Wembley mother inspires Bravehearts in memory of daughter

Gill Hamersley ran seven marathons in seven states in memory of her daughter, who took her own life after years of sexual abuse. Picture: Andrew Ritchie.
Gill Hamersley ran seven marathons in seven states in memory of her daughter, who took her own life after years of sexual abuse. Picture: Andrew Ritchie.

WEMBLEY mother Gill Hamersley is fighting to keep the memory of her daughter alive by ensuring no other child has to suffer in silence.

Ms Hamersley competed in Bravehearts 777 last week, tackling seven marathons in seven days in seven states to raise awareness and fundraise for victims of child sexual assault in memory of her daughter Abbey.

Abbey took her life in 2013 at age 17 after years of sexual assault at the hands of her attacker.

Ms Hamersley said she got involved with child safety group Bravehearts after Abbey’s death and wanted to educate and protect other children from the same fate.

She said she decided to undertake the enormous seven-day challenge for the one in five children who are sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday.

“It was the most awesome experience of my life,” she said.

“I ran with 20 people who all had similar stories and I made some amazing friendships that will last a lifetime.

“Abbey was with me every step of the way. I spoke with her while I ran and told her that I wanted to turn her story into one that would help others from suffering the way she did.”

Ms Hamersley, along with Abbey’s best friend Alexandra O’Brien, competed in the seven marathons, travelling to a new state each day after competing the gruelling 42km marathon.

The duo raised more than $10,000 each for Bravehearts in the lead up to the marathon, which will go towards counselling and education programs in schools to help empower young kids.

Ms Hamersley is now campaigning along with Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston for a royal commission to investigate Australia’s family law system after the release of Abbey’s Project last month, a report which said the system was failing children and exposing them to further sexual assault.

She said she was also hoping an education program “Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure Show” could be brought to WA schools to help teach children as young as five to not keep secrets and tell an adult if they feel unsafe.

“It has to be taught to young kids. It’s our most vulnerable members of society that are at risk and it’s everyone’s responsibility to protect them,” she said.

“Every child has the right to a safe childhood.”

Abbey reported the abuse to police but died before a trial could be held.

Ms Hamersley said she wished she had the skills to help Abbey.

“Talk to your children and give them the skills to help them. We do not want to talk about it because it is horrible, but we have to,” she said.

“I tried to help her and she struggled so hard and was positive, but her heart was broken. For Abbey it was a violation of trust, which contributed to her taking her own life.”

Visit Bravehearts.