Boy battles his inner demons after abuse
KRYSTAL lays awake at night with three constant thoughts swimming through her mind - Will the nightmares stop? Will the anger subside? Will my son be okay?
Those nights can last for an eternity in Krystal's mind despite only being eight hours in length.
They are dark times . . . littered with dark thoughts.
Krystal's thoughts are interrupted when she hears her young son Sam screaming and sobbing uncontrollably in the room next to her.
She immediately rushes to his bedroom to comfort him and to provide him with the motherly love she has always shown her son.
Sam was seven when he was brutally raped, sodomised and molested - not by a stranger, but by someone much closer to home.
The monster who committed these heinous crimes against young Sam was his cousin - a once trusted family member.
Sam was one of three young boys his cousin groomed and abused.
He used computer games, blackmail and coercion to keep the boys under his control.
His cousin, 18, was sentenced to two years behind bars last year after he pleaded guilty to 17 child sex offences against the three innocent boys.
But the sentence was wholly suspended.
The Queensland Times has decided not to reveal the depraved sex acts Sam's cousin subjected him to given their shocking and graphic nature.
Sam is too young to fully understand the true nature of the crimes committed against him.
But he knows what happened was wrong.
Sam will no doubt have to deal with his own demons over the coming years when he begins to fully understand the veracity of what occurred.
The Queensland Times travelled to meet with Krystal and Sam at their home in the Lockyer Valley to tell the story of a family who are piecing together their shattered lives.
Krystal said Sam was still trying to come to terms with what his cousin did to him.
She said her son has had his childhood ripped away from him and his innocence stolen.
"One of the most difficult things for me as a mother is not being able to stop his pain, his thoughts, his anger and his tears," she said
"The emotional and mental scarring will be a constant torment, for him, and for me.
"There is no band-aid solution for this."
Krystal said the offences against her son had a devastating effect on her once unbreakable bond with her family.
She said she still struggles with her feelings when she thinks about what happened to her beautiful boy.
"I am overcome by nightmares, sleepless nights, crying a lot, anxiety and immense anger," she said.
"I sought the help of a psychologist and I am still learning ways to deal with the emotions.
"I now harbour a great mistrust in people, especially my family.
"If I could not trust my own family . . . then who can I trust now?"
Sam, who asked to speak with the Queensland Times, said the crimes committed against him always played on his mind.
He said he just wanted to go back to being a normal young boy who liked football and playing with his mates.
"It has made me scared, angry, upset and most of all humiliated," he said.
"Sometimes I do not want to leave my mum's side and I always need a light on and cannot go into any room without someone I trust.
"I no longer like to do sleepovers with my friends because I think I will need my mum throughout the night."
Sam said when he first saw a psychologist he found it hard to tell her what happened.
He said he cannot comprehend why he can go from a happy young boy, to a young boy filled with rage.
"Sometimes I get angry and it feels like my head is on fire and I do not know how to put the fire out," he said.
"I remember one night I was upset and angry because I had seen something that reminded me of what my cousin did to me.
"I was crying a lot and was getting very angry at my mum.
"She was trying to cuddle me and kept saying it would be alright, but my head was on fire and I could not stop it.
"I fell to the ground and begged my mum to let me kill myself so I would not think about it anymore."
Sam told the Queensland Times there were other occasions when he felt something come over him.
He said speaking with his psychologist had given him the tools he needed to help deal with them.
"Sometimes I get so angry about what happened I punch myself in the head," he said.
"I do not know why I do it.
"The lady (psychologist) has taught me how to breathe properly when I get upset and that really helps.
"I just hope one day I will be able to forget about what happened to me."
Krystal said it was heartbreaking to witness first-hand the transformation in her young boy.
She said she would never stop blaming herself for allowing a monster inside their home.
"To have witnessed him change completely since these crimes were committed against him has been terribly hard on me," she said.
"His is simply an empty shell of his former self.
"The innocent, trusting and happy little seven-year-old boy, has turned into a confused, anxious, angry and untrusting 10-year-old person.
"I no longer have a little boy who had nothing more to worry about than a scratch on his knee or where he left his school shoes.
"He now is a boy who lives with worry and fear . . . it is absolutely heartbreaking."
*Krystal and Sam are not their real names.