A Testament to survival
I Peter Hawes glass artist as some of you know me or perhaps you know me as that speaker in the
hearing voices movement or for some of my other work in mental health, a lot of you I count myself
lucky enough to call my friends.
Whatever you know me as there is still so much about me unknown.
My life was filled with multiple traumas for 32 years one after the other some have been
documented I.e. the rape, operations, emotional abuse, physical abuse and so on.
But I want to speak in great detail about one incident in particular that happened when I was 6ish
My reason I want to not only affirm in my own mind I am a survivor, but also give a testament to
the human race and what we are able to endure and as to why I believe in you all so much, cause
after all we have been through we are still here.
The incident in particular I wish to speak about is quite triggering so please take heed as it's not for
the faint hearted, That said on with my story.
I was around sixish and it was one of my many days in grade prep.
There was an old janitor who had a dog on his Ute, he loved that dog.
One day I was walking round by myself as I often did in school, apparently incontinence leads to no
Anyway I saw this dog shaking and thought to myself, oh the poor dogs cold I will give it a hug that
should warm it up, as only a six year old could think.
I went over to the dog and wrapped my arms around it saying hey little buddy maybe we can be
friends together, here I will keep you warm.
As I leaned my head towards it's shoulder to embrace him, the poor dog frightened by an incident
early I was unaware of till later involving year 5 boy's throwing rocks, snarled and savaged my lip.
It bit half my lip clean off.
I blacked out my eyes shut completely or maybe they were open and I just saw black I don't know.
I do know I felt nothing in this blackness but water dripping out of my mouth.
I ran screaming aware that something terrible had happened but couldn’t see what in my state of
A year 6 girl found me running repeatable into a wall and took me to the sick bay.
I remember feeling them dabbing at my mouth with something and then holding a cloth against my
mouth. They kept telling me it was going too be ok. I just wanted to see again. They told me my
mum and dad would be there soon.
I waited patiently, I still couldn't feel my lip or anything really.
I remember sitting there thinking about a book I read on aboriginals and how they could shut off
there pain receptors by choice if they broke there leg in the bush so they could walk all the way
back to there camp, it was a coping mechanism the mind had and most often did in cases of extreme
But the aboriginals could do it by choice.
I decided this was the reason I couldn't see and if that was the case something very bad had
My mum came in and screamed and said Pete and wrapped her arms round me suddenly I could see
Shortly after came the discussion of something called suing and then they said to just get me to the
I went and saw doctor burger a father of a kid at school.
He looked at my lip and said mate that’s cactus, I can sew it up but you will be hideously scared for
I remember cursing leaving my bag at school with my dictionary in it having not come across the
word hideous before.
I was the only six year old I knew who carried a dictionary in his school bag in grade prep.
I was pretty advanced for my age a child prodigy if you will, I read war and peace in the
2nd year of kinder garden which was subsequently where I picked up the checking words in
dictionary habit from as in kinder I was four or five and might have been brilliant but my
vocabulary was still expanding.
Mum and Dr burger decided to get me to the children’s hospital to try something called plastic
surgery to see if they could build me a new lip.
I was excited about this and asked for a blue one.
With all the operations I had already on bowl conditions I quickly got in the habit of joking round
so my parents didn't see how shit scared I really was. I figured they had enough on there plate they
didn't need to waste time consoling me.
Long story short dad came home and took me to the children’s hospital, I met a special surgeon and
an anesthetist and they drew on what was left of my lip and did a fair few drawings more on paper
and booked the operation for the day after.
They put me down as nil orally and I remember dad doing a skit from faulty towers and joking
round calling me nil orally man.
Dad slept in a chair by my bed that night in hospital, But that was not uncommon for dad through
out life he was the one person who was consistently there for me through life. He spent a lot of time
in hospitals by my side and supported me he nearly lost his job many times over it.