Lucinda was just four years old when a family friend started sexually abusing ...

Lucinda was just four years old when a family friend started sexually abusing ...
Lucinda was just four years old when a family friend started sexually abusing ...

Lucinda Hoffman froze in her seat when the therapist queried: 'Have you ever been abused?'

It was a question no-one had ever thought to ask.  

For 14 years she had suppressed painful childhood memories, numbing her pain by obsessively restricting food and shedding kilos.

But now, the recollections were starting to flood back.  

From age four, Lucinda was sexually abused by a 16-year-old family friend just metres away from their parents during household get-togethers. 

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Every fortnight for three years, the teenage boy would offer to teach her how to play handball outside while the adults chatted nearby. 

Lucinda Hoffman, 26, spent nine years suffering from an eating disorder before realising it was connected to the sexual abuse she suffered as a child

Lucinda Hoffman, 26, spent nine years suffering from an eating disorder before realising it was connected to the sexual abuse she suffered as a child 

In reality, he would lure her into the car and lock her inside before subjecting the pre-schooler to sickening sex acts she was too young to understand. 

'The adults thought he was a really nice boy, teaching me how to play ball,' Ms Hoffman, now 26, told Daily Mail Australia. 

'He would ask them for the keys to the car "to get the Gameboy". 

'I remember it was uncomfortable and I didn't want to be there.  And he would tell me to be quiet and "just do this then we can play ball".'

Lucinda, unable to articulate what was happening, didn't tell anyone about the attacks.

The years of abuse finally ended when Lucinda and her mother left Sydney for Perth when she was seven. But the torment was far from over.   

The young girl, struggling to comprehend the painful emotions she was suffering following the sexual abuse, developed an eating disorder two years later.

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It started with Lucinda overeating, in one instance hiding under the staircase to devour an entire loaf of bread.    

Lucinda pictured age four, around the time the sexual abuse began

Lucinda pictured age four, around the time the sexual abuse began 

Only a little girl, she did not understand what was happening and could not communicate what she was experiencing

Only a little girl, she did not understand what was happening and could not communicate what she was experiencing 

'It was my coping mechanism. I had so much shame about what I had experienced,' she said. 

'When you are little, the only feeling you have is that the behaviour is gross, so then you think you are gross and something is wrong with you.

'I had all of these emotions going through me but no ways to understand them. So I began overeating to numb the pain.'

Around the same time, as the nine-year-old girl grappled to make sense of the vile acts committed against her, she copped another devastating blow when her father, Steven, was diagnosed with a HIV-related brain tumour.  

Three years later, as his condition rapidly declined, Lucinda and her mother flew to London - where he had lived since the marriage ended - to see him in the hospice. 

The brain tumour had left her 'energetic and fun' dad extremely sick, suffering from hallucinations and reduced to a 'child like' state as he received constant care. 

A few weeks later, after spending every moment by her beloved father's side, reading books and feeding him, he sadly died. 

'I was there the last minute he took his breath,' Lucinda said.

Lucinda with her mum Megan and dad Steven around age nine - when her eating disorder started

Lucinda with her mum Megan and dad Steven around age nine - when her eating disorder started

In 2007, Lucinda tragically lost her father Steven (pictured together when she was aged six) to  cancer

In 2007, Lucinda tragically lost her father Steven (pictured together when she was aged six) to  cancer 

'His partner started crying, then it hit me that he wasn't moving. Then I dropped to the ground, crying.'

After her father's death, Lucinda's eating disorder went rampant. She became anorexic and controlled her diet as a way to escape stress. 

Despite her obsession with food and fluctuating weight, she remained in denial about her problem.  And because she was never looked drastically underweight, no one around her picked up on the disorder either. 

'My whole world revolved around food, my weight, my body image. It was all I thought about 24/7,' she said. 

'But I thought "I’m not a skeleton, so I am not sick". I saw top psychologists. I went to top private schools but no-one questioned that I had a disorder. 

'I was a walking advertisement for PTSD  [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder].'  

When Lucinda turned 18 and was in Year 12, her anorexia became more severe after she was sexually assaulted by a male student. In eerily

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