Natasha – surviving abuse and finding her voice
Story by Madeleine Rojahn
Whether transmitted on paper or on air, the impacts of Natasha Lahey’s words are far reaching.
When Natasha was a little girl, she had three dreams: to buy a house when she was 21, to have her name in the newspaper and to write a book. The last of these was fulfilled four years ago when she wrote her autobiographical book, Nobody’s Child, which recounts child abuse she experienced during her upbringing.
It was after meeting with a trauma psychologist that she knew what her book would be about. Then aged 37, it was the first time in her life her experiences had been validated. For the first time, she allowed herself to be accepted as a victim, a survivor, of child abuse.
“When it first came out it was within the first six months that I had a 21 year-old contact me. She was a victim of rape, and she told me that she didn’t believe that she was worthy of seeking help, but reading my book gave her the strength to go and seek help,” recalls Natasha.
“That’s the kind of thing that I did it for – that’s amazing. If I’ve helped one person then it’s all well and good. If I help more, it’s even better.”
But Natasha believes she is one of the lucky ones who is able to talk about her abuse.
“Child abuse, yes it’s being spoken about more now, but I don’t think people really understand a whole lot about it. And especially about the effects afterwards. Like, as soon as it stops, it doesn’t stop for the victim. It’s with us forever. And not many people can talk about it. For some people it’s just like crime, prostitution, and drugs… because they feel so bad about themselves,” she says.
Today, Natasha continues using her story to raise awareness about child abuse, for three years she has shared it through the Hobart Human Library as a human ‘book’; and in doing so, she is emboldened, and others are called to rise.
“Kids, when they’re aware then they can tell other people … they can recognise something or see something and then try to have a conversation. I like talking to kids hoping that it will affect them like that or stop something,” she says.
Particularly, the Hobart Human Library has provided an avenue for Natasha to help others without reliving her own trauma.
“I’ve been a victim, and I’ve come through as a survivor. And that’s what I want to do now, help people. I always wanted to help victims of abuse. The Hobart Human Library, it’s given me another opportunity to still help those kids.”
“When you’re telling your story, it gives people an understanding that you’re a real person. It’s more personal and I think as a listener, you can take everything in. Reading books is great, but actually sitting with somebody and listening to who they are and listening to them tell their story… it’s pretty powerful.”
“I think I’m really lucky that I’m able to talk about it. Life is a journey, and it’s a really amazing journey.”
Natasha can be contacted on Facebook.
Watch a video interview with Natasha at A1 TV Entertainment.
Find out more about the Hobart Human Library.