Deborah Kay teams up with award-winning social issues journalist Barry Levy to provide a courageous and compassionate account of what happened to her, and how she avoided being warped by her experiences, allowing, as she puts it, pockets of sunlight to shine through her.

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Winner, IP Rolling Picks 2013, Best Creative Non-Fiction.

Deborah Kay teams up with award-winning social issues journalist Barry Levy to provide a courageous and compassionate account of what happened to her, and how she avoided being warped by her experiences, allowing, as she puts it, pockets of sunlight to shine through her.

Sexual abuse of children is all too common in society today. Media reports focus on the crime and its consequences without offering constructive advice on how victims can come to terms with their past and transcend it.

This is a book not only to read and reflect on but also to share.

Barry Levy

Barry Levy is a former South African journalist who moved with his Australian wife and two children to Australia in 1984 because of their abhorrence of apartheid. In 2004 Levy had his first fiction novel published – Burning Bright, a story of young love, hate and child abuse, which is also available in Italian. Levy has been a winner of the Australian Human Rights Award for Journalism—for a multiple series of stories on child sex abuse, domestic violence and homelessness; a winner of the Anning Barton Memorial Award for Outstanding Journalism (Central Queensland)—for a series of stories on child sex abuse (incest-rape), and a Walkley Awards Queensland State finalist—for his series on homelessness.


In the cold wind there is no choice but for Gordon and me to spend a night with the kids out here, in the stroking but uncaring breeze, while Mick and Mum cool off, sort through another lost Saturday night. Everything so dark and groggy.

We seek them out, our homies, our bros, under the bridge, by the river in the Ipswich dark, and then as if of one large mind, like a single huge brain cell, hungry and in search of things to do we go seeking through the suburbs looking to fill our bellies and have some good, honest to God fun. Scouring the neighbourhood for targets.

And now we are here, all of us kids, in the blackness of someone else’s home, afraid to switch on the lights, but warm and comfortable in a way we can’t be in our own artificially lit homes. Seeing for the thousandth time that we have eyes that can see in the dark. Yes, it is true. It is the way we grew up. We did not need chandeliers or bed lights or even torches. We were brought up as marsupials. Our lives were the night. We bathed in it, drank in it, shat in it, ate in it. And it gives us a paradoxical kind of freedom. A kind of control. Superiority over our superiors. They say that you need light to dispel darkness. But the reality, we have found, is the other way around. Freedom lies in darkness, under covers, far from the seeing eye, from the light of day. Darkness dispels reality, the imprisonment that day imposes, that keeps you scattered, skulking, out of shit, out of the way. Darkness, as me and Gordon and the rest have found and see now, gives you a bond, like a huge connecting shadow, like right now in this house, in this rich, middle class home, no this palace, this palace filled with security and fermented spirits and chandeliers and books—books that we will never read, books that we can tear out of their shelves and covers and throw to the ground, books that we can rip into shreds without giving it a second thought, books that we can destroy to teach our teachers, our parents, city aldermen, state authorities, government handlers, supervisors, yes, all the supervisors of the world, imposed on us, who think we are just hoons, scum, dirty gravel of the earth.

Yes, we are all of those things: dirty, brown, thick gravel; we have been told so many times, even in the mess of our own grey-brown homes, and yet it is like a song, a requiem, a top of the pops blockbuster, a hip-hop street poem that fires our blood, that lights our minds with neon dreams, this drinking rich people’s grog, slinging their books and plates and vases across shiny lounge floors, ripping with pen-knives and bread knives into soft, tempting couches that you want to sleep on, so desperately want to rest your head and sleep on, that you want to spend your entire life on, that you want to die on. Yes, it is like a heavy metal, twisted steel guitar that sings inside you, that makes you feel kind of full, alive. Worth something at last. That makes you dance an Irish fling with Gordon, your brother, who has saved you yet again.

And I am singing, I think even with him hearing me, ‘Thank you, buddy. Thank you, bro.’

And he is swinging me round him, like when we were kids, except our own lounge was never quite big enough, right in the thick of this lusciousness, this impromptu Saturday night party that began with the promise of a family night of pizza and videos, and ends with this—me letting him pour a drink of something that cuts like razors down my shaking throat, seeing the curtains in front of me coming down, falling, tumbling on our heads. Ripped loose like falling screws from the walls, eight-foot high, at least, feeling that pure soft satin finish flouncing round my head, the kids in this new covered warmth embracing me in laughter, soft then loud, bowel biting, angry. But close, comforting.

Me, Gordon, Jamie, Kelly, clutching onto one another, hugging like children in movies of Christmas morning, a family, a happy family beneath these drapes. We, a family sheltering in that light that only darkness can bring, that special uninhibited intimacy, the dark glue that casts us together. Brings joy to the world. Lights up trees. And streets. And other people’s rooms.

Deborah Kay

Deborah Kay has three adult children and three grandchildren, and has made it a lifelong goal to be vigilant over their safety. Although she grew up in a quiet rural setting in Central Queensland, she has travelled widely through Australia and overseas, including living in Malaysia for three years, which has broadened her appreciation of different cultures.

Currently Deborah works with children as a teacher aide in Ipswich. Having now told her story in print, Deborah is keen to talk publicly on child sex abuse and do what she can to impact positively and highlight the issue.

As she puts it: "I am no longer silent ... I now have the freedom to speak out for the sanctity of childhood."

ISBN : 9781922120380
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Ebook, PB


ePub, mobi(kindle), PB, pdf

Customer Reviews

1-5 of 12 reviews

  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “I have never read an account of childhood abuse that so perfectly renders the child’s emotional confusion and the ingenious psychic manoeuvres required to remain sane. Here is a narrative that resists the impulse to simplify complexity, choosing instead to depict both tragedy and triumph in heartbreaking detail.
    I admire the life; I admire the book. I am deeply moved.”
    – Richard Hoffman, author of Half the House: A Memoir

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “This brave and honest book allows us to see inside the mind of a child who had to work out the realities of life for herself, without the guidance and support of loving parents. Worse than no love, she endured a warped love that no-one should have to endure. Her raw and honest account is remarkable. I can’t find the words to describe how brave I believe the author is, nor how amazed I am that she has turned her experience into a life lesson for all of us. Her strength of spirit is truly inspirational. … A mind blowing insight into sexual abuse through the eyes of a child. This is a book that every parent and young adult should read.”
    – Megan Scott

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “Compelling story. Beautifully written. Well done!”
    – Anthony Shrock

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “This book is an excellent read – such a tough and terrible subject told with such optimism and hope. It helped me to understand how a young child normalises this situation. Deborah Kay is an amazing woman and so brave to tell her story. Her own children should be very proud of her. Well done!”
    – Judy White

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “I found this story riveting (I nearly missed my station this morning). It is engrossing… By the end, I was so glad that she continued her story, right up to the present.”
    – Angelique Oltvolgyi

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “It was a beautiful, sad and inspiring book … well done. I have a lump in my throat, tears and so much pride for you.”
    – Nat

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “With all that has happened to you, you are still so positive. I hope I can recognize the light within all the darkness of my mind. You bring me hope.
    I finished your book and it was a wonderful read. I couldn’t put it down, and then I had to force myself to put it down for a few days. Really had my emotions going crazy! You really made me want more.
    Thank you for being so brave to share your story. You are an inspiration; I hope to be as content with myself as you are.”
    – Tracey

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “This book is an essential read for all counsellors, psychologists and other professionals working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It provides a detailed and confronting account of the lived experience of relentless sexual abuse and the complex myriad of emotions, thoughts, perceptions and relationships that unfold through this violation. It sharply captures the challenges this poses to development and the triumph of resilience.”
    – Ian Shochet, Professor of Clinical Psychology
    Queensland University of Technology

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “It’s a courageous memoir on such an important, yet taboo issue as Child Sexual Abuse. I went to the launch on Saturday and read the book, cover to cover the next day.
    Even when some pages made my stomach turn and had tears running down my face, I couldn’t put it down.
    Please support Deborah in her quest to raise awareness about the issue, and the fact that perpetrators are sometimes much closer than we think possible, by reading her story and sharing it with others.”
    – Irina Morrison, Writer

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “What a fantastic read – I struggled to put it down! I was shocked, horrified, astounded and at times deeply saddened at what my dear friend Deb had to endure from such a young age by the very people that were supposed to love and protect her unconditionally, from an already cruel world.
    What a fighter, what a survivor she is! Typifies Deb’s amazingly positive attitude towards life and love.
    I loved the book – it was extremely readable.”
    – Candy Coombes

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “I was on an incredible roller coaster of emotions. How someone can go through so much and survive is one thing, but to be the incredible person they are is even more incredible. This book took me through some dark places but there was always light. I genuinely could not put it down and I am no big reader. I for one know this story will affect different people in different ways and it will also help those that have been is similar situations.”
    – Sharon

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “You are truly amazing for what you have been through and how you have come out of that black hole. I’m sure this book will help so many people in so many different ways. I can’t comprehend or understand what you went through and how you survived and how you kept in contact with your family. You have been through something that is possibly worse than hell. I would not have known that you endured anything at all as you are always so bright, bubbly, warm, caring and super happy. I hope that writing this book has helped you heal in some ways. You are amazing, Deb!”
    – Mel

    July 20, 2023

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