Written by Shankar Puri
" It’s the sheer intensity of the story that causes my palms to feel hot and sweaty. "

Here’s the second part of the story

“Alcoholism has a massive impact on children in any case, and abuse teaches you not to trust authority,” Leonie continues to tell me. “You cannot trust anybody and it affects your whole life. I had my first boyfriend when I was fifteen and I was date raped. This guy was obsessed with me and I couldn’t get rid of him. I was basically, for two years, raped three times a week and I had no control over it. I didn’t trust my parents so I couldn’t go to them.”

In the corner of my eye, there’s a painting that I later learned is entitled “Out of the Storm, Into the Light.” Strokes of rust brown, crimson red and mould green combine in terrifying swirls. So much of Leonie’s pain immortalized by the hardening of clay and acrylic paints on canvas.

“Throughout my early life, I ended up with abusive men. Either psychologically abusive, or physically abusive. I was with a guy from when I was about 15 to 18 and he used to beat me, he tried to throttle me a few times, even tried to kill me. I eventually fell pregnant. Not by choice. My mum didn’t take it very well. My mum rejected me. The baby was born at 7 months, dead. I believe the child died because, I, at that point (being a child myself), hated the child. I cursed that child.”

The coffee in my cup has gone cold, but the heat emanating from my hands is enough to trick my mind into thinking that it’s still hot enough to drink. It’s the sheer intensity of the story that causes my palms to feel hot and sweaty. Leonie continues at a pace that leaves me no time to come to terms with her thinking that she was to blame for the death of her stillborn.