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EXCLUSIVE: “I’ve found my voice” Alison Daddo talks for the first time about being attacked as a teen

"I felt like it played such an integral part of who I was as a young girl that I had to write about it."
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Trigger warning: this article discusses sexual assault.

As Alison Daddo was writing her book about the life-changing experience of menopause, she knew there was one very personal story that she would have to share for the first time if she was to be “honest about who I was”.

But after 35 years and quite a few therapy sessions, Alison felt she was in a place of enough strength and power to finally open up about the traumatic sexual assault she endured as a teenage model.

“I’ve never talked about it before,” she shares with WHO. “It was a big decision… but I felt like it played such an integral part of who I was as a young girl that I had to write about it.

“I had silenced myself in so many ways from a young girl into my 20s and into my 30s as well, but once I hit 46, 47, 48, I thought, ‘I actually can’t put a stopper in this anymore.’”

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“I felt like it played such an integral part of who I was as a young girl that I had to write about it.” (Credit: Carlotta Moye)

The former Dolly cover girl, who every Australian woman of a certain vintage grew up with, decided to open up about the brutal rape as she penned her first book, Queen Menopause: Finding Your Majesty in the Mayhem.

When she was just 17 and working as a model in Japan, she was at a party when she was grabbed, shoved into a closet and groped before a stranger came to her rescue. But worse was yet to come.

The man who came to her aid, a professional boxer, befriended her and escorted her home – where he forced himself on her, pinning her to the bed and ignoring her desperate cries of “no”.

“Once his body was on top of mine, once his arms gripped mine, once I was unable to move, I gave in. I let the rape happen,” she writes.

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Alison with her family. (Credit: Instagram)

The terrifying attack “irrevocably changed who I am”, explains Alison. But as she came to write about the ageing process and how going through perimenopause and menopause had also changed her, she felt it was important to tell her story.

“I had spent many, many therapy sessions understanding it, unpacking the idea that it was my fault… and once I was able to let that go and know that I was actually the victim in that, the healing really began. It’s a scar now, not a wound anymore.”

In her book, which is part memoir and part self-help, Alison, 52, gives a refreshingly honest account of the trials and tribulations – and ultimately triumphs – of going through menopause. She details the changes, both physical (night sweats, weight gain, hot flushes and lack of libido, to name just a few) and mental (forgetfulness, bursts of rage and tearfulness, again to name just a few) she underwent in the hope that other women would not feel so alone with their symptoms. And she does it with a lovely sense of humour.

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“He’s been so supportive the whole way through,” Alison said of husband Cameron Daddo. (Credit: Pillip Castleton)

“I wanted to take someone reading this on a bit of a journey and say, ‘This is my life, this is what menopause is for me and maybe you can relate,’” she says. “I really wanted the book to feel like a girlfriend sitting down with them and talking about their experiences.”

Like many women, Alison says she knew very little about the experience of menopause until she was in the midst of it and hopes this book will inform women of all ages – as well as their partners.

“I also want women to know that they’re going to get through it and that there’s a [new] lease on life that’s coming their way.”

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(Credit: Allen & Unwin)

Alison, who has followed her childhood dream to become a teacher and now works as a specialist assistant at a Sydney primary school, is full of praise for the support she got from Cameron Daddo, her husband of 30 years – although she does wish he’d chew a bit more quietly!

“He’s been so supportive the whole way through,” she smiles.

You can buy Alison’s book, Queen Menopause: Finding Your Majesty in the Mayhem here.

If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit their website.

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