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Mum’s nightmare as daughter reveals sexual abuse

Catherine Murray says her daughter has experienced the "worst crime you can put on a kid".

She was abused by her own father.

Now, the 45-year-old wants justice for her daughter but fears that moment may never come.

Her ex-partner remains on the run.

"My daughter was violated by her father and I want something done about it," she said.

Catherine fled her ex-husband, the father of her four children, in 2018 - after more than 20 years of horrendous violence.

She said, on the day of the escape, she was held down, strangled, gagged and threatened to be defecated on after a war of words escalated.

It happened in broad daylight in front of their youngest daughter.

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"When he couldn't (strangle me), he tried to suffocate me. He was just screaming the whole time 'go to sleep you f---ing b----'," Catherine said.

"If I hadn't have been able (to break free and) jump that fence, I believe I wouldn't even be here today. We left that day and we never went back."

The family was sent to a women's refuge on the Sunshine Coast, run by Sunny Kids.

Finally, they had escaped the beatings, abusive outbursts and being thrown out onto the street.

But the worst was yet to come.

It was during a school night earlier this year that Catherine's 11-year-old daughter, Georgia, finally revealed she had been molested by her own father.

Three times.

Catherine said her ex-husband had "kidnapped" the couple's three youngest children for two weeks about three years ago when the abuse happened.

She could barely put into words how she reacted when her daughter revealed her sexual abuse.

"That's something I'm still struggling with," she said.

"I know it happened, but I can't quite grasp the fact that a dad would do that to a daughter.

"Not once, not twice.

"He wasn't a father in any sense of the word."

Catherine sat down with the Daily as part of the HerStory campaign to share her experience with domestic violence and shine a light on what went on behind closed doors.

She said police did not conduct a welfare check due to no formal custody arrangement being in place, despite her requests.

She said if authorities had gone to the house, her children might have been brought home sooner and her daughter might not have been molested.

"I feel that the people put in power to help protect kids failed my kids miserably," she said.

Catherine and Georgia have made statements to police but Catherine says more needed to be done to find her ex-husband, who she believed was in NSW.

"I don't have any faith in the police or child services," she said.

"I'm feeling very let down by a system that's supposed to protect kids."

Sunshine Coast District Detective Inspector Dave Drinnen said police were working to find Catherine's ex-husband and would do everything in their power to bring the family justice.

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Catherine said she was often asked why she didn't leave earlier.

"If we disagreed with him, we'd be thrown out of the house," she said.

"To find somewhere to go with five people, we take up your loungeroom. We ended up sleeping in the car. I didn't want to burden people.

"It was because I thought we had no options that we would always go back."

As a young woman, Catherine was charmed by the "charismatic, funny" man she met in Brisbane in the 1990s.

But when she became pregnant with the couple's first child, "the real him came out".

"I just didn't see the signs. I wish I had," she said.

Speaking to the Daily through broken tears, Catherine said she hadn't forgiven herself for what her children had endured.

But after spending almost a year at the refuge and attending regular counselling sessions, Catherine has learnt to accept she wasn't to blame.

"(Domestic violence) makes you feel like you're worth nothing," she said.

"I felt I had to carry all this guilt. I had to learn that to be a better parent, I had to better myself.

"I'm starting to feel like the mum I should have been a long time ago for them."

Now as the family gets used to their new life, while keeping a constant eye over their shoulders, Catherine is fighting a new battle: getting her daughter justice.

"I'll never let anyone treat me like that again. I'm so much stronger than I ever thought I could be," she said.

If this story has affected you or if you or someone you know is unsafe at home, please call DVConnect on 1800 811 811.

*The names in this story have been changed in order to protect those involved.