red marks between her legs and asked her what happened.

‘Shaun did something to me,’ replied her daughter.

But when pressed, her girl backtracked and said she’d fallen on her bed.

Horrified, Karen called Shaun and demanded to know the truth, but he insisted he’d never hurt her.

Although he sounded genuine, Karen decided to keep a close eye on Shaun when he was with her kids.

‘But when Shaun came to visit, Anna always seemed happy,’ said Karen.

But a few months later, Karen woke up one night to discover that Shaun wasn’t in her bed. Checking Anna’s room, she saw her daughter was missing too.

That’s when she made the discovery that will be etched in her mind forever more.

‘In a panic, I rushed to the front door and peered out,’ explains Karen.

‘Shaun was sitting on a chair in the carport with Anna kneeling in front if him. My little girl’s hands were tied behind her back and he was forcing her to perform oral sex on him,’ said Karen.

Screaming out in horror, she ran to rescue her girl, before taking her inside and locking Shaun out of the house.

She called the police while Shaun sat on the chair outside and waited.

‘I felt like I’d failed my duty,’ said Karen. ‘How could I have let this predator into our lives?’

While Karen calmed Anna, the police arrested Shaun.

During his trial at Brisbane District Court in May 2016, Karen learned the full extent of the abuse.

Before he’d been caught, he’d burnt Anna with a cigarette and raped her three times.

After pleading guilty to charges of rape, torture and possession of child pornography, Shaun was jailed for 10 years.

‘When I explained to Anna that he’d been locked away, it was like a weight had been lifted off my girl’s shoulders,’ said Karen

Karen’s sharing her story to warn other parents to be wary about people they meet online.

‘If you have any suspicions that all isn’t right, always trust your instincts,’ she said.

If this story has affected you in any way, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. The National Child Abuse Helpline is 1800 99 10 99 and is open Monday to Fiday, 9am to 5pm AEST.

*All names have been changed.

For more real-life stories, see issue 16 of that’s life! magazine – out now!

Issue 16 that's life!

Related stories