A family torn apart by a stepfather's horrific actions has come back stronger and more determined to make a lasting change for Australian children.
Annie Jones and Tracey Morris, who co-founded national charity No More Fake Smiles, are on their way to help hundreds of children through their fundraising initiative during Child Protection Week.
The dedicated mother and daughter are aiming to raise $700,000 in seven days to help 700 victims of child sexual abuse by providing therapy, support and healing for the children and their families.
Last year, there were 14,760 reported sexual abuse cases of children aged 19 years and younger.
Ms Morris said Australian Bureau of Statistics released in July showed the country had experienced eight consecutive years of increases in the number of reported child sexual abuse cases.
Police statistics have revealed the Sunshine Coast Council area is among one of three areas nationally with the highest "unfounded" rates, rejecting 25 per cent of sexual assaults reported in the 10 years to 2018.
"It is a pandemic of a very different kind that has gone unnoticed within our society for far too long," Ms Morris said.
Annie, now aged 20, knows first-hand how vital therapy and family support is after waiting years for her stepfather to be sentenced for sexually abusing her when she was a child.
In October of 2015, Annie found her voice and told her mother what she'd been enduring, after feeling "isolated, disconnected and like I could not relate to one person on the entire planet".
"I was so silenced, living my life in fear," she said.
"I acted 'normal' making sure to put on my fake smile every morning before I left my bedroom. I was waiting for everyone to see the 'help me' in my smile, that I thought I was so clearly expressing."
Ms Morris said after immediately kicking her husband out of the house, what followed was a "tormenting" three-year criminal process which resulted in Annie's abuser receiving 17 years in jail.
"I remember dropping to my knees when we walked out (of the court) and just sliding down the wall and going 'my God, it's over'," Ms Morris said.
But while her abuser was behind bars and Annie could seemingly return to normal life, her mental health deteriorated and she was eventually hospitalised.
Now after years of therapy, self care and healing as a family, Annie is more than just another statistic. She's a fighter.
Last year Annie, Ms Morris and family member Katie established No More Fake Smiles as a place for those affected by abuse to access resources and to ensure children felt safe to speak out.
Ms Morris said if it wasn't for extensive therapy for Annie and herself, they wouldn't have made it to where they were today.
She said the government support services offered to Annie and the family were simply not enough, and called for more funding for individualised therapy for victims of child sexual abuse and their families.
"Annie was the victim as far as the justice system was concerned. But as far as myself and my other three kids … we were never in the mix," she said.
"Annie couldn't have got through what she went through if I couldn't have held her up, and I needed somebody to hold me up."
That's why one of the main missions of No More Fake Smiles is to facilitate appropriate therapeutic services for victims of child sexual abuse and secondary victims - the family members who are as affected but often overlooked.
"There's so many different options that are needed, especially for kids, because a lot of them can't talk about what's happening to them," Ms Morris said.
Both Annie and her mum are also strong advocates for change in the criminal justice system through highlighting how the same crime could result in different sentences depending on which state or territory in which the abuse occurred.
With No More Fake Smiles' annual fundraiser being cancelled due to COVID-19, the charity has shifted its focus online and is taking its mission Australia-wide.
Annie and Ms Morris are urging locals and Australians to get behind their virtual fundraising efforts this Child Protection Week.
Every cent will go towards the charity's mental health program, which helps primary and secondary victims of child sexual abuse access appropriate recovery therapies.
"We've got so many kids coming to us and we don't have the money," Ms Morris said.
"This $700,000 is to be able to have enough money to help kids nationally.
"We've got so many more things that we want to do along the advocacy line (and) changing legislation … but what we can do right now is fundraise and help kids."