Queensland MP Melissa McMahon has shared an account of the sexual abuse she endured as child, as she advised the state parliament she would be taking a leave of absence.
McMahon, the Labor member for Macalister, said she was first raped at the age of five, when those responsible for her supervision after school “were derelict in their duty” and she was left in the care of a group of teenagers.
“I still vividly remember the first, the second time this occurred to me, but mercifully after that it is a blur,” she said in the speech. “Most afternoons I was shopped around the neighbourhood to other teenagers and often exchanged for a can of soft drink.”
“I could not tell you how many perpetrators were involved. I could not even quantify how long it lasted for.”
McMahon then shared how at the age of nine, she “would look pure evil in the face for the first time”.
“Courtesy of our church, I came into the company and under the supervision of the last person on Earth who should ever be granted such a position — a child sex offender recently released for a particularly heinous child sex crime,” she said.
“They declined to notify my family, with whom he was placed again. My hours after school became a personal hell.
“I cannot quite put into words the things that happened to me or what I was made to do.”
McMahon said she has been haunted by the sexual abuse in her childhood for her entire life, and that she had recently hit rock bottom, suffering from debilitating anxiety.
“For me, exhaustion reached its limit and my facade cracked last year,” she said. “Things, feelings and memories that I had meticulously tucked away and locked in a box deep down kept threatening to come to the surface.”
“The panic and anxiety that came with that was, in many instances, quite debilitating. I felt like my skin was inside out; I felt raw and exposed.”
McMahon said emergency services were called to her home after she was found unresponsive by her children.
“My children had found me unresponsive. Paramedics and police were called to my home,” she said. “I was resuscitated, I was transported. For the unbearable stress that this placed on my family late that night, I am truly sorry.”
“For my son who had to call for help, I am also so very sorry that I put you in that position.”
McMahon is a former army major and police officer, and was first elected to the Queensland parliament in 2017.
She said she hopes to be able to help others by revealing publicly her truth and for now, is taking time away from parliament to work on her recovery.
“I will recover loudly, so others don’t die quietly,” she told parliament.
“I will talk about these things so maybe someone else won’t wait 40 years to talk. I have a voice in here and I will use it to give a voice to those who aren’t yet brave enough to.”
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family and domestic violence, you can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.
If you are in immediate danger, call 000.