The former actress tells Steve Jackson about the dark secret she had to keep for years and the betrayal that cruelly followed.
She will always be remembered as bright-eyed Jenny Kelly from Hey Dad..! but, nearly 20 years on, Sarah Monahan reveals the show still conjures distressing memories of sexual abuse and a trust betrayed.
With comedic timing beyond her years and a contagious smile, Sarah won the nation’s hearts as hockey-mad Jenny after debuting in the show at the age of nine. But behind the scenes, the actress says she was abused before being left in financial ruin after her childhood earnings were squandered.
Indeed, she was so traumatised by her time on the popular program, Sarah has mentally “blocked out” large sections of her youth.
“A lot of people ask me questions about Hey Dad..! but I’ve erased huge portions of my time on the show from my brain,” she tells Woman’s Day in an exclusive interview.
“I’ve literally blocked most of it out.”
Most, but not all – Sarah still recalls all too vividly being repeatedly groped by a person involved with Hey Dad..!. At first, she says, the person, who cannot be named for legal reasons, made a game of tickling her, but it soon evolved into something more sinister.
“This person used to sit me on his lap, or tickle me,” she says. “But then he started putting his arm around me and trying to do this reach around thing and grabbing me [on the breast].
Or he’d just tickle me but, at the same time, try to feel me up.
“He never touched me below the waist because I always tried to make sure we were never alone,” she adds. “But he was always there flashing me or trying to cop a feel. I quickly learnt never to be alone in private with him, especially after he started flashing me.”
For the full story see this week's Woman's Day, on sale March 15, 2010.