That bad ringlet perm. She looks like me or any of my friends in the 80’s. The gawky but sweet smile, the face that’s still growing and half kid, half woman. The awful, unflattering school uniform in easy-care polyester.

Jayne was a straight-A student in English at high school. A poet at 15, gifted.   We could have been friends, similar down to the “Y” we both placed in our names to make ourselves different.   I was also writing – really bad poetry and stories full of swear words.  Like Jayne, I only did well in English, but in one signifcant way we were different – because Jayne wrote about being sexually abused. That she felt lost and left. But this was NZ in the 1980’s – there was no mandatory reporting.

The first abandonment in Jayne’s life happened when she was 4.  Her father left. The second happened 2 years later, when her mother, unable to cope with her 3 young children and debts, gave Jayne up to an orphanage in Auckland.  Now under New Zealand state care, she was  next fostered with a family in South Auckland.  At some point she was sexually abused – it’s not clear when, where or who.
From her best friend:

“I think she (Jayne) understood why she couldn’t be with her mum…she loved her mum…(redacted)she wasn’t special to her foster family”.

Looking for a better place,  a safer place, Jayne asked to leave her foster family  and go to boarding school.  We also had this in common – I was sent to boarding school around the same age, to get away from my family.  But Jayne ran away.  Next she lived with her best friend & family.  Unfortunately this also didn’t last – they fell out over something trivial.  To Jayne it was another loss, another abandonment. By now it must have been what she expected. That’s dangerous, when you start developing expectations of how life is and stop believing it can be better.  But I get it.  You stop caring, after a while.  Your heart shuts down – it’s safer that way.  Open heart = people being able to hurt you.
She attempted suicide.
She had a baby at 17.   On some unconscious level,  Jayne was looking to fix the past by creating a new family with her boyfriend. But the relationship was unstable – SHE was unstable, the perfect reflection of her life experience – and the baby was taken to live with her boyfriend’s parents. More loss. More confirmation that she sucks. She can’t even be a mother. She can’t fix the past and she can’t find that attachment she needs to grow up.
At 17, she is a prostitute and is picked up one day by a client – they think – and murdered. Her body was recently discovered buried on a beach near Auckland. No one knows who killed her.  She was also to be a police witness in 2 trials.  When she goes missing, the police, with their typical lack of imagination blame it on her “high-risk lifestyle”.
I’m not surprised at all she walked the streets, had sex with strangers. That’s how she felt about herself – someone to be used, then left. May as well make money.
When are we as a culture are going to really “get” this, that if a child’s attachments are seriously interfered with and a child’s life is traumatic that child is going to end up a grieving, messed up adult. People who knew her describe a rebellious, difficult woman-child who couldn’t be told. That should be no surprise to anyone – authority figures had all let her down. Why should she believe anything anyone told her?
I don’t know that Jayne felt any of this, it’s just conjecture. I put myself into her shoes. Maybe that’s arrogant, and maybe I’m wrong, but it all seems so clear to me.
Why did her father leave her? What happened in his past?
Her mother couldn’t cope. Why? None of these things happen by accident.  They happen because people are damaged.  People can’t do better when they don’t know how.

RIP Jayne.

Your murder deserves to be solved.  The person who abused you as a child needs to face justice. But who is going to be held to account for your awful, fucked up childhood?

children brutalized in state care – New Zealand

UPDATE on her case: Jayne Furlong’s diary convicts rapist