RAPIST: 'It doesn't hurt that much, don't be a wuss'
"IT DOESN'T hurt that much, don't be a wuss."
These words haunt Zoe* as she recalls the moment Nigel Mark Hodges stole her innocence.
The 33-year-old rapist has been sentenced to eight years in jail for a series of sexual crimes against the girl, following a trial in Maryborough District Court this year.
Zoe, 17, feels relieved Hodges is locked away, but says she has been given a life sentence because of his actions.
The brave girl spoke to the Chronicle because she wanted her story told, largely to encourage other victims to come forward.
She was prepared to be named but Queensland law does not allow for child victims of sex crimes to be identified in the media.
Sitting at the kitchen table of her father's home in Maryborough wearing a black spaghetti top and tights, she looks like the girl next door.
Casting her mind back to when the offending began, she recalls initially developing a school-girl crush on Hodges - which he knew about.
More than twice her age, Hodges would tell her what she wanted to hear.
It felt safe.
Her first memory of his advances was while the pair played a game on the PlayStation.
She was about 13 when the offending began.
"I hadn't even started my period," she said.
"Sometimes he would do something and sometimes he wouldn't.
"Nigel wanted it all to be a secret."
Maryborough District Court was told that on one occasion, Hodges began raping Zoe while she pretended to be asleep.
As she screamed in pain, he told her "it doesn't hurt that much, don't be a wuss."
Fearing no-one would believe her, Zoe kept the abuse secret - initially unaware it was illegal.
Her school grades plummeted and she began living a troubled life, regularly self-harming.
She dropped out of school in Year 10.
It was only when she was old enough to realise the gravity of the abuse that she confronted Hodges.
"I told him to stop," she said.
"I honestly don't know why it happened."
In her later teen years, she finally confided in family members and the police were contacted.
"Saying it makes you feel a million times better and free, honestly," she said.
"If I could say one thing to everyone else, they should all come forward and speak about it."
Her romantic relationships have suffered because of the offending, as Zoe now finds it difficult to return kind gestures.
But while there are many challenges and flashbacks Zoe says she is optimistic and focussing on a brighter future.
She has returned to school and is working towards a career in aged care.
Hodges will be eligible for parole in October, 2021.
*Name changed to protect victim's identity.