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I am a writer and commentator, with a background in Indigenous sector project management and tabloid newspaper publishing.As a retired older-age Australian I use my time, and my voice, to highlight the level of social injustice that exists in this country. I seek a better, more humane, more progressive Australia.I do not limit myself to any one topic, and my writing style gives whimsy and left-field thought at least as much power as logic, fact, and reason.

Small victories. Worth celebrating.

Most of you know me. The writer of JAGGED. But let’s forget all that. Let’s dive into politics.

I live on the Sunshine Coast in Qld – LNP and Independent heartland. I live in the seat of Nicklin which the ALP has never been able to gain.

Over all the years my GREEN vote has been totally wasted here on the Sunshine Coast, I vote GREEN and I preference the ALP. I rock up each election year in the tender hope that my progressive vote will have some value and will make a difference. For the first time, in this year of 2020, my progressive GREEN vote and the attached Preference helped the ALP to secure the seat of Nicklin. Perhaps I will be thanked for that by the ALP … but history tells me that probably I will not be.

But I don’t care about that. For all the evident faults and lack of courage of the ALP they are so much a better choice of Government than the LNP. In life, small victories are worth celebrating, my progressive vote helped the ALP to secure victory in this stranglehold LNP seat of Nicklin. So to my GREEN and ALP friends … let’s share a Champagne. It might be a small victory … but it is sure as hell worth celebrating!

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JAGGED #10 – The End Of The Telling

(Follows on from JAGGED #9 – Crazy Daze)

JAGGED! What a journey!

As I claw my way back into life I have come to realise that I cannot just leave JAGGED hanging on that terrible moment of despair … that moment when I genuinely believed that continuing to be here was just not worth it. To just leave things hanging on a blast of darkness is not fair to those of you who have been supportive and who have read and commented on the content of my mind and early childhood experiences, and the written version of that content as represented by JAGGED.

JAGGED will never be finished in any conventional sense. How could it be? It is an unfolding personal story that will continue to play out for as long as I live. There is no neatness of finality attached to it, there is no succinct summation of lessons learned, there is no statement of salvation attached.

You cannot go through the wish for and the actioning of suicide and come out the other side as the same person. In a very real sense the person I was did die in early August 2020. As I was I was not sustainable. Which probably leaves both you and me asking well who is Keith Edwin Thomas Davis now?

Still a human being of course, still breathing too. I’ve started to come out of the well of darkness appreciative of real things, things that money simply cannot buy. Love, family, friendship, breezes that ruffle your hair, the fact that my eyes can still see, the beauty of silence and calmness, the happy wagging of a dog’s tail, the feel of sun on skin, a justified love of the iconic split-windscreen Kombi. Not a long list to be sure … but certainly better than the old list that consumed me.

I haven’t written anything at all over the last few months. I’ve had nothing to say. Probably because I needed to come to an understanding of who am I now, who is rising from the ashes, what bits of me are going forward and what bits are being left behind. All a bit of a self-segue I suppose.

One part of me is being helped by mental health professionals. The public health system kicked in big time … a psychologist visits me in my home roughly once a fortnight, and I go to see a psychiatrist who is organising a weekly series of psychotherapy sessions that will run for a year … how amazing is that considering there are no fees attached, bless the public health system, and especially considering the fact that the Catholic Church refused to accept responsibility or even consider sending any form of remedial therapy my way.

Also, I organised my own Mental Health Plan through my GP and I see another psychologist every other couple of weeks or so. I have got over my absolute fear of anti-depressants and I slip down a capsule of Elaxine SR 75 each morning with that vital first cup of coffee. I am starting to feel better, I actually even found myself cracking a smile yesterday … not for any grand reason, just simply because I could.

Miracles don’t happen and the flicker flicker of my abuse experiences and the legacies of same still flow through my mind, but not as powerfully, their clarity is muted, and there are days now when that particularly nasty movie does not run across the inside of my forehead at all. Millimetres of progress in that area are millimetres of progress … to me they seem like huge strides.

The women of this world are beyond value. My daughter, once she found out what had happened, offered to come back from London and spend time with me, I asked her not to end the journey of her lifetime, and she is very much on the creative journey of her lifetime, and so we connected on WhatsApp and now video and audio talk once a week … fathers and daughters … special special special. My female friends, again once they realised what had happened, pulled ferociously and lovingly in behind me, no judgement, no chiding, just flat out targeted love and support. You can spend your lifetime feeling unappreciated because of depressive legacies and it is gold to find out that indeed you are appreciated, and more to the point, always were. A male Survivor has also been there quietly in the background over the last few months … he doesn’t say much … he doesn’t have to … I’ve felt the support.

Hopeful delusion is a luxury I can no longer afford. Hoping for justice and fairness from the Catholic Church, and trying to deal with their brutal smack-down of my claim, led me to wanting to kill myself. None of that is worth a re-visit. I will fill out a form for the National Redress Scheme, it is just a form, they’ll do with it what they will, I’ll send the form in, and then forget about it.

You can probably all read between the lines where my pursuit for justice from the Catholic Church is concerned. I held the mirror up to them and told them that their rape of me was wrong, their mental cruelty towards me was wrong, their physical abuse of me was wrong, and that their response to me as an adult was wrong. Their re-traumatising of me nearly killed me. It is not worth a re-visit.

As for writing? There have been some stirs of late. I’ve started an article on the Re-imagining of Australia … on what sort of nation we could become post-COVID. Why not? Chances to re-form our country do not come along all that often. It will take some time to write it.

Meanwhile I’ve been getting down and dirty in the earth, getting soil under my fingernails, and building things. I’m laying a paving path for a friend and I’ve done some marine wire work on her steps … therapy comes in many forms.

So, good old dear old JAGGED. An incomplete book written by who I once was. Now … I live. I think. I love. I accept help. That is an appropriate end to the telling.

(Ed: To read Keith’s story in full, you can start here with Part 1).

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JAGGED #9 – Crazy Daze

Follows on from JAGGED #8 – ghost-woman MOTHER

(JAGGED has contained some difficult material regarding suicide ideation and the legacies of childhood sexual abuse – this installment of the book contains perhaps the most raw example of that – and it is only fair to warn you. After this installment though, the material will be lighter and the book will start to work towards a conclusion).

Chapter 26: Locked up in my own Asylum.

On Saturday 1st August 2020 at 7.59 AM a shattered weeping mess of a man walked through the doors of the Acute Mental Health Ward of Nambour General Hospital (I know that to be a fact because my admission tag is sitting on my desk in front of me right now). The walk from the spot where I had parked my car up to those doors represents the longest walk, and the longest reach for internal change, that I have ever undertaken in my life. I’m glad that I did that.

I’ve mentioned at the odd time that JAGGED is a live document, that it is being shared with you as it is being written, and so it has been, and so it shall be with this Chapter no matter the personal discomfit felt by me. Since JAGGED is being written in the immediacy of the moment I’ve decided to write about my admission to the Ward before too much time passes, before I fall into the trap of watering things down or skewing truth in order to present things in a better light.

My voice is my own voice, but it can also be seen as representative of the legion of unheard Childhood Sexual Abuse Voices who ended their own lives when the legacies, the pain, the confusion, the depression, and the terrible carrying of an imposed shame, proved in the end to be unbearable.

On that Saturday, for me, after sixty-two years of trying to hold it all at bay, it finally became unbearable. I gave myself permission to let go. My strength ran out. It all felt like it was out of my control – like the air rushing out of a pricked balloon. I did not see it coming.

I would like to be able to tell you that I made a conscious decision to voluntarily commit myself – but it was nothing like that at all. Whatever drove my legs up the hill to that hospital it certainly was not my conscious mind. On that day my mind was in terminal spin down mode, totally fogged out – I just wanted it to end. People say that you have to hit the absolute bottom before you start to look upwards again – well no, things don’t work that way – hitting the bottom with velocity tears apart the landing pad and plummets you into the fucking abyss.

This is literal – on that Saturday I gave myself over to the Universe and said I give up, I’m yours if you want it, you decide. The harmed side of my mind defeated the unharmed side – and it did so with such an impelling rush that, and why hide truth, I faded away and fell apart under the assault.

Writing JAGGED and finally being able to fully open up about my abuse experiences did not by itself send me into the abyss. Nor did the death of my sister. Nor did the energy-sapping experience of litigation against the Catholic Church. Nor did the weightiness of the constant carrying of suicide ideation. Nor did the depression. Nor did the agoraphobia. Nor did the PTSD. I was able to hang on tentatively despite those things.

What ultimately tipped me over was the shame. That most least talked of legacies of childhood sexual abuse – that deepest of deep down feelings that one has no value; that inner core of immovable belief that one is simply worthless; that one deserves no better; that one brought it all upon oneself. The shame of the perpetrators, the shame that they should have felt but did not feel was transferred into my spirit, and my heart. It has white-anted me throughout my whole life where work and relationships are concerned and finally, on that Saturday, it led to structural collapse.

It is very easy for others to say that one should not feel shame for the abuse experiences one experienced as a child. Well, shame is one of the most intractable and insidious of legacies, and it does not shift or mitigate away over time. It clings around and compresses your heart and being with a strength that grows (if professional therapeutic help is not on the board) with the passing of time.

I spent nearly ten days in the acute mental health ward under suicide watch. The staff in there are beautiful human beings, they assisted me back out of the abyss – it was a gentle cajoling conducted over a number of days. Right at the start .. whoosh .. in went the Valium .. whoosh .. in went the Mirtazapine. As someone who has never used such things it threw my brain all around the shop.

I’ve heard about people being in a zombie trance-like state, and I can only suppose that I must have looked like that. I spent a lot of time in the first day or two crouched up in a foetal sort of state and gushing tears. Looking back on it now a lot of pain and hurt and other shit took the opportunity to vent out.

And …

I cannot, any longer, be the man who walked into that Ward. I cannot go back to who I was before Saturday 1st August 2020. That person threw his fate to the Universe and the winds.

For the last sixty-two years I have lived in an imposed world. An Asylum that was crafted for me by the legacies of childhood sexual abuse. A world of darkness, a world of imposed mental ill-health, a world of fear, a world of shame. It is not surprising that that world ultimately sought to end itself, what is surprising is that it took so long.

This is not a moment of casual whimsy, this is not a floaty mind-fuck recounting of the last week and a half. It is an indicator of change that must happen. The man who walked out of that Ward and who is sitting here writing this right now is choosing to start off again, is choosing to reach for life, is choosing to accept help, is choosing to grasp upwards and outwards with all of my strength and claw my way out of this abyss. There is no other option.

I don’t kid myself that it will be an easy path to tread …

It is the most brutal of internal and external assessments of self to understand that a week and a half ago I gave myself permission to end things. I did not stand in the road of it. I reached that most terrible of spaces. Yet, my legs walked me up that hill to that hospital.

I rejected, not in any way in my conscious mind, the permission that I had given myself – and that is a position that can only be reached once, and it cannot be denied that once that sort of let go freedom has been offered and rejected there is only one thing left … stick out the left foot and take a plodding step, then stick out the right foot and take another plodding step … and receive any and all help that is offered.

For the first time in my life I am now taking a mild form of anti-depressant. I now have after-care support from Artius. I have decided to re-consider any further form of civil litigation against the Catholic Church and I’m pulling together an application to the National Redress Scheme (the civil litigation system simply re-traumatises and does not, and probably because of its adversarial nature cannot, ever deliver justice). I have set up a Mental Health Plan with my GP and I am slotted in to see a Psychologist who is familiar with trauma counselling and EMDR. In other words I’ve hauled myself up off my agorophobic arse in order to get out there and do something for myself.

My story, the story of my experiences, the story of the life I have lived and the legacies I carry as a result of multiple instances of childhood abuse ultimately has to have a point in the telling.

Before my young mind could even begin to process the first instance of abuse and the trauma of that first instance of abuse, it was then swamped by the next instance of abuse, and then the next instance of abuse, and then more of it over a seven year period. I was never able to process any of it. All of it has remained unprocessed and locked inside to this day. No wonder I describe my world as a dark universe, no wonder I say that it is my darkness.

Early intervention is key. Unpacking the trauma affects out of the young child or young teenager is key. There is no such thing as later in these matters. Later is dangerously capable of cementing legacies permanently into the mind/psyche of the abuse victim. Don’t just take my word for it as you sit and look at this – all you have to do is read JAGGED.

Early intervention in my era was not available, it was the era of chin-up and bear-up and don’t whinge. A jack hammer will be required in my case to let in light and beauty because the concrete has had sixty-two years to set – so be it, I’m prepared to fork out for a set of heavy duty ear muffs.

It is my current belief that all Survivors of childhood sexual abuse, whether they were abused in institutions or in their own homes, should be afforded free access to professional level trauma counselling for as long as it takes to unpack the trauma and the memories, to the best degree that is possible, of their unwanted earlier abuse experiences.

That will not be cheap, it will cost society some money. But think of the alternative. A tranche of unproductive lives that could never realise their potential and contribute fully to society, and a portion of that tranche of people who see no way out but to end their own lives. The cost of that, and the cost of the drug-masking and the alcohol-masking in order to blunt down the affects of abuse trauma, and the resultant drain on our health system creates a far greater monetary cost for society to bear.

If a young child or young teenager is abused today, there is no tomorrow in the mind of that human being, there is only today. Early intervention at the professional level gives them a chance of a productive and fulfilling tomorrow – it can create a tomorrow for them.

It tore my heart out to see some of the young people locked up against their will in that acute mental health ward. A proportion of them are childhood sexual abuse victims – they are at the beginning of their journey and I am well towards the end of mine in age terms. Their minds have been pushed to the psychotic verge by the strength and variety of drugs they took to try and push away their memories. Without help they are self-medicating to oblivion. I am not one to judge – in no way am I one to judge them – when I was young I could have so easily gone down that path.

I do not want anybody to live the life that I have led. I do not want a young person of today go on to live the kind of life I have led. It is why I plead the case for early intervention and free access to longer term professional level psychiatric trauma help for Survivors for as long as it takes.

Our public Acute Mental Health system does the best it can with the resources on offer. The one thing it cannot do is offer longer term therapeutic help. The system aims to guide the patient through the acute phase, in my case my wish to leave this life, and then tries to put in place post-care services. Real help, at the psychiatric level, comes at some considerable cost which is beyond the financial means of most patients who are treated in the public mental health system.

Closure is a word that people who have never experienced trauma like the sound of, and they genuinely hope that it will be granted to Survivors of the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. Closure is simply a word that does not exist in real life, there is no such thing as Closure.

However, the ability to subtly re-wire how the brain/mind processes past traumatic events is possible. Getting in early and mitigating down the affects of childhood sexual abuse is possible. Developing a gut-feel that one’s terrible memories exist in the past, and do not exist manifestly in the present, is possible. Except for the second sentence in this paragraph I intend to pursue those other possibilities on a personal level.

The legacies of childhood sexual abuse affect every breathing aspect of a Survivor’s life – work, relationships, and view of self. It is why mock apologies are worthless. Without professional intervention many Survivors live in internal and external worlds that mirror back and amplify the imposed legacies and from which, for those Survivors, there is seemingly no escape. Living that reality over sixty-two years ultimately threw me into the abyss.

JAGGED is my voice. Standing just behind me are the echoes of far too many other Voices that did not survive long enough to speak, or be heard.

I want to re-connect with health, family, love, and hope.

I want beauty and laughter back in my life.

To be continued … Link to Part 10)

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no more the SILENCE

Have a good look at this photo …

Now have a good look at this photo …

Look at the degradation and pain in the second photo. You are looking at the same person and at what the legacies of childhood sexual abuse do to a person over the course of a lifetime.

Those photos happen to be of me … but they could just as easily be the photos of many other men and women who have done their best to survive what was done to them as children.

Society, and that includes some, though not all of you, are not in the least interested in hearing what the lives of some of us Survivors (male or female) of childhood sexual abuse have been like.

There are decent people out there and none of the following applies to you. The following applies to the majority of the rest of you.

You seem to think that just because there was a Royal Commission and just because there was a public Parliamentary Apology that, just like magic, all is good for us and all is fine for us. Well here is a rough shaft to your way of thinking – such patronising bullshit makes no difference, and makes no change to what we deal with on a daily basis at all.

As the author of JAGGED on AIMN, and I consider myself blessed to be given the opportunity to speak about my own story on AIMN, I am careful in the publication of that Book to keep my Survivor Anger well in the background. In that Book I simply seek to show the truth of the life I have led.

But separate to JAGGED – I am appalled at how this society that you are part of treats Survivors of childhood sexual abuse. You seem to think that the existence of a flawed Redress Scheme rights all ills. You seem to think that our access to a civil litigation system delivers to us justice and fair recompense for our lived trauma. Your thinking on such matters is nothing short of delusional.

Do you realise that when we approach the legal system for justice we are torn apart by the system’s need for us to prove the veracity of our claims. We are torn apart, in some cases, by ambulance chaser type tort lawyers whose only interest is the quick prosecution of multiple claims to early Settlement. We are torn apart by institutions such as Churches who gave no thought to our welfare as children and who give not a shit for our adult selves when we seek a just hearing from them. Such matters constitute a form of torture.

so no more the SILENCE …

Here in the era of COVID-19 our social media and media airwaves are swamped by people who feel grandly hard done by because they have had to endure a couple of weeks of isolation. Seriously? How about you try the life of isolation that many of us Survivors of childhood sexual abuse have lived over multiple decades. For many of us Survivors we don’t get to eventually come out of our enforced isolation, for the majority of the complaining you the end is always only a couple of weeks away.

For many of us Survivors the enforced isolation proved too much and many of us ended up killing ourselves.

As a society, you are used to us Survivors speaking with a quiet and forelock-tugging voice. I’ll be buggered if I’ll use that sort of voice to represent myself anymore, and I encourage other Survivors of childhood sexual abuse to speak up harshly and loud and cut through the apathy and indifference with which the society that we are part of treats us.

We do want to be fully heard, even by people in our society who say ‘oh, I don’t waste my precious time acknowledging hard things or letting brutal truth impinge upon my wonderful protected lifestyle’. And we do also want real justice, and not the form of pretense justice that society in all its false-gushiness has deigned to send our way.

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JAGGED #8 – ghost-woman MOTHER

Follows on from JAGGED #7 – Bang goes the suicide gun.

I’ve never celebrated Mothers’ Day, and I never will. JAGGED is now 29,577 words long. In printed form that equates to roughly a 120 page book. That is quite a few words launched up from the depths of darkness. So far I have referenced my Mother with about six or seven of those 29,577 words – simply because I have very little to go on where her existence is concerned. In the next Chapter I tell you what I know, and I will give you an opinion on my parents.

I wonder how many other Survivors of institutionalised childhood sexual abuse (or non-institutionalised for that matter) have trodden the same parentless path that I did?

The forensic psychiatrist hired by the Church to interview and assess me asked me what percentage of my internal damage was caused by the break up of my family, and what percentage was caused by Catholic Church abuse. Even though I thought it was a stupid shitface of a question for a professional to ask a traumatised person, I told him that 80% of the damage was caused by the Church, and 20% was caused by the family break up. He was not happy with my answer. Well … I wish I had thought to say this at the time … ‘the fucking rapes and mental cruelty and abuse happened under Church care mate, what part of that don’t you get?’

This was taken just after I ‘visited’ the Church paid Psychiatrist. I felt assaulted during/after that session.

The session with that Church paid psychiatrist was very adversarial, and when he greeted me with the words ‘this session will not necessarily be to your benefit’ the words you’ve landed in a viper’s nest Keith immediately sprang to mind. The Church does not hire psychiatrists to bolster the legal claims of Survivors, the Church hires psychiatrists to water claims down – but there is more to the story than that …

It would pay Survivors to realise that when you launch civil proceedings against the Catholic Church the following can possibly happen to you, as it did to me. Both your own legal team, and the Church, will hire forensic psychiatrists to write a medico-legal report, and to probe, test, dig into, expose, question, and examine every single aspect of your abuse experiences and the legacies you carry as a result of that abuse. It is an unremitting process and it re-traumatises because it re-immerses you into the abuse experiences in a very rough and ragged manner. In my case the internal me, the me that lives in a permanently depressive abuse-induced environment, was brutally reefed out into the glaring light of day – re-traumatise doesn’t begin to explain how such a process feels.

It might surprise you to know that I do not hate that Church hired psychiatrist because there would be no point to that hate. The fact is, and this is the way it works folks, the odds are that the very next day he might have been hired by a Survivor’s legal team to compile a medico-legal report to prove the veracity of that Survivor’s claim against the Church. How a psychiatrist treats you in these matters very much depends on who is paying their bill.

Chapter 25: Hi Mum and Dad – where the hell were you?

I have no memory whatsoever of my Mother, and my siblings never, ever, once mentioned her to me. So it has left me scrambling through some old letters that my father and a distant cousin of his sent to my older sister many decades ago, and it has also caused me to scroll through various ancestry.com pages to try and pick up some hints and clues.

I am not the first person on this planet who has a Mother that he never knew, but I must say, it is such a strange feeling to know that while I personally went through such shitfull orphanage/visitation family abuse experiences, my Mother was out there in society kicking around, literally just up the road, and doing whatever it was that she did. I capitalise the word Mother because I believe that Mothers are very important human beings in the life of a child – so are Fathers.

The only person who remotely knew what my Mother was like was my Father – and when I met him for one day back in 1989 he told me that all of the time he was with her (long enough to have four children) he never did quite figure out who she was. When she left him to return to her husband and other child he was, to say the least, emotionally blown to the far side of the Andromeda Galaxy.

So here’s what little I know about my Mother …

Her name could be Vera Colman/Coleman, my Father knew her by that name, other family sources such as they are also say that her name was Vera Bess Kennedy (known as Davis). Who knows? Here’s a bit of a teaser photo I found on the Australian War Memorial site – could it actually be a photo of my Mother?

The timing, 1942, and the place, Qld, all fits. Could my Mother be in this photo?

This Chapter is also a bit of a combo – in that, if you read between the lines, you’ll probably form an opinion on why my family split up and I was placed in a Brisbane orphanage in 1957. Before my family fell apart we lived in Sydney and then, for a reason that will become pretty obvious, caught the train up to Brisbane.

Here are the excerpts from the letters, all of which were written in the 1980s …

Father: “I guess I have been very much a “loner’ since the end of 1957, the time we all parted in Brisbane.”

Father: “The few words of advice were to not thump my head on a brick wall. I knew then that everything was hopeless, that it was impossible for me to get you out of there.”

Father: “I knew her only as Vera Coleman (Colman). I never heard the name Bess. When I first met her she was sharing a flat with another girl, so it never occurred to me that she was married – a husband and teenage son.”

“Towards the end of 1957, Vera went missing on a Saturday (in Brisbane). On the Sunday the five of us walked down Edward Street to the Botanical Gardens for the afternoon. I think I notified the police that night of her disappearance as there was no word from her on our return to the room.”

“Vera turned up some days later, it was at least five days later but may have been more. It was around noon, her only conversation was that she was married, and was living with her husband and teenage son. She was only there long enough to put her clothes in a suitcase, then left. She was in a very determined mood.”

“Whether this happened before or after I went to St Vincent De Paul I don’t remember. I am Anglican, but Vera had kept you on the instruction of the Catholic faith. They arranged where you were to go.”

Insert from me: Ah – the good old Catholic Church. There they were with four kids on their hands, two girls and two boys. The family of those kids had just broken up and what was the first thing the Church decided to do? – they decided to split us up even further. My two older sisters were placed in an orphanage at Wynnum (Nazareth House), and my older brother and I were placed in a different orphanage at Nudgee (St Vincent’s). Just to cap it all off, the Church then separated my older brother and I into the ‘big boys’ and ‘little boys’ section of St Vincent’s. I was the youngest, and had just turned five years old at the time.

Father: “The police came to see me, I had previously reported to them what had happened with Vera. They told me that I had no jurisdiction over the children (my children) and that I had no rights concerning you! All this, with a few words of advice, showed me exactly where I stood – nowhere.”

Cousin: “Frank last saw Keith in the ‘50s’, you were all down at the Quay. It is beyond our comprehension why you were all separated. We were all delighted when Keith met Bess and had a lovely family, so what happened?”

Cousin:
“I was asking my brother Frank about Keith, he also remarked that he was one of the nicest men he ever knew, and that will always be the same with me.”

Cousin: “Something has come back to me. One evening we went over to Balgowlah with some toys for you and to see Keith and Bess. The house was opened, but no one at home. I think now you must have all gone to Qld. We left the toys but never received an acknowledgement, which was very strange.”

Cousin: “I think Keith has kept away because of what was done to you children.”

“I remember he met Bess in Brisbane. She was a Brisbane girl. I just cannot understand why they ignored you all those years, or put you in a Home, We are all so shocked and unless the circumstances were mitigating, it is unforgiveable.”

Father: “It is time to send you the enclosed papers, which will serve as a crash course on part of my history, for better or for worse, which is best in the long run. At least you will be aware of the facts if they crop up.”

Father: “The reason for moving to Queensland? We had notice of eviction from the house because of rent arrears so decided to go back to Brisbane. At least I knew I would be able to find a decent job in Brisbane. However things went wrong otherwise. I worked at Lennon’s Hotel up until 1959, and I then returned to Sydney.”

My Father. He thought he knew my Mother … well a bit of a surprise came his way!

So, there are only little ghost-whisperings about my Mother in those letters – but they are all I have to hang my thoughts and feelings about my Mother on.

Over all the decades up to my current age I have not thought about my parents all that much. I have nothing much in my memory to create any sort of imagining of what they were really like as people.

But I do know this. By dumping us and walking away they left four siblings permanently separated from their parents, and permanently separated from each other. My siblings and I were never able to re-connect in any meaningful way later on in life and not one of us ever broached the issue of our orphanage experiences with each other.

I was the youngest of the four of us. The split up of my family did contribute to the harm that my mind carries. I told the psychiatrist that it equated to about 20% of the damage. The other 80% was caused by the nuns and priests and workers at St Vincent’s, and by the members of the Visitation Family that I was placed with … all of those bastards circled my vulnerability like moths to a fucking flame.

So what do I think of my parents?

My Father was a loving, small, weakened man. He was badly damaged by his war experiences up in New Guinea in 1942 when the cargo vessel the MV MacDuhi was blown up under him by Japanese bombs. When I met him in 1989 for just that one day, he also told me that his later war experiences serving on American landing craft towards the end of the Pacific War haunted him – and that the sight of what human beings were capable of doing to each other created an internal trauma within himself that he was never able to move on from.

My Mother is a total unknown to me. I have no concrete information on what type of person she may have been. She was a married woman with a teenage son. She moved in with a lover, had four children with that lover, and then returned to her husband and son. She walked away from her other four children.

I have very mixed feelings regarding my parents. Part of me loves them – I was too young at the time to understand what was going on and why their relationship, and their stewardship of their four children, failed. When I met my Father in the flesh I chose to love him.

But there is one thing I cannot forgive …

Over the seven interminably long years that my childhood sexual abuse experiences unfolded, when I desperately hoped that somebody would come and rescue me from the orphanage, my Father was still in Brisbane for the first two years of it without once visiting me, and my Mother was just up the road in Brisbane for all of that time without once visiting me. They were both, literally, just up the bloody road.

I cannot, and never will, forgive either of them for that.

To be continued …

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JAGGED #7 – Bang goes the suicide gun.

Follows on from JAGGED #6 – Mental Illness and the Law.

A decent person, and I thank him for it, recently wrote in to AIMN re JAGGED and said …

“You are exposing us to the experiences and development of a person completely outside the parameters of the lives which most of us have encountered.”

I didn’t want my voice to come from that different place. My rough voice is the only authentic voice I have. Yes, it speaks of confronting things in a raw manner at times – it speaks of the damaging legacies of childhood sexual abuse. I am glad that most people do not have a need to speak with a voice such as mine.

Chapter 22: Bang bang goes the suicide gun.

For any of the following to make sense it might pay you to re-read Chapter 4, I don’t need to read it again because I see that movie on the inside of my forehead every day – and warning warning warning – this Chapter is about suicide.

Talking about suicide does not bother me at all. Talking about suicide is just words. The ‘feeling’ behind the words though bothers me greatly.

Flicker.

Flicker.

There is just a sliver of happenstance between the thought of suicide, the ideation of it, and the act itself. I’m still here so far because I seem to have an in-built dampener on my trigger finger. I don’t want to be here locked into this harmed mind – it saps my energy to still be here in this harmed mind – I want release from it. Yet, when my darkness flies me over the edge the undamaged part of me finds voice and says … just for a second stop … just stop for a second.

You might think that I’m some sort of navel-gazing idiot for saying the following, but it is true enough. The voice that pops up to try and stop me belongs to a four year old child. The voice comes from who I was before I was damaged. When the psychiatrist told me that my psyche/personality escaped fracturing, even though alas etc my mind didn’t, his words resonated and rang true. Not all of me, not everything about me, was swamped away and dessicated by the abuse.

Apparently there is an infamous suicide spot in the south of the UK, some very high chalk cliffs with the ocean swirling way below, and the police report that when the bodies are recovered quite a few of them have chalk under their fingernails – in other words – they jumped off into the abyss, slid down the slope, and then – too late – wanted to change their minds. My four year old voice simply stresses the fact that once you leap there is no coming back.

But the gap between the ideation and the act is thinner than a hairline. I am well aware that in what I am about to relate any of the circumstances could have proved terminal – a reflexive jerk on the trigger could just as easily have beaten the arising of my inner voice as not.

Flicker.

Flicker.

The only reason that my suicide ideation has not turned me into a raging daily alcoholic or drug addict is because I know that trying to totally blank out my mind simply doesn’t work. What is there is there before the drugs, it is there during the drugs, it is there after the drugs – it cannot be blotted out.

Flicker.

In the early 70s I worked at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville (as the Vietnam War was slowly grinding down). American servicemen threw on a BBQ for all the local staff and they took great delight in encouraging me to drink a skin-full to the point where I threw up and passed out. I ended up in Townsville hospital with alcohol poisoning. Those servicemen thought that sort of thing was a lot of fun, they couldn’t have known how much back then I welcomed the shutting down of my mind – it was only later that I learnt that it could not be shut down.

In Townsville in those days you got your driver’s license by driving around the block with a cop in your car – if you didn’t hit anything you got your license. A couple of weeks after getting that license I left Townsville to return to Brisbane. I learnt to drive on that trip. Somewhere just before Rockhampton a stretch of the highway was bordered on both sides by a long run of gum trees. Without thinking about things I found myself aiming my car at the trunk of a solid tree. Smack-city didn’t happen. My Hillman Imp was such a light little wonderful shit of a car it spun out on the gravel verge and slid without a scratch between two trees and plopped to a stop in some long grass. I sat there thinking ‘what the fuck just happened?’

In 1985, just after my son was born, I pressed the barrel of a rifle against my forehead (I had an unused rifle back then simply because many people had unused rifles back then), but then I hesitated because I thought it would all be a bit too messy, so I switched the barrel from my forehead to my mouth. I put my finger on the trigger. The rifle was a semi-automatic .22 with a magazine and a light-pressure trigger and I figured it would just go bang bang bang lights out. Even though I’m a pacifist I know the power of guns – in the earlier let’s train up the cadet kids for Vietnam days I had learnt to field strip and fire .303s, Bren Guns, and the rather deadly SLR. But the lights stayed on. I phoned a friend, she came around, removed the rifle, and the thought of ever owning a rifle again, forever from my life.

In 2004, when the tsunami was roaring into Indonesia, I stuck my head inside a gas oven. I don’t know how often you have ever phoned Lifeline with your head stuck inside a gas oven – but I did that afternoon. They talked sense into me and I pulled my head and my phone back out.

(I will not talk too much about the death of my dog Zoe in these matters – it is still very raw – when she died in 2016 I noosed-up a verandah railing and just sat there staring at the rope. It was a bastard of a day).

In 2018, after experiencing the loss of a valued relationship I lay on my bed repeating and repeating the fuckful mantra of ‘I want to die. I want to die. I want to die. I want to die’. The request was not heard in higher realms. The lights stayed on.

Also in 2018, specifically on the 3rd September 2018 – when I totally lost Executive Function (a friend filled me in on EF yesterday – no wonder I say that Survivors need advocates during their legal journeys) and melted down on Settlement Day – I sat on the verandah of the old farmhouse where I was living in isolation and just stared at the sky thinking ‘just fucking end it, just fucking end it’.

In 2019 I embarked alone on a 7,000 kilometre road trip out into the Australian Deserts – it was my first strong attempt to tackle my agoraphobia. Went to Broken Hill, Lake Eyre, Uluru. On a desert side track the car over-heated. As I sat there out in the heat and the glare while I waited for things to cool down the thought came into my head ‘Just walk off into the sand dunes. Who’d know? Who’d care?’ – the thought was that enticing I took nothing and walked about half a kilometre in before my inner voice kicked in and said ‘not now, not now, not this way.’

Those are just a few instances of many …

You might think that jeez his is a classic case of someone calling for help just before the light gets snuffed out. Well no, it was, and is, not like that at all. My undamaged inner voice tells me that suicide is not a beneficial act, my damaged (and far larger) inner voice tells me that suicide would be a sweet release from it all. My undamaged inner voice has won the skirmishes so far – so that little voice must have some fucking power attached to it.

My suicide ideation is a direct legacy from my childhood abuse experiences. It is very different from other reasonably normal thoughts of death – were I physically riddled with cancer and enjoying no quality of life I’d opt for voluntary euthanasia as a normal matter of course. But suicide ideation arising out of traumatic abuse experiences is very different to that – it is an imposed gift that just keeps on giving.

Flicker.

Flicker.

Every day it is in my mind that surely not being here must be better than being here. Such thoughts nibble away at me every day. The other night I was simply cooking a spag bol when tears came to my eyes and I thought ‘I just don’t want to be here’ – nothing external to me triggered the thought, it was just ‘there’. That I haven’t topped myself is no particular saving grace – the continual inescapable thought of not being here is not a particularly nice ‘feeling’ to be saddled with.

When my stark voice speaks I say that ‘they’, being the abusers, killed me. From an observational point of view I see that they committed a series of crimes against me, with one of those crimes being a form of unfolding pre-meditated manslaughter stretched out over a lifetime – quite a life sentence in many ways. I think a part of me just does not want to give the bastards any form of final satisfaction – and that’s why I am still here.

Flicker …

My voice is my voice, it speaks of me. I don’t know if other Survivors of childhood trauma carry my level of suicide ideation – they might carry a lighter or a heavier load. You will only find out by asking them.

Chapter 23: Poems from ‘not there’.

I have always liked to write. I can say things when I write that I am incapable of expressing when I speak. And these early sort of poems, they are a fair measure of how divorced and separate from life I felt back then. I felt invisible, I felt disengaged, unacknowledged, unloved, I felt ‘not there’ – nothing in the external world made much sense to me. To be fair to the earlier me, nothing much in the external world of the present era makes much sense to me either.

(1969)
CUBICAL OCCUPATION

empty walls
echo rippled nothings
as a ceiling fixes a permanent gaze
on a disinterested floor
as the door yawns for a
final closing hand
to share with the windows

(1972)
THE CITY

Drifting down a pavement
Nothing on my mind
Observing passing people lazily
What are their thoughts?
Their constant daily grind?
Their eyes are dead fixed constantly three feet behind my head

Chapter 24: A mini-thought in passing.

Is a ‘needy’ need for love and nurturing one of the legacy consequences of childhood sexual abuse? I think it can be. Over the course of my life such a thing must have drained the patience of my female partners down to the marrow of their very bones.

To be continued …

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JAGGED #6 – Mental Illness and the Law

Follows on from JAGGED #5

Chapter 16: Mental illness and the Law.

Have you, as a person who carries a permanent form of depressive mental illness, ever launched a legal case against the Catholic Church for damages? As a Victim/Survivor of institutionalised childhood sexual abuse I did so three years ago. It was not a lot of fun.

Anybody reading JAGGED knows by now why I carry that permanent form of depressive mental illness. In launching my action against the Church I sought justice, acknowledgement, compensation, and access to professional level remedial therapy. The Rolling Stones said it all – you can’t always get what you want – and in this case I certainly did not even remotely get what I needed.

In relating the following legal material I am aware that, no matter how badly I feel about what transpired, the best I can really do is relate the facts to you – both how I saw those facts unfolding, and how I felt about their impact on me …

When I initiated a claim against the Catholic Church for abuse suffered under their care at St Vincent’s Orphanage I had little idea how much that legal process would highlight the divide between what I am capable of handling in a rational-thought manner, and what I am incapable of handling in a rational-thought manner. The legal process brought that divide into very sharp focus because it so amplified the strength of my depression. The longer the case went on the less capable I became.

I am not a lawyer, the law is fog-city to me, so always bear that in mind. I am a Survivor (even though I do not like using that word) of childhood sexual abuse. As a Survivor who was exposed to some aspects of the law I would like to say some things about my legal experiences over the last few years.

I initiated the claim three years ago and now, looking back, I am pretty aware that I needed an advocate or advocacy organisation at certain points in the legal process to assist me to fully understand the consequences of some of the decisions that I was being asked to make. It is pretty hard for me to admit to something like that.

The legal process I entered into was pretty cut and dried. No Win No Fee. My lawyers were good, and further on I will tell you how very good they were, but they were not there to ‘tell’ me what to do, they were there to receive ‘instructions’ and then act upon them – which they did to the best of their ability.

If you refer back to Chapter 14 you will come to an understanding of what I was able to tell my lawyers about the abuse I had suffered at St Vincent’s Orphanage. I was able to talk of some things in a halting manner, but I was totally incapable at that time of speaking about matters such as the ‘visitation’ family and the abuse that had occurred there.

When you have a level of depression that shuts you down it is an impossibility to lay everything out coherently in a short space of interview time with a panel of solicitors and a barrister, no matter how sympathetic they are. It is only now, three years after the initiation of my claim and after exposure, via my legal case, to the influence of forensic psychiatrists, that I have found myself able to speak of certain things.

When people say that people like me should find their voice and speak up it needs to be realised that it takes an awful length of time to start speaking and it takes even longer to say everything that is there to be said. My form of depressive mental illness amplifies as I age and that has not been beneficial to my earlier efforts to open up and speak.

Chapter 17: The initiation of my claim against the Catholic Church.

On 8th February 2017 I spoke with Porters Lawyers (Canberra) and launched my claim against the Catholic Church for personal injuries suffered as a result of my being physically and sexually assaulted whilst I was a resident at St Vincent’s Orphanage, Nudgee (“the home”).

I thought that fairness would unfold, and that justice would be done. Babe in the legal woods stuff because little did I realise …

On the 3rd September 2018 a miserably beaten-down depressive wreck agreed to sign any sort of Settlement with the Catholic Church. Anything to stop the spiraling weight of my depression. As my barrister said to me on that day “they’ve just abused you again mate”. He was right, and I knew it.

Porters Lawyers, and the barristers they align with, are right up there in the good people stakes as far as I am concerned. You know, they could not possibly have known it at the time, and this is just a straight truth, their genuinely offered high level of moral support over that period pulled me back from many brinks where I thought it would just be easier to give life away. That is not a dramatic statement from my end, it is simply how things were.

Porters Lawyers were very efficient, and I am not trying to make this sound like an ad for them, rather, I am trying to make a distinction between the people who represented me, and the adversarial legal landscape that they and Survivors have no choice but to try and navigate.

So, while I am critical of that adversarial legal landscape Survivors face, I am not critical of how Porters Lawyers represented me. They steered my claim from conception to completion in under two years – which is apparently quite a feat in legal terms because most civil litigation claims take a longer period of time than that to reach Settlement.

I am very critical of the adversarial legal landscape that Victims/Survivors of childhood sexual abuse face when they initiate their claims because that legal landscape greatly amplifies deeply ingrained currently held traumas and legacies and then adds new layers of trauma as compounding overlays. That is no fun for the lawyers representing the claimant, and it is no fun for the claimant.

We all know that lawyers, and in my case Porters Lawyers, are not mental health professionals and nobody expects them to be – in my opinion they sought to minimise harm to me as a claimant as best they could – and it is hardly their fault that the power of my depressive illness/darkness caused me to crumple at the very time in my case when what was needed from me was a bit of strength. I wish that I’d had a personal advocate with me at that moment in time. But then, why the hell am I so critical of myself in this matter – because behemoths like the Catholic Church are well practiced in the psychological demolition of anybody who dares to stand up against them.

Chapter 18: Keith Edwin Davis vs The Catholic Church – yeah right!

Well, it was hardly a case of derring-do on my part and wonderful enlightened outcomes achieved as an end result I can assure you. A living example of the power of depressive mental illness stood up and pointed the finger at the Catholic Church and then promptly for his temerity got mentally steam-rollered as flat as a pancake as a result.

That last paragraph pretty much sums up how the whole of the legal process affected my mental state.

If anybody thinks that, in the legal setting, the Church is all love light and awareness and mindful of not re-traumatising the Survivor then some hard facts need to come your way.

Just before I lodged my claim a legal practitioner gave me the following warning …

“The Church will seek to demolish you, and your claim. Their lawyers, or others acting for them, will scrutinise every statement you have ever made on social media, they will dissect your work and private life, they will look for your weaknesses and they will exploit them ruthlessly. They will acknowledge nothing. Their aim is to make you buckle under the pressure and just simply go away.”

Mmm – and I had thought that the Church , after assessing me and the legacies I carry from my time in their care, would simply be fair and reasonable. There were many rough learnings ahead.

But what led me to initiating my claim?

It was not just one thing. It was the accumulation of many things and realisations over many years. Sure, the all pervading nature of my mental/depressive illness and being gutfully sick of it played a big part, as did the loss of relationships and work capabilities over the course of my adult life. But the period between 2008 and 2012 brought some hard truths to light for me. The accumulated affects and legacies of childhood sexual abuse wear you down over the years and decades to the point that your ability to function becomes dangerously eroded.

At the time I lost the ability to function effectively in the workplace and for years I ended up mired into a dependency on the welfare system. Centrelink, bless their hearts, made an appointment for me to see a mental health nurse. She was great, and she didn’t muck around, and she didn’t try to soothe me with any sort of stupid euphemistic language. She saw me as a flat out suicide risk – which I was.

I spent time with the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (CRS) and they managed to quiet my suicide ideation for a period. In 2013 I managed to pick up a permanent full-time job but my anti-authoritarian inclinations (I wonder, not, where those inclinations came from?) soon led to a parting of the ways between me and the employer. In rolled suicide ideation again.

So it was not just one single cathartic moment that led me eventually to initiate a claim against the Catholic Church. It was many things all added up together – and it still took a further five years from my time with CRS to find the oomph to initiate a claim.

When I phoned Porters Lawyers this thought was in my mind – “What happened to me when I was a child was wrong, it has affected my whole life. I want acknowledgement of what was done to me, and I want justice”. Neither of those wants was even remotely met by the Catholic Church.

Chapter 19: What does it take to reach Settlement with the Catholic Church?

It takes a gutting of your heart and soul is what it takes. During my legal journey I was well supported legally by Porters Lawyers. On the other side of the equation my claim was bitterly opposed by the Order of the Sisters of Mercy. Despite all the public protestations to the contrary by the Catholic Church that they care for the welfare of Survivors who were abused under their care – the brutal reality is that when a claim against them arises they go for the throat and try to demolish the claimant psychologically, and try to diminish or negate the claim.

I have to say that it makes me almost physically sick when I see representatives of the Catholic Church on television these days saying how much they ‘care’ for Survivors, and how much they wish to avoid re-traumatising the Survivor during any claimant proceedings. In the legal environment the nice words soon evaporate and the Church becomes nothing less than a vicious attack dog.

I did not have to justify the legitimacy of my claim. Unfortunately for me I was the living proof of the damage done by my childhood sexual abuse experiences and there was sufficient documentary evidence in existence to show same – yet the Church still automatically threw up their ‘go away’ wall and I assume that it was only when Justice Burns in the Supreme Court of Queensland made orders that I be given leave to lodge a Statement of Claim on 15 March 2018 that the Church started to sit up and take things a little more seriously.

As for the Church caring for the welfare of Survivors, well, over the whole two years of my claim I never once met with a representative of the Catholic Church, the Order of the Sisters of Mercy, or the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. No contact during the period of the hearing of the claim, no contact at Settlement time, and no contact post-Settlement. No acknowledgement of any form. Imagine what that does to the mindset of a person with a deep and permanent depressive illness? So don’t buy into the Church’s public PR on how they treat Survivors because it is absolute bullshit.

Everything about my whole legal process, in the end, came down to a few hours that unfolded on the 3rd September 2018 …

Chapter 20: 3rd September 2018 – demolition day.

It is easy, after an event, to try and re-spin things to make oneself look better, or braver, or more hard done by, or more together or more resolute and things like that. I don’t see much point in doing such things. Reality is reality. On 3rd September 2018 I fell apart mentally. It was bloody hard to self-behold.

And here’s the lead-up …

A requirement of the Personal Injuries Proceeding Act 2002 (Qld) states that in cases like mine the lawyers from both sides, my lawyers and the Church’s lawyers, have to attend a Compulsory Conference at certain staggered times. During those times the lawyers get to discuss the progress of the cases/briefs before them and, if all the necessary paperwork and legal requirements have been met, then the lawyers can then proceed to begin the process for some form of negotiated Settlement or even total negation of the claim, or acceptance that matters are going to move on to the Courtroom. That’s my understanding of what those Compulsory Conferences are all about – mediation sessions of a sort. Lawyers would probably describe them some sort of other way.

An important point to remember here is that I, as the client or claimant, was not invited to attend the conference or the mediation, either by myself or with a supportive advocate or advocacy organisation at my side. I can’t tell you why things are done that way, all I can tell you is that in my case that is the way it was done.

(The year and a half or so leading up to that Compulsory Conference fully re-immersed me in the trauma of what had happened to me as a child, and continually having to relate and relate details of the abuse, especially in the adversarial session with the psychiatrist hired by the Church, dragged me deeper and deeper into my depression. At one point I phoned a friend and asked him to talk me out of the idea of suicide – it is a very difficult thing to do to admit such a level of fragility as that.)

Over the course of an hour or so on the day of 3rd September 2018 I received a series of telephone calls from the barrister who was representing my case at the Compulsory Conference.

He did nothing wrong. He did everything right. He detailed everything that was unfolding in the conference room, and he detailed whatever offers the Church was making to settle the case. At each stage he asked me for a yes/no decision about what the Church was offering.

God knows what he made of my mumbled answers to it all. It was such a highly pressurised situation, conducted over the telephone, and I just did not know clearly how I should react and respond.

At my end it did not just represent an end-point to a time-limited legal process. At my end, on the telephone, it represented THE culminating moment in my whole life. A moment when I might finally receive some form of acknowledgement of responsibility from the Catholic Church for my lifetime of depressive mental illness and the legacies that I carry as a result of my childhood sexual abuse experiences.

There is nothing to hide here. On the 3rd of September 2018 I should have felt some form of positivity, but I didn’t. I’d never felt as bad as I felt on that day. If ever there is a case for arguing that a Survivor of childhood sexual abuse should have a personal advocate onboard during settlement negotiation proceedings then that day is it.

The Church made insulting offer after insulting offer. My barrister kept running back into the conference room to try and marginally improve matters. I don’t doubt that he could hear my confusion and my deterioration over the phone. He was the man who said to me – Keith – they are abusing you again!

I crumpled in, gave up, fell apart and asked the barrister to accept whatever the latest level of offer was. I felt like shit. The behaviour of the Church’s lawyers on that day confirmed that both they and the Church regarded me as nothing better than a worthless piece of shit. It was demolishing.

Since the 3rd of September 2018 the state of my mental well-being has deteriorated markedly.

Chapter 21: The Settlement.

I signed a Deed of Settlement with the Catholic Church in the matter of the abuse I experienced in St Vincent’s Orphanage while under the care of the Order of the Sisters of Mercy. I am legally restricted from telling you the details of that Settlement. But there are some things that I can say.

It was a very unsatisfactory and unfair Settlement. A strong man did not sign that Deed of Settlement, a broken man signed it, and the Church had achieved their aim. The fact that my solicitors post-settlement voluntarily dropped their fee level in order to top-up the compensatory segment of my Settlement should tell you everything you need to know.

Under Qld law it is possible, under certain circumstances, to apply to have Unsatisfactory Child Abuse Settlements signed under duress etc to be ‘set aside’. I am investigating what rights, if any at all, I have in that area – Civil Liability and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld).

The other more important matter of the abuse I experienced while under the care of the ‘visitation’ family (details contained in the latter part of Chapter 14) is not subject to any restriction or limitation imposed by the Deed of Settlement to my original Claim lodged on 8th February 2017.

I have only been able to very recently publicly disclose the facts of that abuse.

My placement with that ‘visitation’ family, which could only have occurred with the approval of my duty-of-care-bound care givers, in other words those who were responsible for my welfare as a State Ward, is a matter that was not included as part of the Claim that I lodged against the Catholic Church on 8th February 2017.

I have sought legal counsel on this matter this week and, at time of writing, I am awaiting legal advice, which always takes months and months, on the lodgement of a Claim for damages which will include a component for remedial therapy which, I hope, will arrest or mitigate the strength of my life-long depressive illness caused by my childhood sexual abuse experiences.

I am going to say something very rough here to all of those people who were paid by the Catholic Church to oppose my initial claim. For you the law is just a job. For you the law is just a game. For you the law is just about ‘winning’. For me, it is about the life that was taken away from me, it is about my very life. That you can look at yourselves in the mirror without throwing up is beyond my powers of comprehension.

That is all I have to say about these legal things. Engagement with the Catholic Church has been a dis-spiriting and damaging experience – it did not just re-traumatise, it added to the trauma. My advice to any Survivor who is considering treading the legal path that I am currently on is this – do not do it alone as I did – engage immediately with a personal advocate or advocacy organisation right from the start, I cannot understate the importance of doing so. From now on I’ll certainly be engaging that type of support.

To be continued …

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JAGGED #5 – The curse of intelligence.

Follows on from JAGGED #4

Chapter 15: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Not that one. This one!

Last time I said to you that this next Chapter would be about the Law as experienced by this voice from the world of childhood sexual abuse. I’ve changed my mind. The next Chapter will detail my legal experiences in full. This Chapter is about some other things.

The publication of Chapter 14 – the first time that my being has fully spoken of dark carried truths – flat out emptied me. Once I had completely put my abuse experiences down on paper I literally just sat in place on my lounge for three days before sending the Chapter through to AIMN. Oh, I did some normal things like have a cup of coffee or eat something, but largely I just sat there blank-minded. At the end of the three days I stood up, went over to my laptop, and hit the send button. Hitting that button, by far, is the hardest thing I have ever done by choice in my entire life.

JAGGED is an unfolding journey. I have not yet even mentioned my mother, that will happen, but just not yet. I have not yet mentioned how my childhood experiences affected my personal relationships with women when I became an adult, and I have not yet mentioned how much my working life was affected – all of that will come. I have not yet spoken of how important it was to me to become a father, and how scouring it was to realise that the strength of my love as a father to my children was matched by my ineptness.

I have not yet talked about how strange it feels to me that in the society that existed in Australia back in the 1950s and 1960s many male and female children, who actually still did have parents, ended up as state wards in religious orphanages. I have not yet talked about my older sister who died recently and who I never really got to know. She lived into her 70s, and my niece who I have only just recently met online informed me that her mother could never, despite loving encouragement, ever talk about her early orphanage experiences. Can you imagine that? A lifetime spent without being heard.

If you met me out there in the world in some sort of random way you would not have any sort of automatic insight that would help you recognise me as a Victim/Survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I don’t have a blinking neon sign on my forehead saying ‘ah, when you see my limitations there are reasons for it’. You’ll just meet a quiet and anxious man.

So far in this book I have wanted to give you context before I move on to writing about areas of life that are very important to me. I have wanted to show you what happened to me as a child and how it altered the workings of my mind. I really have wanted to give you a sense of ‘who’ is writing this book.

As I plopped along through life I never labeled myself as intelligent/average/slow, all I’ve ever really thought about all of that is that I think the way I think, and I think at a level that is no better or worse than the way anybody else thinks. Earlier I mentioned how a mental health professional assessed my intelligence level, and I’ll mention it again because there is something I want to say about that …

Psychological Assessment Report (GPAC) 14 March 2008: “Vocabulary and grammar skills were suggestive of .. intellectual functioning .. to above average range.”

Medicolegal Report 27 January 2018: “Mr Davis presented as a relatively intense and intrinsically sad person. His intelligence is above average, and could possibly be in the superior range. He is capable of thinking in a psychological manner.”

My point about all of that is this – nothing protects you from the ravages of childhood sexual abuse – being able to process at a certain cognitive level affords no protection whatsoever from the imposition of abuse legacies and does not grant any special internal ability to mitigate or transcend those legacies.

One is in a bit of a vice with this intelligence stuff. To have a mind that understands what happened to it, and how it was involuntarily changed, afforded me the benefit of a non-fractured psyche/personality. That is a good thing. On the other side of things – to have a mind that understands what happened to it and understands cognitively why that mind is highly unlikely to improve or repair is nothing short of a rolling curse.

I well remember the testimony interview David Hill (the ex-director of the ABC) gave a few years ago on television to recount, if I remember correctly, his child-migrant abuse experiences. That very successful man totally broke down when he spoke of his experiences. The experiences that I speak of in JAGGED have that power to demolish.

I do not have the ability to give verbal testimony of my experiences with coherence. If I try to speak with someone about my experiences I fold-in and cry and the muscles in my face uncomfortably twitch and roll under the skin. That is why I write about my experiences and my legacies – because that is the only real way I can ‘speak’ about them.

That I have the ability to understand the demolition process in my own case leaves me hanging on to the sharp blades of a cognitive double-edged sword. Gives me the shits!

to be continued …

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JAGGED #4 – My Darkness.

Follows on from JAGGED #3

Chapter 11: I believe you. I hear you. Your story should be told.

I believe you. I hear you. Your story should be told. How many people really mean that when they say it to a Victim/Survivor of childhood sexual abuse? In my experience very few, but a wonderful very few, actually really mean it.

After the Royal Commission into Institutionalised Childhood Sexual Abuse society picked up ‘I believe you. I hear you. Your story should be told’ as an appropriate and handy empathetic response to anybody who had finally built up the courage to blow the whistle on some very difficult child abuse beans. Society developed a rote sympathy response to quickly trot out when a voice from the world of childhood sexual abuse popped up and said I want to be heard. Such a response from society is pretty much like the social media button press of LIKE that people use to at least give the impression of interested engagement.

Even I will say that any response is better than no response at all, but I will also say that society’s rote response in these circumstances has the ultimate consequence of shutting the Victim/Survivor down. Think of it this way – the story of any Victim/Survivor of childhood sexual abuse is not a story that can be told, or heard, in a couple of minutes or seconds. It takes time to be heard, and to be listened to, and the contents of the factual story can at times be uncomfortable in the extreme. When a Victim/Survivor, after in many cases taking decades to build up to the point of asking to be heard, says ‘I want to be heard’ the attention of the listener soon swerves away when bitter truths start to unfold. It leaves the Victim/Survivor feeling dudded because they haven’t even got past finishing the first sentence of the story of their experiences.

Despite what I have just said I do not judge society too harshly for the rote response. I can understand that there are thousands upon thousands of Victims/Survivors out there who have finally built up the courage to want to be heard, and society would grind to a halt if everybody in society stopped long enough to truly listen.

AIMN has given me the opportunity to tell my story. They have given me the opportunity to be fully heard. I am going to tell my story – no matter how uncomfortable it is for the reader or for myself. My story contains bitter truths and confronting details. In testament form it shows the living of a damaged/blighted life.

In sending these couple of Chapters through to AIMN I have decided to speak of some things that I have never been able to speak of before. Confronting things. Many events have combined to put me in this space of stark openness – yes, this opportunity to be heard on AIMN, but also the valued input over the last decade of mental health workers (psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses), the lawyers of my legal team who gave me the opportunity to begin to speak, and to a dear friend who simply said to me ‘for you it is now time to just do it’.

More and more, as the writing of this book unfolds, I realise that, to be heard, I am trying to reach through to mental health professionals like psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health nurses. People such as that seek to intervene as early as they can to minimise the trauma legacies carried by victims of childhood sexual abuse. I have great admiration for the work that they do.

It must be very difficult for mental health professionals when they try to deal with a traumatised person who just cannot speak about what happened to them.

I wish that I had been able to talk with the professionals when I was younger – it could possibly have stopped the affects of my trauma/abuse becoming ingrained or habituated to the point of permanency. In my case there was no early intervention. It was simply not available to me. Had there been it may well have made a positive difference to the state of my mind and my well being over the course of my life.

JAGGED was never going to be a happy travelogue of joyous events in the life of a human being known as Keith Edwin Thomas Davis.

This book is about the untreated legacies I carry as a result of my childhood abuse experiences, and what those experiences have done to my mind. This book also seeks to cut through the euphemistic language used in media/society to describe the experiences of Victims/Survivors of childhood sexual abuse – the language used is soft, fuzzy, and designed to not confront. The experiences were harsh. The language I use to relate the experiences cannot be anything but reflectively harsh.

People seem to think that a ‘sorry’, or some sympathy, or or a small compensatory payout then makes things all good for Victims/Survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It does not. It makes no difference at all.

At sixty-seven years of age I am having to face up to a very difficult fact. To be told that, without massive professional intervention, the prognosis for the state of my mental health is very poor, and to be told that my depression is inescapable, is very hard to take. It worries me greatly because as I age I simply don’t have the necessary reserves of nervous energy left to contain the legacies of my abuse, and it is why I hope that mental health professionals read this book and do everything in their power to stop what is happening to me from happening to anybody else.

I don’t try to hide the fact from you, the reader, that my mind was damaged by my early experiences. My friends tell me that generally I come across as a quiet, thoughtful and polite man who never seems to smile much – it is not as if I walk around with a banner saying hey I wish my mind worked a little better. I use what I have as best I can.

I have done my best with that mind throughout my life. In the next Chapter I speak about one of my carried legacies, and soon I want to look at the legal and redress system that victims of childhood sexual abuse have to try and navigate. However, in chapter 14 I speak of the events that damaged my mind, and I would like to inform you now that Chapter 14 is raw and it contains some stuff that I have not been able to speak about before.

Chapter 12: Why don’t I see the non-verbal signals that are sent to me?

Medicolegal Report 27 January 2018: “He was not paranoid in attitude. He was not suffering delusions, hallucinations, or other symptoms to suggest a psychotic disorder of mind.”

Well there you go – there are some positives in this life!

I am going to try and describe something in this Chapter, and mental health professionals may well have some short latin or greek based term to describe it all. I only have the following words to describe it all.

I have very few friends, probably largely because I am not a social type of person. I don’t know how to be social. One of those very few friends happens to be my best friend – she is a living example of what the kernel of true friendship is all about – she knows me very well but despite having that knowledge she still likes me anyway. Well, thank the stars for that!

Yesterday, Sunday 5th July 2020, I sat in a local park with my friend and we had a very long conversation. We talked about our decades long friendship and some of the ups and downs that our friendship had experienced. As I mentioned in an earlier Chapter – this book is being written live – as thoughts swirl up around the rim of my consciousness I write them down – and then send them in to AIMN.

My friend told me that during downturns in our friendship in the past she had sent me plenty of huge skyrocket type signals that this or that aspect of our friendship either needed to change or was about to be changed. She could not understand, since I could walk and talk and think – sometimes even at the same time – why I didn’t appear to receive those signals very well. I tried to talk about the fact that not only did I not receive the signals very well, I talked about the fact that I did not even recognise, in the main, that any sort of non-verbal signals had been sent to me in the first place. From my point of view we had never had a conversation like the one we were having in that moment.

What it comes down to is this I think. I don’t have a non-verbal signal de-coder that works as well as it should – one that fully interprets mood or emotion accurately in another person. I don’t read faces very well, I don’t read the emotional signalling of another person very well, I don’t pick up on the hints and clues that are apparently flying around my ears very well. So when the long hinted at change finally happens I always feel as though a B52 has, out of the blue, dropped a stack of ordinance on me from a very great height. Must be quite frustrating for the person who, via non-verbal signalling, has been trying to make the obvious very obvious to me. I think that faulty non-verbal signal de-coder affects my personal relationships and did greatly affect my working life.

All of the above probably explains why I read a lot. I am a voracious reader of just about anything I can get my hands on. Reading about characters/human beings in books and how they react in various situations allows me to accumulate data-sets in my mind that I can call on when I am in conversation with another person. It helps me to guess which appropriate response suits which occasion. Because I don’t personally feel such things as happiness or joy very well a lot of reading about such things is of assistance in some social situations.

All of this is quite difficult to describe, and in conversation with my best friend last Sunday I, for the first time in that almost thirty year friendship, made the effort to describe it. It was worrisome at the time because I was afraid of being judged or thought strange. I don’t often show ‘me’. Anyway, all’s good, my friend did not fall from the park bench in shock.

The above probably also explains why my conversation is intense and lacking the social graces of small talk. In conversation I often ask people how they are feeling, I ask that a lot in order to get some feedback on how they are feeling because I don’t quite pick up on the visual clues that they are signalling or sending out. I generally can only get a sense of who a person is by – as silly as it sounds – asking them. My sensing ability is a bit of a shot duck.

So, it is not as if I do not have a non-verbal signal de-coder. I do have one. If somebody rushes at me with an axe I’ll be out of there pronto without bothering to hang around and asking them how they ‘feel’ at that moment in time. But in other areas of life my de-coder fails to live up to the intended specifications.

To get through to me people have to talk to me in very clear, unambiguous, and literal terms – I like you, I don’t like you, what you just did makes me happy, what you just did does not make me happy, I want to end the conversation now, I want to talk with you for hours, I desire you, I do not desire you, I feel sad, I feel happy – all of that sort of spoken stuff I can receive, and understand easily enough. Seeing that stuff in signalling non-verbal form on your face doesn’t always get through though.

About a year or so ago another of my few friends asked me flat out where I sat on the Autism Spectrum. That kind of rocked me back a bit because I’d never even thought of that. Here are some of the characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder (from the usual place – Google):

  • problems with social interaction with others
  • unusual interest in objects.
  • need for sameness.
  • great variation in abilities.
  • under or over reaction to one or more of the five senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, or hearing.

On the surface all of that could seem to be a fair description of me. I’m not socially adept. I have an old military compass that I think is one of the most fascinating objects I have ever seen – with it in my symbolic hand/mind I can get just about anywhere – and quite accurately too. Anything good that comes my way I want it to stay good, I want it to stay the same, I put very little effort in trying to ‘change’ anything. As for abilities – one day I can generate up an intellectual storm in my own teacup – the next day I’m flat out tying up my shoelaces. As for the under or over reaction thing – I am fully hyper-sensitive to what I see, to touching or being touched, to hearing discordant things, to smells that jar. But taste, at least, is not on my list.

Despite the fact that a shallow assessment of me could quite easily place me somewhere on the Autism Spectrum I can assure you that I don’t sit on that particular Spectrum at all. There is not a whiff of autism hovering over any part of my being.

What I have is a fucked visual signal de-coder.

When I was young I learned to not see what I was looking at. To simply survive I had to learn to not see what I was looking at. When I looked at the angry face that went on to punch or rape me I had to learn to not see what I was seeing. That might sound strange to you but it makes an awful lot of sense to me. Standing aside from my abuse experiences – I have an enquiring mind, I am curious about everything, I look at things, objects, people, very directly – I’m not rudely staring when I do that, I am simply gazing directly at what is in front of me in an enquiring manner.

So, it comes down to this. My enquiring mind does not allow me to drop my eyes away from anything – that enquiring mind naturally wants to see, and know, and understand. But – then throw in seven years of sustained abuse, abuse that my mind was incapable of looking away from … and so here we get to the nub of it …

I saw things no child should ever see, things that no child who has ever existed should ever have to see. I saw the rapes of self being perpetrated, I saw my own traumatisation happening to me, I saw the flying-in of violence directed at my being. I could not look away, I could not, and would not, and did not have the capability to drop my eyes.

In that circumstance, in order to survive, what can a young mind possibly do? It learned to not see some of the things that it had no choice but to see. That’s the best explanation my mind can give you.

It has left me as a socially inept adult who cannot for the life of him see that the majority of the non-verbal clues signalled out towards me by other adults do not have harm as an inevitable follow through attached to them. The wiring of my mind changed to the extent that my mind simply refuses to process or de-code anything that my eyes see that my mind thinks will be any sort of threat to my being or existence. Gives me the absolute shits to be this way, because most people tell me that they wish me no sort of harm at all – but my mind simply refuses to process some of the things that my eyes see, and it confuses itself with what non-verbal signalling is harmful and what non-verbal signalling is not harmful.

This book is about the enduring legacies of sustained childhood sexual abuse experienced over an extended period. This Chapter looked at one of those legacies.

Chapter 13: A bummer of a burden.

I forget if it was a psychiatrist or a psychologist who told me the following, but I do remember that it was not said by the new age therapist who waved crystals over my being back in 1994 – she guaranteed, for the princely sum of $80, that if I gazed with rapture up at the spinning orbs, and threw in a bit of meditative chanting as well, all would be forever good. If I had that $80 back now I’d spend it with a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

Here’s what was said …

“There is a slight trouble with how your mind works. It leaves you carrying a burden. You understand what happened to you. Your mind understands how it was changed by those experiences. You also understand that I cannot really help you, or change anything much for you.”

I started to use the word bummer a lot after that.

Chapter 14: St. Vincent’s Orphanage. The Catholic Family. My Darkness.

Medicolegal Report 27 January 2018: “It is always wise in the medico-legal setting to try and determine if a plaintiff has given a self-serving history, or has feigned (malingered) symptoms. I do not believe that either will apply in Mr Davis’ case.”

Thank you to Psychiatrist Johnathan Phillips. The power of being believed, the respect you showed me by being very honest and direct, your summation of why I am the way I am, all of that has made some difference in my life.

So … the section called My Darkness further down contains confronting truths that I have been incapable of speaking about before.

At the end of 1957 I was a five year old kid. My family had recently broken up and I became a State Ward and I was placed into orphanage care under the dual auspices of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane and the Order of the Sisters of Mercy.

I was tall for my age apparently. Blond haired. Blue eyed.

Within the space of twelve months or so I was subject to oral rape by an adult male. He smothered my airways with his erect penis and he punched me into silence. A nun allowed him into the room so she was collusive in the act as far as I am concerned. Who I was faded right there and then.

A couple of years later I went into the sacristy of the orphanage church to take off my Altar Boy clothes. I was grabbed from behind, punched repeatedly, and was then anally raped by a catholic priest. There was no lead up, there was no grooming.

After the anal rape I was scared and I hid my dirty shorts (dirty with blood, semen, and shit) in the communal clean clothes cupboard. A monitor nun found my dirty shorts, probably by the smell they gave off, and confronted me with the evidence. She called me a dirty little shit and beat me repeatedly with her heavy leather belt. I can still feel the force of her back-hand. She then locked me into the darkness of the cupboard as punishment. When I try to talk about the darkness my eyes tear up and my heart hurts and I lose my way …

This is now the next day. I’ve had a day away from what I wrote yesterday.

Life in the orphanage was very hard. There was no love there. The mental cruelty from the nuns was not a standout occasional thing – it was always just there as a background thing. Whether it was a punch, or a back-hand, or a whip of their belt, a push, or an angry staring put-down, or a sarcastic comment – it made me feel as though I was worthless and deserving of what was happening to me. The catholic god in the church of the orphanage told me that the good don’t get punished, only the bad get punished. I could not escape the punishment so I must have been very bad. I believed that I was bad.

There must have been days in the orphanage when nothing bad happened to me. Why can’t I remember those days?

You know, for most of my life I could not talk about the things above. They hovered there in front of me and I could not articulate them. But finally being able to articulate them over the last few years has brought the other layers of darkness up into some sort of hover position. I want to articulate what other events played their part in creating the darkness.

But it is so hard. How do you speak from the void? How do you put into words what cannot be put into words? The darkness I talk about can only be felt.

I am now going to take a risk. For me a huge risk. I thought, if I was able to do it at all, that I would do it towards the end of the book, the safety of that vague as-yet-unwritten region that exists towards the end of a book. But it has to start to happen now.

The rapes above were not the only rapes I experienced. I have never been able to talk about the other rapes I experienced. The mental cruelty above was not the only mental cruelty I have experienced. I have never been able to talk about the other mental cruelty. I’ve been flat out trying to cope, admittedly not very well, with the experiences listed above.

As a matter of course, and it probably happened to many of the orphanage kids, and it could only have been done with the approval and the blessing of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane and the Order of the Sisters of Mercy, I was loaned out to various Brisbane catholic families on occasion – probably to try and socialise me into whatever family life was supposed to be way back then, or possibly as a way for the family to assess me as a possible future foster kid.

No doubt, at some point, I must have spent time with a good and safe catholic family. But a time such as that is not in my memory. Why can’t I remember that?

What is in my mind/memory is the ‘family’ who spoke with an accent, I think they were of Mediterranean background as they sometimes ate raw mince balls with an olive oil coating – and they were the paedophilic male and female bastards who, along with the nuns and priests at the orphanage, finally terrorised me permanently into the depths of my depressive illness/darkness.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane and the Order of the Sisters of Mercy were responsible for my safety. They had a duty of care towards me. I hold them personally responsible for what was done to me, not only in the orphanage, but also when they approved my placement with that visitation family.

Three years ago I could not tell my lawyers this, three years ago I could not tell my psychiatrist this, I was flat out trying to tell them what I was able to speak of. The whole three years of my claim against the catholic church have only now created a space in 2020 where I can begin to talk of some terrible things.

To put things in perspective. Between 1957 and 1964: I was anally raped by men more than once – three times that I am fully aware of. I was orally assaulted by men more than once – twice that I am fully aware of. I was molested by the same woman more than once. Those physical things did not happen to me every day – they happened to me at certain points in time over a seven year period when I was under the care of the Order of the Sisters of Mercy. The mental cruelty is something different, it happened more often. I try to keep these things in perspective because around the world there are child-brides who are subject to the same or worse on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis – and around Australia there are women who are subject to domestic violence and who are abused and killed each and every week. What happened to me did not physically kill me. My body recovered from it. My mind did not.

Right now I am angry. For the sake of fucking mercy how are these things ever allowed to happen to a child. To any child.

My Darkness.

Do you remember when I said “The top layer is say nothing, and I have spent the majority of my life at that level. The second layer, the layer that Psychiatrist Johnathan Phillips dug into so well, is speak of what you can, and speaking of what I can has been unfolding over the last three or four years or so. The third layer holds what cannot yet be spoken of – the bastard stuff – the darkness.”

So … and my fear is running rampant right now …

Have you ever been thrown by an angry woman into a dark locked chicken coop on a cold night with your body smeared with chook shit and feathers? Have you ever scraped the top of your fingers trying to pull through the wire to escape while she stood there and laughed at you? Have you ever been anally finger-raped by a woman while her other hand reaches around to fondle your genitals? Have you ever had the living daylights smacked out of you because you did not rake the yard correctly? Has a smelly old man ever molested you and then tenderly rocked you to sleep while he cries and tells you that he loves you and thinks that you are beautiful? Does the smell of garlic sometimes make you want to vomit? Have you ever lived in a world where such things are deemed normal by the perpetrators and of no great consequence? Did you stand still and say nothing when they showered you and cleaned you up and returned you to the orphanage and then made arrangements for you to visit again?

Have you ever been in a room where the other two people in the room just sit there and stare at you? Have you ever been in a room where one of those people decides that it is their turn to molest you? Have you ever been in a room that you cannot escape from? Have you ever been in a room with crucifixes up on the wall and with statues of the Madonna on the shelves? Have you ever been in an inescapable room where, just outside the house or just down the street normal people are just going about their normal happy business without any sort of idea what is happening in that room? Have you ever been returned to the orphanage and hit by a nun because you would not speak or stand in line or listen to anything?

None of that killed me physically, my body recovered. But it scarred my mind. It damaged it. My mind never recovered.

My mind is trying to find the words to speak, it is not easy. My time with that ‘family’ was the final ending of me. There was no safety in the orphanage. There was no safety with that family. There was no safety. It shut my spirit down.

You might read this book and think – oh well, at least he can scribble out a few words. But words don’t tell you how all of this feels to me. Words don’t tell you what being in my locked-down dark universe feels like. Words don’t tell you what a depression that you cannot escape from feels like. Words don’t tell you how difficult it is, and how it feels to describe the life of a person who never felt ‘there’ in his own life. Words don’t tell you how it feels to see your son walk away from you because he cannot reach you. Words cannot tell you how it feels to be anxious and scared all of the time. Words don’t tell you anything much about it at all.

Words don’t tell you how it feels to be an observer of, and an incapable participant in, your own life.

In 2019, a friend and I visited the Port Arthur penal settlement in Tasmania. I asked her to stand with me in support in the Isolation Cell of the Separate Prison. The cell was small, cramped, and no light could get in. I wanted to confront my imposed demons. I wanted to try to feel courage.

When we left the Separate Prison a few minutes later and walked down a path in Port Arthur this then 66 year old man totally broke down and cried. My mind came up with all sorts of incoherent reasons for the breakdown.

I now know this about that moment in time. When the door of the Isolation Cell closed there was no confrontation. I felt safe. It felt like home.

I felt safe. It felt like home.

This comes from the third layer of me. Standing on that path in Port Arthur I realised the depths that my childhood sexual abuse experiences had dragged me to. It is unspeakable, unspeakable, to realise that the only form of comfort finally left to me is the ‘safe’ nothingness of my own inescapable depressive illness. That is what I mean by my darkness – the recognition of it is why I broke down.

Don’t feel sorry for me. If you are a mental health professional please think deeply about these things – please think deeply about that last paragraph – please intervene early with your childhood sexual abuse patients – do everything in your power to not let them end up where I find myself.

The body recovers. The mind does not. My mind did not recover. The help that it needed, the help that might have made a difference, was not available to me when I was younger. To see that my mind cannot recover from the abuse is a living blow. That is the primary enduring legacy of my childhood sexual abuse experiences.

Chapter 15: First attempt to achieve justice via civil litigation against the Catholic Church.

This will be the first Chapter in my next installment for AIMN. Because of the genuinely given high level of moral support provided to me by Porters Lawyers (Canberra) when I initiated my claim against the Catholic Church in Queensland – I am still here today, and writing this book – that is a truth, and a thank you to the Porters Lawyers legal team that I do not want to understate. The legal process itself and the response from the Catholic Church over that period, drove me to the edge.

To be continued …

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JAGGED #3 – Addictions: Guzzle and suck.

Follows on from JAGGED #2

Chapter 6: No rock to hide behind. But the heavy stones remain unturned.

Medicolegal Report 27 January 2018: “Mr Davis presented as a relatively intense and intrinsically sad person. His intelligence is above average, and could possibly be in the superior range. He is capable of thinking in a psychological manner.”

Ah, I think about what could have been, I think about it a lot

Throughout this book I will occasionally quote segments from a Medicolegal Report written about me by consultant psychiatrist Dr Johnathan Phillips in 2018. I initially saw him in Brisbane, then at his request my legal team flew me down to Sydney for a further consult.

Dr Jonathan Phillips (MB BS FRANZCP) is involved in three significant professional activities: consultant advice to health services and other bodies, clinical psychiatry and medicolegal psychiatry. In January 2013, Jonathan was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to mental health as a forensic psychiatrist, particularly through contributions to professional organisations. In private practice in Sydney, Jonathan is also involved in the preparation and delivery of the Masters Program in Forensic Mental Health, University of New South Wales.

In other words he is big guns. He is the only professional level person in the area of mental health who managed to reach past the top layer and through to the second layer of me, and from my end he appeared to do it so easily.

When I arrived in Sydney the day of the consult I had a bit of spare time so I walked up to the Opera House and had a look at the harbour. It made me think about a couple of things.

I was born in Sydney. The first four years of my life were spent in Sydney. Before things. Before things happened. So who was that little person? What was he like? Was I a bright and happy child, was I an annoying little shit, was I both of those things or something else entirely? I’ll never know.

But I do know this. Whatever natural trajectory I would have had, whatever nascent potentials I may have possessed, were snuffed out by the rapes and the beatings that were to come.

During the consult I was asked if there was any more abuse that I had not previously detailed for the medicolegal report. I simply gave a frightened no as my answer and I don’t think that I am piss-weak for having done that. The top layer is say nothing, and I have spent the majority of my life at that level. The second layer, the layer that Johnathan Phillips dug into, is speak of what you can, and speaking of what I can has been unfolding over the last three or four years or so. The third layer holds what cannot yet be spoken of – the bastard stuff – the darkness.

Chapter 7: Brain-box blown up by Japanese bombs man.

On ANZAC day this year (2020) I sat in front of the TV in full bored-drone out of my skull mode. I was thinking that none of the damaged veterans who think that war is shit were given centre stage over the course of the televised day. Well, they never are, are they? And then something happened that made me think very specifically about one particular Australian war veteran.

As I watched the TV on that ANZAC day a documentary film that only ran for a minute or so flashed across the screen. It showed Japanese bombers scooting over Port Moresby harbour over two days in 1942 and it showed their bombs flying down and blasting the cargo motor vessel the MV Macdhui all over the place, and on the second day eventually sending it where sunk ships go. I sat there viewing a moment of shattering violence captured on film. I sat there absolutley stunned and frozen. All my lost years, and all of the abuse, flashed up and I realised that the start point of all that – the single very moment in time that set future consequence in train – was undeniably playing out on documentary film right in front of me.

That documentary film ripped my guts out and spiralled me way, way back, into the past. It took me back into a time that existed a decade before I was born. A lot subsequently flowed from that moment in time. It played a part, a seminal part, in my eventual placement in St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage.

How so? Well somebody who was part of the crew on the MV Macdhui that day in 1942, ten years before I was born, was a man by the name of Keith Edwin Davis. My father.

I have no memory at all of my father from my very early childhood years. As an adult I met him in Darlinghurst in Sydney for one day, just one day, in April 1989. How many days/years/decades did you get with your father? I got one day.

And I got that day through no effort whatsoever on my part. After leaving the orphanage, completing high school, becoming a young adult, and reaching the age of thirty-seven years, I never once thought about trying to find my parents or to see if they were even still alive. I now think it quite strange that I never once thought about my parents when I was a young adult. My mind just did not generate the thought. They did not exist in my mind.

But my older sister’s mind did generate the thought (I have three siblings, I was the youngest, I was four years old when the family split up) and she found my father. He wrote to me and I arranged to drop down to Sydney from Brisbane to see him.

I remember that on the drive down I was feeling disquieted by the fact that I wasn’t feeling anything at all about the looming meeting. Surely in a circumstance such as that one should be feeling something? Love/hate/curiosity/hope/yearning/pissed off/ tearful/happy/sad/why didn’t he bother to try and find me/why was I dumped in the first place? But I felt nothing, nothing at all, and now looking back, I guess I was in emotional freeze-frame mode.

I knocked on his door. He opened it. Without a moment’s hesitation we fell into each others arms. A damaged lovely father/man embraced his damaged lovely son/man. The only emotion that we both felt in that confronting moment of time was love. It still blows my socks off when I think about it.

We spent the day together. Drank far too many rieslings. And he talked about two days in 1942.

On the first day, when the Japanese bombs hit the MV Macdhui, he was blown into the air and when he came back down his head collided solidly with a railing. On the second day, when the bombs finished off the Macdhui, he was blown high into the air again and when he landed his head was smashed against the deck. He told me that he was never the same after that. He was never happy again, he was never himself again, and from that moment on he struggled with many things.

On ANZAC Day 2020, on television, I saw the exact moment when the bombs hit the
MV Macdhui. I saw the exact moment when my father’s ability to be fully there as a future father was violently torn from him by the vagaries and violence of war.

I never saw him again after that day. He died a few months later from throat cancer.

Chapter 8: The Tattoo and other lighter things.

On my left shoulder I have a tattoo of the Celtic Tree Of Life. It reminds me of the inter-connectedness of life. It reminds me that an event happening over there causes a ripple to happen over here. It reminds me how rippled I am by the litany of abuse events that happened earlier in my life. But most of all, when I look at it, it reminds me that whoever I am is still here in some form. Still alive.

Which has nothing to do with the bit of lightness I sort of promised you a while ago.

When my being gets to experience that occasional brief foray up into sweet clear air I like to write. I write because that is an easier way for me to communicate with you. I write far better than I speak. To converse with you face to face however means that I have to force myself to go out, I have to force myself to fight agoraphobia, I have to find a public face that I hope is suitable for the occasion – and more often than not I cannot dredge up enough energy to sustain something like that for anything more than a short span of time.

Next Chapter I’ll be bang back into the key-locked universe of abuse that my mind lives in. I’ll look at drug addiction and alcoholism. I want to look at those issues. I want to think about those issues. But for now, right now, I would like to share with you something that I wrote. A bit of lightness? It is either about the Fermi Paradox, or it is about climate change, or it is about both of those things.

From Wikipedia: The Fermi paradox, named after Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi, is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence for extraterrestrial civilizations and various high estimates for their probability.

Cosmic Follies and the Race for Space.

(published on AIMN September 4, 2019).

When carried on the wind, and when afforded the passage of uncounted millennia of time, even the soft red dust of the planet had sufficient ablative power to erode down the strongest of the Alien’s structures. Had we arrived a million years later, which is nothing in the cosmic scheme of things, in all likelihood, there would have been nothing left to study, or learn from.

Had we arrived two million years earlier we would have met them.

Bittersweet. That is the only way to describe our feelings when we first discovered the remnants of this space-faring civilisation. In our journeys throughout this galaxy, we had never, ever, seen any evidence that any other species had become post-atomic, or had clawed their way up the gravity well in a lasting sense. Yet here we were, on this small dusty red planet, looking at the evidence such as it was, and we had missed a face to face meeting with them by the smallest mere speck of time. Bittersweet.

But enough of such musings. As a Space Archaeologist, I have a job to do, and a report to write. If death and taxes were once perennial in our embodied era, the need to publish as First Author, and gain and retain resources, is still a must in the current one.

Report to the Senate Select Committee on Civilisation Number 3,113: Another example of Cosmic Folly in the Race to Space.
Principal Author: Identity 756
Co-Authors: Identity 832. Identity 184.

Source of information: Crystalline Data Cubes x 6. Located in a lined and once inhabited lava tube below Alien Base A. Called A simply because it was found first. AI Identity 184 managed the de-coding of the Alien’s digital records and a translation of same into our language.

Data from the Cubes is comprehensive. It details evolutionary history of the species, the rise of their civilisation from one-cell through to the level of multi-cell, the attainment and management of technological sophistication, and it also provides the timeline of their development of rocketry and their ultimate achievement of the prize of inter-planetary travel.

Their species was homogeneous, of one single type only, though they did adopt the artificial construct of ‘differing out’ on such matters as melanin content, and on a matter that they called Political Ideology. Prior to their demise, the Aliens had not achieved disembodiment, or transition through to absolute sentience as AI.

Prior to delivering the full body of the Report, I would like to present the following as an Executive Summary. It speaks for itself and is a direct translation from a digital video segment on sub-level 32 on Data Cube 4.

Mars Base Plymouth, Olympus Mons. 19th September 2045. Daily log. Security Classification Level: “Seriously? Who is left to care?”

“My name is Harald Jacobsen. I am a Human Being. I am the last surviving member of the Mars Joint Mission Number 15. I will run out of oxygen in two days time. I am well aware that no other human beings will hear my words. There are, no longer, any other human beings. My words are for those who may follow, who may one day come into and explore this Solar System.

I am not a technical expert, I am not a scientist, I am a plumber. And whoever you are who follows on from us, I am all you’ve got. All you’ll get is my view of things. But where to start?

Living and working in Space had always been my dream, and gaining a position on the multi-national Mars Base Plymouth maintenance team was that dream realised. The commercialisation of Space had largely been achieved in a cooperative manner. The Chinese, Americans, Europeans, Russians, and Indians largely stuck to a collegiate approach. The minor fracas over equitable access to the frozen water at the base of some of the Moon’s craters was settled satisfactorily by arbitration.

The scientific community, largely funded by governments, sought to explore and understand Space. The industrial community driven by private entrepreneurs sought to exploit it, especially the mineral resources in the asteroid belt. But tensions between the two were held to a manageable level. Bases were set up on the Moon and Mars, and exploratory missions were planned to explore the planets and moons further out in the solar system.

In many ways, we had it all. As a civilisation, we had managed to escape our planetary cradle, the birthplace of our species. We now had one egg in three baskets. If such a thing is possible we had ensured the survival of our species. Let’s face it, it was highly unlikely that one massive rogue asteroid could wipe out Earth, the Moon, or Mars, all in one go.

The Arms Race in Space was a bit of a worry though. So much happened in that area so quickly, and all of the space-faring nations dived in and played their part in ringing the planet with nuclear mega-tonnage. So it is a little hard to just point the finger at any one country, they all contributed to the craziness.

Somewhere in the Data Cubes no doubt you’ll find many Technical Papers that describe the reaching of the climatic tipping point on our home planet, Earth. We didn’t stop crapping in our own nest soon enough is this layman’s view of it all.

Despite the many warnings, we kept shooting foul gases up into our own atmosphere. We thought we had decades, a century even, to clean up the mess. We were wrong. The times of crisis, the point of critical mass, arrived in a rush. It felt as though Earth herself was saying that ‘I’ve simply had enough’. She bumped up the temperature by more than a notch.

But it was survivable for us as a species. We evacuated our coastal regions to avoid the rush-in of the mega-hurricanes, and the sea level rise caused by the total meltdown of the planet’s glaciers and ice sheets. We migrated to the sweet spot latitudes to escape the encroachment of the inland drought-induced deserts, and we emigrated to the continent of Antarctica.

But the common folk were not part of the ‘we’ who did those things. It was the powerful and the rich, and their attached national military forces, who grabbed and defended for themselves those safe havens.

Water refugees, sea level rise refugees, heat refugees, food refugees, were all turned back to their terminal fate.

Here on Mars, and on the Moon, we watched it all unfold. We had our own concerns, because we were still at least a decade away from achieving full self-sufficiency. We still relied heavily on re-supply missions from Earth.

And then the wave of Nuclear Suitcase Bombs happened in the safe havens. And then, in retaliation, big red buttons were pressed. And pressed again. And pressed again. And so it unfolded, and so it all ended.

The madness did not migrate to the Moon or Mars. Perhaps the button-pressers simply ran out of missiles. We managed to eke out our dwindling supplies for a bit but they were finite, and they have now run out. My last fellow human being died yesterday. There are three bottles of oxygen left.

When you folk from a future time study our species you’ll probably wonder about a few things.

Like: how can a species ignore such high-level evidence pointing to human-induced degradation of climate and atmosphere? How could a species so successfully stick their heads into the sands of deniability as the evidence mounted, and mounted, and mounted?

And: you’ll probably wonder at the level of self-species hatred that we carried. At first, we threw rocks at each other. Then we threw spears. Then we hacked with swords and shot with bullets. Then we used cannons and bombs. Then nuclear-tipped missiles. The voices of destruction defeated the voices of peace. We wiped ourselves off the face of planet Earth. No doubt you’ll wonder how any sentient species could have done that to itself.

Was it truly all like that? Well, I’m the last voice left, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Mine are the last set of human eyes that will ever observe the heavens, and I’m pretty pissed off because being the last Human was never supposed to be part of my job description.

Do I have any famous last words to share? No, I do not. Unlike the main character in Andy Weir’s 2011 book The Martian, there will be no happy ending for me. There are no potatoes.

I’m Human. I’m alone. I’m scared.”

Comment from Principal Author AI Identity 756

I will use Human Alien nomenclature in this summary. The full report follows on from this.

Humanity was a low-level civilisation, and just like the 3,112 other failed civilisations we have studied thus far in the galaxy known by the Aliens as the Milky Way .. they were hardly unique. They succumbed to the same self-destructive drive as the others. They never managed to become post-nuclear, or post-war, and they killed off their own habitat, and ultimately their own species.

Humanity called our home galaxy Andromeda, or NGC 224. The latter name has a nice ring to our ears. From there we have sent out many exploratory missions into neighbouring galaxies. The result has always been the same. Unfortunately, I cannot yet supply an answer to the Senate on the question that we have asked ourselves over and over again … Does lasting intelligence exist anywhere, or are we, as we fear, truly alone in the Universe?

Chapter 9: Addictions – guzzle and suck.

What is an alcoholic? What is a drug addict? Are you one? Am I one? Who gets to judge these things?

If there is no alcohol in my place I don’t think about it. If there is alcohol in my place I drink it. I don’t wake up in the morning pegging for a drink. If a bottle of wine is in front of me I will finish it. When I have a drink it does not make life better. When I don’t have a drink it does not make life better. When the pain within surges (when the movie jumps into high flicker mode and I think of suicide) I drink. When the pain of my childhood abuse stays at a usual high but stable level I don’t drink.

Sometimes I drink too much. Sometimes I don’t drink enough. Sometimes I don’t drink at all.

Whoever said I have brains where all of this contradictory addiction stuff is concerned? I drink at times to stop myself from killing myself – go figure – I’d have thought that someone in my condition having a drink could well lead me to killing myself but it doesn’t. I don’t drink at times simply because I don’t think of it. So that’s where I sit with alcohol – a stack of contradictions.

Drugs. I’m definitely a nicotine addict. I know that smoking at best will give me cancer and at worst it will kill me. Smoking is not a wise thing to do. Is smoking a more acceptable though highly expensive less messy form of suicide? When I smoke a cigarette I know that it is doing me harm. When I finish that cigarette that I know is doing me harm only a small amount of time elapses before I rush in and light another. I don’t do that because I think it is fun. I do that because I am desperate for comfort. Heaping self-harm on all of those earlier years and layers of imposed abuse- harm. How is something that is going to kill me give me comfort? That sucking action – do I miss the comfort at my mother’s breast – the safe years? Contradictions rule.

As far as other drugs are concerned I have certainly tried marijuana. It did me no good at all. In my hippie phase I thought it went with the territory and the mask. I remember back in 1975 I was in New Zealand and I tried to steam open a buddha stick of hash resin over a kettle and promptly bombed-up my brainbox – spent hours after that trying to duck all the malicious technicolour rabbits that were leaping out of the curtains at me. Did me no good at all. Dope would have steered me down the path to pure fucking craziness. Tune in and drop out? If I’d persisted with dope I’m pretty sure I’d have tuned in fully to carried horrors and dropped out permanently as a result.

I’ve never tried the so-called harder drugs such as heroin or ice – not because I am a good and upright and never ever does anything wrong sort of person – but simply because I know that for me there would never be any sort of coming back from that first rush and hit of pain-free bliss/nirvana.

Society’s view of what a hard drug is seems quite hypocritical to me – alcohol and tobacco do by far the most harm, the damage they cause clogs up our health system. But they are legal and bring in a lot of tax for the government.

The addictions I have do not all fully control me. On the other hand I don’t fully control all the addictions that I have. It is a vibrating high-wire that can off-chuck a body in any direction at any time.

My childhood abuse experiences teeter me to addictive precipices. But, so far so good!

Chapter 10: Are they having us on with that Redress bullshit?

Religious politicians. Religious institutions. Quite a deadly combination. A great combination for watering down Royal Commission recommendations and setting up a second-rate Redress Scheme. Saves churches and other abusive mobs heaps of cash. That one is worth exploring later.

So is this one. The body recovers from the abuse. The mind does not.

Before I dive into the next few Chapters I am aware that at some point in this book I am going to have to write a Chapter simply called The Darkness – I want to get my voice speaking from that place – that third layer in me that cannot yet speak fully of terrible things. There is no point to this book at all if I cannot get that voice to open up.


To be continued …

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JAGGED #2 – The Mind I live in.

Please look at JAGGED #1 before reading on – it will give you some context, and it contains the obligatory Trigger Warnings regarding childhood sexual abuse, violence, and rape.

JAGGED

by Keith Edwin Thomas Davis

Chapter 1: Don’t call me a bloody Survivor!

How do you start a book? I don’t have some sort of James Patterson co-writer sitting beside me. Well maybe I should start with a welcome. Welcome to you, and welcome to me, to JAGGED. I have no idea what kind of journey it will take all of us on. Wise sages say that any journey begins with a first small step, I’ve always thought that wise saying was a load of rubbish. Little did I realise, as I took my first small step across the entranceway to St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage in 1957, that a primed rocket of violence and abuse was about to explode under my five year old arse and blow who I once was to absolute fucking smithereens.

I think that is a very polite and understated opening paragraph.

I am feeling something here. A very, very, deep feeling of something. I have waited sixty-three years to feel it. I’m going to forgive myself if the first few Chapters of JAGGED go ballistic. How could they not?

When the maelstrom settles I will go on to talk about the Catholic Church, the legal profession, the media, society, and how all of those entities treat people who are desperately trying to recover from their childhood sexual abuse experiences. With few exceptions, and they do exist, my opinions of the majority of those entities is beyond scathing.

This book is giving me the first chance I’ve ever had in my life to trial life without the use of a mask. I’ve worn plenty of those mask things. Surfie, hippie, kombi owner, family man, safe male partner, intelligent wise dude, helpful in a crisis type soul, great to have as a friend, writer, newspaper publisher, social justice hero, legend in my own lunchbox. I’d have won first prize at the Venice Mask Festival. Maintaining those facades, maintaining all of that bullshit pretense, has been beyond wearying. I am not the mask. I am me.

This book is giving me a chance at something else as well. In the past I have written a few articles about the legacies of childhood sexual abuse, and I notice that I always reach for inclusivity. I always say how I, and others like me, are affected by this or that. Others like me, as a term, appears quite often. I say that I am not unique and that there are many others like me.

With all of that I wanted the safety of the crowd. I did not want to be seen in stand alone mode. I wanted agreeance and mutual support. Above all I just wanted to be safe. While there is nothing much wrong with any of that I do realise that it does partially come out of some seminal fear guilt-trip of the wrongness of making anything just about myself. Oh no – shine the spotlight over that other way please. I’ve always been afraid of saying, that exclusive of everybody else’s experiences or stories, this is my story.

I am well aware that one instance of terrible trauma can genuinely go on to affect the whole of the rest of a person’s life. But I did not experience only one instance of terrible trauma, so I am not outfitted to write with any assurity about how such a singular thing would feel – only a person who has experienced that can write about that. Trauma is trauma is trauma is trauma. You cannot compare one person’s trauma to another person’s trauma. I experienced multiple instances of trauma over a seven year period when I was a child (when I was a child – when did I get the chance to just simply be a child?) so I am only outfitted to write about the legacies of trauma experienced over an extended period.

That last paragraph has the smell of inclusivity guilt. I don’t want anyone who has experienced one instance of terrible trauma, that has gone on to tear apart the rest of their life, to feel that their trauma and my trauma have different weightings, because they don’t. The paragraph also shows that relating one’s own truths, without overlaying them with other people’s truths, requires a bit of mindfulness.

So this is my story. The story of Keith Edwin Thomas Davis. It stands alone. It is not linked to anybody else’s story or list of experiences. And here is something I think …

“I did not survive childhood sexual abuse, I did not survive seven years of multiple instances of physical assault, of mental cruelty, of rape – I did not survive any of it at all – I simply learnt to continue to breathe.”

Well, that certainly runs against the prevailing fucking zeitgeist of how society expects me to present myself as one of those mythical Survivors.

I am not expected to fight back against the catholic church. I am expected to be a dutiful and quiet damaged vegemite who will gratefully receive whatever, and how little of it, is thrown my way. The acceptance of the thrown bone of silence (otherwise known as a gag order) is not good enough. They deserve to be fought and I am going to fight them. I am going to expose them to the best of my ability.

Society loves tales of survivors beating adversity and winning through to some personal sort of salvation and moving on to live rich and rewarding lives. That tale is not my reality – my reality is a far more different bastard of a beast. People don’t quite realise, or don’t even remotely want to know, that the only reason that I can even sort of be called a survivor is simply because I haven’t yet managed to kill myself. I haven’t yet forgotten how to just breathe. I can’t blame people for not knowing that about me because I have never told anybody that about me.

Notice that I haven’t yet touched on what happened in that Orphanage? Well what happened, the facts of it all, will be just words for you but for me the recounting will be shitfully immersive so I will have to build up to it. Right now I just want to explode the Survivor Myth.

The media presents survivors of childhood sexual abuse in all sorts of ways. Sometimes as victims of crimes of a truly heinous nature, deserving of much sympathy. Sometimes as mere footnotes to the trials of once celebrated and finally caught out clergy. Sometimes as venal litigants. Personally I could not care less about how I am seen, how I am seen does not change who I am. How I am seen does not change one word I have already written, or any word that I am about to write. Having said that, I also live with the contradiction of being very fearful of how I am seen.

As somebody tagged by others as a survivor I am rarely asked about how I feel about what was done to me, or how the legacies that I carry have affected my life and the lives of those around me.

So here is a naked truth from my own existence. When you are raped and beaten as a child, assaulted over and over again in a religious institution, you never get over it. Nobody likes to hear the truth of that. The legacy of it all is seared into my being. Immovable. Untouchable. Deeper than deep can be. Even a nuclear explosion in the pit of my guts has zero chance of letting in any sort of light. But nobody likes to hear the truth of it. I don’t blame them.

As assessed by others my abuse experiences sit at the extreme end of the spectrum and the positive exhortations from well meaning others to buck up has about as much power as a random puff of hot air swirling in the dead centre of a vast desert. I’ve been told to transcend. Move on. Slide my arse down the positive side of the rainbow. Stand straight. Visualise happy-drippy stuff. Allow myself to be heard (but gosh please do it in a respectful ungraphic way and please don’t swear) forge ahead, embrace the light, try this newest therapeutic technique – oh for fuck’s sake it is so hard to tell the well-meaning to back off and bite into a reality sandwich for a change without running the risk of hurting their feelings.

Sometimes you know, you never get over it. Sometimes things are lost permanently, they cannot be re-found, they cannot be stuck back in. That is how it is. That is the truth of it. That is my truth and it is flayed out on my being like a never-bloody-ending Fibonacci Spiral.

Ah – but many people tell me that an understanding of my own truth will set me free. The truth will set you free. Really? That’s like saying that work will set me free. Arbeit Macht Frie. Best to avoid being shoved under banners such as that.

The knowledge that I am permanently damaged has set me free from fucking nothing. When you as a society look at me, don’t tell me that I am a Survivor, see me as somebody who endured some terrible things that cannot be gotten over. That is a more truthful view of things.

So scrap the word Survivor. It might have relevance in the world of reality TV where people treat each other badly on some island somewhere in order to win a lot of money – but in the stark world of childhood sexual abuse the word Survivor is not only irrelevant and disconnected from reality – it is quite damaging because it continues to allow society to brush away terrible things under a simplified mantra-like banner.

Chapter 1 has to end somewhere. By now you may have well realised, as I certainly have, that JAGGED is not going to follow some book writing sort of formula. Nothing is going to be presented in chronological order and there is no final crescendo to build up to. Each page is a crescendo in and of itself. My mind exists in a closed key-locked portion of the wider world of childhood sexual abuse and this book, this thing that you are reading and that I am writing, is my voice splitting out from constraint.

According to the professional experts my psyche remained intact and was not rendered asunder by my early experiences, and I am thankful for that granted mercy. My mind, and how it works or does not work, and how it comes at me from all directions at once, is another matter entirely.

Chapter 2: Your brain. My brain.

Why does your brain allow you to achieve things? Why does your brain allow you to feel happiness and contentment? Why does my brain not allow such things? What is achievement? What is happiness and contentment? What do such things feel like?

Chapter 3: A small overview of St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage – the easy stuff.

Well, I’m not about to praise it am I. Not by a long shot. I was under the control and the power of the adults there between late 1957 and early 1965. Seven full years. The feel of a fist smashing into my ear is not a good one. Being stuck in a cupboard did not light my fire either.

But I was something else before St. Vincent’s worked it’s own deadly sort of magic on me. I was born in 1952 in Sydney. Other people seem to remember many things about their early lives but I don’t. Between zero and almost five years old all I remember is wearing a ludicrous set of star-spangled pilchards to kindergarten, catching a bus into the city with my siblings to see a movie, and being on a train that I now know was heading north towards Brisbane. That’s it, there is nothing more, apart from a generalised feeling that I was loved and cared for. We are all very lucky that I am not trying to write a book about the first five years of my life – at best it would be rather brief.

But this book. Yeah, there is a bit more material to fill it out.

In another Chapter I will talk about my parents and what I have learned about how things came to be, and I will also talk about my siblings and why, for me, nothing ever came to be with them.

But right now I would like you to zing the following organisational names into your memory, they are certainly zinged into mine. The Order of the Sisters of Mercy. The Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. Fate presented me to them and they owned me. I am not being dramatic when I say that if I could catch up with a certain few individuals from those institutions, a certain number of priests and nuns, I would kill them. You might think that is a terrible thing to say, but I know that it is quite a safe thing to say, because they are long dead. But if they fronted up before me right now I would kill them without a passing qualm.

The Orphanage fed me shit food, and because I was so under-nourished they stuck me on a skinny-kids’ bench and made me double up on the shit food. I never put on much weight. Being placed on that bench marked me out as belonging to that tribe of ‘others’ – it attracted derision from the other kids (well, they had to take their own pain out on someone) and it labelled me as a benchee fuck-up. It was all so very hard to take.

The Orphanage also educated me. They taught me how to spell and read and write. They also taught me what violence is, what rape is, what mental cruelty is, what absolute and unfettered power and control over a human spirit is, and what the love of god is not. Quite an education all in all. I very much doubt that they would have won school of the year.

There is something about all of this that I would like all of you to understand. Back then, back in the 1950s, if you were a lost kid bunged into institutionalised religious/state care you had no agency – you had nobody in your corner – the society surrounding you was constipated with conservatism and hypocrisy and did not even remotely want to deal with an issue such as child abuse – indeed priests and nuns were seen as beautiful beings worthy of veneration – so as you, as that kid, crumpled under the abusive horror you did it absolutely alone. I did it absolutely alone. I defy anyone who says that they would have come out of such an experience without any sort of permanent damage. Many who went through it have killed themselves, and I’m still surprised that I haven’t.

What has never changed for me is that sense of aloneness. Yes I have been married, yes I have had children, yes after the failure of my marriage I had other long-term relationships with women, yes I have worked, yes I have had some friendships, but no – I have never lost that sense of aloneness.

You know, in my introduction to JAGGED I mentioned that this is a seen-from-within Case Study compiled over sixty-three years, and that I hoped that professional therapists like psychiatrists and psychologists, and other mental health workers, would spare the time to discuss and study it. As we progress along I hold fast to that hope. I am taking myself somewhere that I have never been before – I cannot tell you where or what that is – all I know is that the door is open and I’m going through it.

Chapter 4: The mind I live in.

This Chapter, firstly, is for all the mental health professionals out there and then, secondly, for anybody else who wants to understand what some of the affects of childhood sexual abuse can be on the mind of a human being.

This is a very long Chapter. If some of what you are about to read becomes a bit of a wild ride for you, please understand that it is the daily reality that I live in.

There is a bit of history to this Chapter. It comes out of the earlier version of JAGGED, completed in January 2020. I posted it up on AIMN as an article and then soon, riddled with fear, I took it back down. Fear is a powerful and constant thing.

This Chapter is about the permanent state of mind of the person who is writing this book. I’ll try to describe my state of mind to you, but that will only get us so far, because it is a shitful-for-me state of mind and hard to describe. After that, I’ll ‘show’ you my state of mind without any sort of protective filters in place at all.

In describing my mind I would like you to understand that I have been assured that there is nothing wrong organically with my brain. I have no lesions, chemical imbalances, schisms, or anything like that. I am not bi-polar, or schizophrenic, I don’t wander around muttering to myself on street corners, nor do I take any sort of prescribed medication. Yet, my mind does not work the way it was originally intended to, and parts of it have been turned off. Manually turned off, fucked apart, and not by me.

Can you imagine this picture? Imagine my mind as a spherical universe. That spherical universe is closed off to everything else that surrounds it. I’m stuck in there. However, somewhere in the wall of that globular universe there is a tiny little rend, a small split in the fabric, and sometimes it finds me. I say it finds me, because I cannot find it by looking. But when it does find me I stick my head through it as fast as I can and gulp in as much sweet clear air as I can. Then I fall back inside because there is no structure beneath my feet to keep me in position.

So, having my head in clear space, and being able to ‘breathe’ does not last for long. That short span of time, accidentaly replicated now and then, is all the time I get to meet you for coffee, be a workmate, a lover, a partner, a father, a friend, a writer, a neighbour, some random person you have just met .. etc. For those of you who know me as a friend it will probably explain to you why I am hopeless at small talk, and why my conversation immediately targets the nub of an issue, and why I then without obvious reason quickly fall away and fall within.

Those small sweet moments of clear air. This book is being written in such moments and it is why it will jump all over the place. I cannot write with any coherence from within my closed universe so everything you are reading comes out of those small limited moments of escape. For the rest of the time, the majority of the time, I exist in a place of fucking darkness.

Darkness … that cannot be described .. it can only be shown. Generally I don’t swear, but that reticence is fully, if temporarily, going out the window right now.

So here is my mind. The ‘showing’ of my mind. This is what sustained childhood sexual abuse and mental cruelty did to my mind. This is why I want to kill those who did this to me …

“The plaintiff has broad-ranging and chronic symptoms of persistent depressive disorder, from which he cannot escape.”

Depression is not a black dog. One black dog is easy to deal with. Depression is an ocean of black dogs who snarl and rip and tear at my bones.

When 35mm film runs across the cogs in a movie camera it makes a flickering sound. Flicker. Flicker. A movie plays across the inside of my forehead. I don’t want it to. But it does. Frame after flickering frame. No pretty filters to soften the view.

You are now looking through my eyes. My fucking eyes. You see what I see. You feel what I feel. You are in my mind. This space of fucking darkness. If I could swap places with you I would. All of this goes through my head all of the time. I cannot stop it.

Flicker.

Can’t breathe, the bastard is pressing me down. He’s ripping me apart. Can’t breathe. Bless you my son. The punch smashes my ear.

Flicker.

I don’t know you. We are just meeting. You’ve just picked up my book. To me, until proven otherwise, you are a predator, you are a killer. Your eyes are measuring me, looking within, seeking advantage. I don’t, and cannot, trust you.

Women and men. You damaged me. I don’t trust you on first meet.

If male, are you a killer of women and children, a rapist of women and children, a shit dressed up in artifice?

If female, are you one of those rare killers of children, a mental torturer of children and men, a purveyor of malevolence?

I hope that you are none of those things, I desperately hope that you are none of those things, but history proves that some of you are. Are you one of them? Yet I’m human, I want friends. Loneliness is fucking awful.

I am absolutely hopeless at small talk with you. I’m on my guard, but I don’t want to be on my guard. I’m waiting for the attack. Who cares who is winning the cricket, who cares about that bargain at Aldi, who gives a shit about the weather and your new house and your new car and your view of how good you are? How about the murder of refugees in your name?

Run away now. Trot trot for the shallow.

The freedom to say anything I fucking like. No editing. The freedom to say What Is, for me. Oh, he is such a gentle man, never says anything harsh. A real hippy.

Wow, what a couple of lines for all the psychologists and psychiatrists of this world to peruse. Some are good, but ha, the others. Case study wet dreams for their bookish edification. Haven’t lived it, they don’t have a clue, chasing their own intelligent tails around in circles. Fucking me off with their useless techniques and their games.

Haven’t sworn so much in all of my life.

Flicker.

Her punch shatters me, rocks me, here’s another hail mary, she does it again, the belt whips, god delivering love, oh boy the nuns of christ, the nuns of fucking christ. If I could hide I would, I can’t.

Flicker.

That movie plays on the inside of my forehead, it is on a never ending re-loop. Flicker. Flicker. I have to look through it to see you. You are out there, we are trying to meet, trying to talk, trying to connect, trying to have a coffee. I am sick of what the bastards did to me, sickened by what the bastards did to me. I write. I write. I try to reach you.

Damage. Worst seen. Worst expected. Worst received. Damaged. Where’s the exit from the bloody cinema?

Birds fly free, freedom, the lift of the wind, beautiful lucky little winged shits. Soaring in the sun. Beautiful lucky little winged shits.

Women are killed all the time, they know what rape feels like, society makes no more than a passing reference to that but oh we do have jobs and growth for the mindless. I am not killed all the time, what do I know, I know what being raped feels like.

67 years of living? Jesus Fucking Christ I want my trip money back, I want a refund. I want to be four years old and starting all over again.

Flicker.

You. You with your white collar and your church and your phallus. You predatory scum. If you weren’t dead I’d kill you. I’m a shot-child man. I’d fucking kill you.

Flicker.

Sitting at the table, looking out the window. Looking out the window. Desperately trying not to think.

Love. It spins faster than a neutron star. My children. Love.

Women, making love, making love, making love. Spinning faster than a neutron star.

Oh! So you are a Survivor of childhood sexual abuse? I’ll fix it up for you. Here’s three tears, how generous of me. Snuffle, snuffle, Parliamentary tearful apology be grateful. Job done. I’m sure I’ve helped. The head has been patted. Now piss off and don’t mention it again.

Mention it again. It killed us. No Survivor survives. Not a zombie movie, just ghosts of the living fucking dead. We walk, we talk, our feet wade through molasses in a vacuum, stuck, stuck, stuck.

Go shopping. Try to appear normal. Hide in the crowd.

I feel your pain, I feel your pain, I look into your eyes and I feel your pain. No you don’t. Rejoice in the fact that you don’t feel my pain. You are a lucky sod.

Beauty, the blue sky, the grass, the trees, a woman’s smile. Will she see my damage? I can love you know, it is not an impossibility!

Get up in the morning. Sit on the verandah. Stare at the sky. Go to bed after dark. Get up in the morning. Sit on the verandah. Stare at the sky. Go to bed after dark. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

I do not recognise your authority over me. I will fight you. You will not defeat the bit of me I have left.

That amazing thing called truth that everybody says that they want. Truth is, they don’t. They want the veneer of it that’s all.

Australia is a fascist country, that’s truth. Aboriginals are treated like dirt, that’s truth. We torture refugees who flee our bombs, that’s truth. Tinder is a fuck-fest for the brainless owners of ovaries and balls, that’s truth. Take note nuns and priests: if you fuck a child you will fuck them up for life, that’s truth. Nobody gives you a tax break without somebody else probably the poor having to pay for it, that’s truth. You won’t escape, AI and robotics will eventually blow you out of your job, that’s truth. Men like sex, women like sex, men fuck, women fuck, that’s truth. That’s truth. That’s truth. That’s truth.

What’s truth?

Oh, we are getting married! That white dress, that pin-striped suit. The church is bigger than a cathedral. Blessed by an unknown priest I could kill. I wanted succour at your breasts, I wanted your beauty, and your love, and your friendship. I failed. We ended.

Oh, we are having a relationship. I like your passion, your guts, your practicality. Let’s move away and start afresh. You in the fields, a sight to behold. I failed. We ended.

Oh, hello there. We both carry damage, we are both aware of that. We understand each other. If I could buy your zest for life, I would. Let’s give it a go. I failed. We ended.

I wanted security, and love, and family. I failed. We ended.

Depressed. They saw me as I am. Depressed. Joyless. Ended. Swimming in an ocean of black fucking snapping dogs.

Depression kills relationships. Wish I’d read that when I was four years old, wish I didn’t have a future need to read that when I was four years old. Wish the nuns and priests had read that when I was four years old. The bastards couldn’t read, wouldn’t read, didn’t want to read. The bastards were too busy fuck-killing children to read.

What’s truth?

So you think that my blue eyes are piercing, and that they look right into you. They don’t. They are watching the movie that is running on the inside of my forehead. I am trying to see you through the flickering of the frames. No Oscar for me. I didn’t want to be in the movie.

Plod plod. Go to work. Stick on a smile. Plod plod.

Light up another cigarette. Suck the breast. Suck for comfort. Light up another cigarette.

In my time did nuns and priests screw each other. Yes. Did priests screw each other. Yes. Did nuns screw each other. Yes. Did upright community matrons in all their frocked and gloved hatted finery deliver casseroles and head jobs to their venerated local neighbourhood priests. Of course they did. Did nuns screw orphanage old boys. Yep. Furtive thrusting. So if the bastards received all that sating why did they come after us?

Write an article. How come I can do that yet I can’t step forward and do other things ?

Flicker.

That’s a nice tall fence. Orphanage fence. Clinging to the top looking down the entrance road. Will they come and get me out of here? Nuns circling in the background, Sisters of Mercy, you’ve got to be kidding me they call themselves the Sisters of fucking Mercy, clawed hands reaching out.

Flicker.

Hello Lawyer person. I’m so desperate for justice, for damage to be undone. Thank you for running your I believe you script. What a legal actor you are, it drew me in. What? Do I have any money? No I don’t. Oh, ok then, I’ll piss off.

Don’t talk about suicide, the squeamish will cringe. Bang. Bang. Maybe nirvana, probably not. Time is a painless method, but very long. Hang on, hang on, it might get better. Better than what?

It is quite true. All you find at the bottom of a bottle is the view of the bottom of a bottle. Let’s have another Shiraz. Let’s not. Didn’t needle, the thought was never attractive simply because the thought was so attractive. Can’t smoke the Dope, it rushes the movie into starker focus.

Men are lucky. One of the most beautiful things in life is to be there, right there, when your child is born. The little eyes try to open, the little fingers curl around your thumb. But we are not lying back there thinking that shit I’ve just had ripped out of me something ten times the size of Manhattan! Men are lucky. One of the most beautiful things in life is to .…

Hey Keith, you are supposed to be this happy long-haired hippy person. You’ve got a Kombi and you wear Indian cheesecloth shirts but I don’t want to talk about anything real with you because that would mean that I’d have to momentarily drop my own shallow mask too.

You cannot be helped. Well I sure as shit had hoped for a better response than that!

Bloody hell. Here I am at a party with a glass of wine in my hand. There are all of those other people here with a glass of wine in their hands as well. All those eyes. I’m anxious. I’m afraid.

Roll up, roll up, grab your popcorn, take your seat, dim the lights. Here’s a movie produced for you by the media arm of catholicism, by god’s holy rolling fuckster company pty ltd. They’ve directed thousands of movies. Many thousands of movies. Survivors are the unheralded Stars.

You are a beautiful man, and I love you. Am I? Did you?

Friends fade away from me, I fade away from friends. I can’t small talk. My talk is intense. I talk about what I see, can’t do otherwise.

Anger and hate. Visceral anger and hate at the bastards who killed me. If I let anger and hate rip I’ll implode. If I don’t let anger and hate rip I’ll implode. If I do I’m fucked. If I don’t I’m fucked.

I’m fucked!

There is always the dog. Zoe the dog. Beautiful loving Zoe. Bullshit speakers say that dogs don’t have a spirit. Bullshit speakers are wrong. Zoe became dead after I did, what a conundrum that is, because I’m still alive and she is not.

Predatory male on a dark night street. I’m not a predator. I’m a male. Why are you afraid of me? I’ve met a few predators in my time. I’m the one full of fear.

Hello famous celebrity type person. You’ve got to be kidding me! Someone called you a name and you are going to sue them for two million dollars! In a comparative sense of damage done then I and other Survivors should be able to sue for 10 billion dollars each for fuck’s sake! But oh, I do see your point, you are a celebrity after all, and society is far more interested in the insignificant slight you suffered than they are in the fact that our childhood vaginas and anuses and mouths were stretched and ripped and bloodied by stiffed-up clerical cock. So please accept my apology for playing down the immense amount of suffering that you went through. Gosh, you were called a name. It must have been awful for you, it has probably wrecked your whole life. I feel your pain. Here’s your three tears back. Oh, you’ve stubbed your toe as well.

Lonely lonely lonely lonely. If you have a companion do you value them? I sure as hell would.

Beauty. How do you measure that? When a woman looks you in the eye and throws you the biggest shit-eating grin that you have ever seen in your life, then you will have just seen the most beautiful thing you will ever see in your life. If she does it twice you just have to tap dance down the corridors of love.

Hello next Lawyer person. I’m so desperate for justice, for damage to be undone. Thank you for running your I believe you script. What a legal actor you are, it drew me in. What? Do I have any money? No I don’t. No problem. Glad to hear it. No Win No Fee. I’ll bare my soul to you. Come in spinner! Here’s your pittance. Fuck off. Apology? Don’t be silly.

At the height of erotic and loudly proclaimed mutually enjoyed passion I never mirrored the screamed out request from the woman to ‘fuck me dead’, because I figured that it must have been pretty obvious to both of us that, in my case, somebody had already beaten us to it.

Children, children, children. Love them. Protect them. Die for them.

Sitting at a desk writing. Keyboard thump. Keyboard thump. Keyboard thump. Writing truth, writing open truth, writing unfiltered truth, writing swearing truth. Just skimming the fucking surface. The well’s much deeper than that.

Many people who have not had a hard life like to say that they did. They go pretty quiet when you show them what hard really looks like.

Standing in the middle of the road with my placard. Save the ABC. Save the World. Save the Universe. We are all behind you, you say. Hang on a sec while I turn around. No you’re not.

Pillars of the community. You are aspirational arseholes. You’re sucking up to the god of greed, twenty houses isn’t enough, you’re shafting the poor, you’re voting for those I love god politicians, you’re a proud shareholder of a company that is polluting the planet, you’re a rich and fat and compliant drone, a killer of the future of our children.

Flicker.

Her fist smashed into my teeth. She cut my buttocks with the edge of her razor strop. She head-locked me and covered my mouth and nostrils with her sweaty fat hand. A bitch of christ. Take off your clothes, show me your waggle bits. That fucking bitch of christ. Thump.

Flicker.

Flicker.

Well hello young Altar Boy. Come into the Sacristy with me. Let me bless you. He did. With his seed. The bastard. The stinking-cocked holy bastard. Let me bless you. Keep your mouth shut or I’ll thump the living daylights out of you. I’m a priest, everybody loves me. I don’t. I hate you. I want to kill you. I’m a child. I can’t.

Flicker.

god. No capital G for that bastard. And those dumb prats sit in their pews and kiss his arse. Dumb prats who can’t think for themselves. Smarmy dumb prats. Kissing the arse of the venerated molesting priests.

I can look after and care for others. But not myself. I’m the movie, I cannot care for that.

Keep losing my jobs. Can’t get a job. So much wrong here. Everybody just puts up with it. I can’t stand it. Ha, social justice for the workers? Keep fighting with management. Sacked. Sacked. Sacked. None of you have beaten the little bit of me that is left to me. I’d rather be me than you.

Oh, sad sod, depressed sod, PTSD sodded sod. Chin up chap. Endure. Move on. One foot after the other. There’s gold at the end of the rainbow. Fake it until you make it. Here’s your six step plan. Silver lining and clouds. Think positively. Smile and the world will smile with you. What sort of idiot believes that nonsense?

Looking through that window I can see the ocean, the blue sky, the coastal strip, the buildings, the concrete, the greed, the exploitive middle class, the fascist rich. Beautiful view. Shit view.

Have a glass of wine. Eat a pretzel. Smile at your friend. Make appropriate eye contact. Whoops, that was too long, look away, look back, look away, look back. I’m not even fucking there.

Flicker.

Your special pants are dirty you skinny little shit. Shit-filled pants. Blood-filled pants. Semen-filled pants. And then she, the bride of christ, launches into me. Could kill her, I’m a child, I can’t. Punch. Punch. Another fucking punch. Into the cupboard you go. Be grateful for the love of god you skinny little shit.

Flicker.

Fathers. Where’s mine? Dead. Damaged by war man. Brain-box blown up by Japanese bombs man. Loved him.

Mothers. Where’s mine? Long dead. Dumped us all. Three years old and on her knee. What was she like? Who was she? Loved her.

Religion. Don’t make me laugh! Pillocks in pulpits. Rapists in pulpits. Killers in pulpits. god loves you. Bend over.

You ask me if I believe in god. I ask what put the need in you to believe in something that does not exist.

My anger at them is vaster than vast. Spewing out pointlessly into the sponge of absolute shitty nothingness. Blown away on the wind. Phut!

Oh, gosh Keith, you are so brave and courageous for sharing your story and not enough people do it and I am genuinely inspired by you and do you want to repeat all the lurid details especially the dirty bits please and I love who you are and I want to hug you and I hear you and I feel for you and I empathise with you and I think you are amazing and I also do the same for celebrities and movie stars and musicians who have died or been zapped and other people who I don’t know and neighbours who have been murdered and I drop lovely flowers on the spots where they all carked it or had things happen to them and I can cry on cue for the television cameras which they love and I love and which makes me look great and gets oodles of sympathy sent my way even though nothing bad actually ever happened to me and just because I’m a professional at mourning by proxy and a bit of a grief-fiend and even though I’m a you should bare it all for my wrapt delight workshop junkie it doesn’t necessarily mean that the flowers I just pinched from that most recent dead celeb’s shrine weren’t plonked down at your feet Keith with love and sincerity and care does it? “I wasn’t speaking to you. I don’t want your sympathy. I was speaking to people who can gut-stomach truth. So pick up your flowers and fuck off.”

According to tests that test such things I have a reasonably high level of intelligence. Yet, all things considered, I cannot even tie the shoelaces of my own life.

Flicker.

White habit and glaring eyes. The back-hand sent me sprawling. She grabbed me by the scruff of the fucking neck and shoved me into that darker cupboard. The darkness. The darkness. No wonder I cried in the isolation cell in the Separate Prison at Port Arthur.

Get on the bus. Nobody will notice you. They will not be thinking anything. It will all be ok.

Fuck. You think this is all over the top? You’re getting the light polite version. The let’s not go the whole hog or really offend anyone version. Flicker. Redact. Hide. Hide. Gosh, you can’t say that.

Why did they weaponise their penises? Did they hate themselves that much?

Go the whole hog.

Survivors were fucked and beaten, fucked and beaten, fucked and beaten, over and over again. Thumped into the dirt and then the boot was jammed into our neck. Do you get that? The Royal Commissioner said that the problem with the catholic church was that they saw the rape of children by their clerics as a moral dilemma, but not as a crime. The church is still as sick as it ever was.

I’ve sworn more in this Chapter than I have in my whole life. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck to the tenth fucking degree of the tenth fucking degree of that tenth of a fucking tenth degree of that tenth fucking degree. With piles of shit on top. We live with this stuff each and every day. And some of you call us whingers, and whiners, so fuck you if you do, and hello to you if you are a reasonable person who does not.

Do you dream? I don’t. Well I do, but they are never remembered. I wonder what I dream about? Early on my mind learnt to shut some things away in little boxes and that apparently is where my dreams go. That’d be an interesting little dream box trip, wonder what would be in there, free flying birds probably. I wish there was a box for the movie. How come that shit of a movie didn’t go into a little box? That’s a bastard of an unfairness.

Damage done. Neil Young sang about damage done.

Let’s go to church, let’s be seen to go to church, let’s be the pillars of our communities, let’s get into politics as well, they’ll pay us to fuck them up. Let’s give them a mantra, they suck that shit up.

Hello therapist. Hello psychologist. Hello psychiatrist. Can you fix me up? So I’m not bi-polar. So I was not rendered asunder. So I’m not psychotic. So I’m not a denizen of Bedlam. So you can’t fix me up. So what I see is fucking unfortunately really there. Really there. Trouble is mate, you see what is there, you’d be better off with the understanding level of a newt. So me is still mine, minutely. I knew all of that already, but here’s your bucks anyway.

Flicker.

Predatory-eyed nun. What’s your problem you little shit. It is my job to sit here and watch you naked in the shower. Don’t turn away! Face me and keep your hands by your side! That weren’t no arty little life class that weren’t.

Flicker.

So I’m saner than sanity can be. What a fair measure of the damage that being an uber sane observer of my own killing really is, it should have sent me crazy. Being able to think isn’t costless.

Hello Appeal Type Lawyer. I’m so desperate for justice, for damage to be undone. Thank you for running your I believe you script. What a legal actor you are, it drew me in. Oh, do I have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of spare dollars? No, I don’t. Oh, ok then, I’ll piss off.

Flicker.

Come into my room young boy. Why is the nun leaving? Who is that man? Why is he grabbing my head? Can’t breathe. Smothered. That stick bit of him is hurting my throat. Thump. Thump. Keep your yap shut. Say anything I’ll come after you. Scurry away. Hide. Hide. Hide. Where’s my little toy car. Curl up under the covers.

Flicker.

Cook a meal. Say hello to the landlord. Try and make a new friend. Maybe volunteer somewhere. Watch television. Do the washing. Look in the mirror, you are getting old. Hello old friend let’s meet up, have a coffee. Pretend all’s good. Sit on the verandah, stare at the sky. Pretend, pretend, pretend all is good.

He is such a quiet and friendly man. That’s the bit of me I have left.

Flicker.

In the shower I scrub myself with soap. Over and over again. Every time in the shower I scrub myself with soap over and over again. But it stays the same. It never goes away. It never goes away.

Flicker.

Fuck them all, the tears are coming again. Fuck the nuns, fuck the priests, I cannot unsee what was done, I cannot unfeel it. I cannot escape it.

My mind IS the Separate fucking Prison.

Sit on the verandah. Stare at the sky.

Flicker bloody depressive ocean of snarling black dogs flicker.

Where is the curtain? I want to draw it across the screen. I want all of this to end.

Flicker.

The barrel was in my mouth, my finger was on the trigger. I opened the door and stuck my head inside the gas oven. I stood on the edge of the cliff. I accelerated the car and looked for something solid to aim at. I picked up the razor. I did those things. I did those things. I did those things. I can’t believe I did those things. I can believe I did those things.

Bang fucking Bang. I’m still here! It is so dark I can’t see or feel a bloody thing. Looks like time will have to do the job then.

Flicker.

This next sentence has been written in a moment of sweet clear air …

Right, the ballistic missile has returned to earth, somewhat. That movie is on constant re-loop in the front of my brain, permanently flickering away. It ‘shows’ the state of my mind. The scattered state of my mind. All of the content of the movie and more comes at my mind from all directions at once, it saturates my mind, all of the time. If I didn’t have fingernails I’d have slipped off the edge a long time ago.

Medico/Legal Report 27/01/2018: “Left as he is now, Mr Davis is highly unlikely to show improvement. There is risk that his various symptoms may become more problematic as he ages. His prognosis in this situation would be poor. He is unlikely ever to be symptom-free, given the pervasive acts of abuse/cruelty which he experienced whilst he was a resident at the orphanage.”

And when all of this was pointed out to the Catholic Church when I approached them for a hearing three years ago … their response was simply to go for my throat again.

Chapter 5: Is he ever going to give us a bit of light reading?

Yes he is. Yes I am. This is a very short segue Chapter. It has only two points to make.

There was a lot of swearing before this Chapter. There will be very little after it.

It is difficult to be heard when you are not yet able to speak of terrible things.

to be continued …

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JAGGED #1 – Introduction to the book.

In approximately a week or so time my book JAGGED will start to appear in serial form on The Australian Independent Media Network platform. I would like to thank the owners/editors of AIMN for affording me this opportunity – they are brave and beautiful people.

JAGGED is nothing less than a seen-from-within Case Study compiled over sixty-three years on the long term affects on the human spirit of sustained exposure to violence and childhood sexual assault while under the care of the Catholic Church.

I have been case studied to infinity and beyond by mental health professionals such as psychiatrists and psychologists, and at the end of the book I will put up their assessments of me. Nothing that they ever tried, whether it be this technique or that technique, ever helped or ever changed how I am. That fact is not a reflection of their abilities or any failure on my part to strive for something better, that fact simply exposes a very stark truth that for some survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and I stress the word some, the damage caused by those early experiences runs too deep, and cannot easily be repaired.

What may well prove unusual about this book, both for you and for me, is that it will be unfolding live on AIMN. Unfolding live in the sense that I will be posting up the Chapters in blocks of one or two as they are written. Sure, I will be drawing on my first halting attempt to write the book, which I completed in January 2020 just before COVID dropped in, and sure, I will be drawing on some previous articles that I have written on this subject matter – but all of that combined will simply just give me some guideposts

In many ways this book called JAGGED, this Case Study, will be an unfolding experiment, both for me, as well as for AIMN, as well as for you. I cannot predict where it will take us all. This wonderful site generally carries articles on all sorts of topics, and over the years to a small extent I have contributed to that by submitting articles on subjects such as AI and the punitive nature of the Welfare System in Australia – but I would like you to understand something about me – in order to write articles such as that I have had to step outside of my true self and create an artificial fugue state where I can at least pretend to be an objective writer – sometimes I can manage to do that, but generally I cannot. The subjectivity of my own state of mind owns me.

So who is writing this book? Well, I could concoct a flattering version of me and create some sort of happy photo to personalise things (much as most writers do on the dust-jackets of their books) but I don’t see that such falsity or fantasy would serve any real purpose along this path, along this reach, for truth. I am soon to turn sixty-eight. I am permanently clinically depressed, and have been so for as long as I can remember. Everything, and everyone, scares me. I cannot, as desperately as I would like to, I cannot trust. In my own assessment I operate at about 50% capacity (professional assessments rate that one slightly higher or slightly lower). Unless my friends really encourage me – I hardly ever go out, or socialise, or do anything. That is why the book is called JAGGED.

I am writing this book for that percentage of survivors who endure permanent damage; for the children of survivors who have struggled to reach through and understand why their parent/parents cannot easily communicate or talk about what had happened to them; for my own children; for my own partners (beautiful women all); for the professional mental health workers who try to understand and who try to help people like me, and others like me; for the members of the legal profession who supported my pursuit for justice, and whom I so admire; for the members of the legal profession who opposed my pursuit for justice and who chose to represent the Catholic Church, well, detest is too polite a word to use; and finally, for anybody who has a genuine wish to understand why survivors like me are the way we are – why we are so difficult to reach – I will do my best to inform your understanding.

I have no personal need for Trigger Warnings but I understand that others genuinely do. So I would like to point out that some sections of JAGGED, but by no means all, seek to comprehensively deal with such issues as mental cruelty, mental health, rape, physical assault, the nature of violence, childhood sexual abuse, depression, addiction, religion, power, silences contained within our society, PTSD, suicide, and what the legacies of all such matters can do to a human being.

Everybody comments on everything these days, and that is just the way of it, but if it is possible I would request this of you – if you can reserve your commentary until the presentation of fact, thought, and context, has been fully played out (I’m assuming that will happen when the last Chapter has been posted) then I will be in a solid enough emotional space to be able to respond fully and respectfully to you.

A while ago one of my best friends said to me … you have a book in you … you have THE BOOK on a certain subject in you. I don’t know about that one, I don’t believe that one, but I do know that I have this book in me.

The following quote comes from a book by Jon Krakauer entitled Into Thin Air – A Personal Account of the Everest Disaster (Pan Books, 1998).

“I distrust summaries, any kind of gliding through time, any too great a claim that one is in control of what one recounts; I think someone who claims to understand but is obviously calm, someone who claims to write with emotion recollected in tranquility, is a fool and a lier. To understand is to tremble. To recollect is to re-enter and be riven … I admire the authority of being on one’s knees in front of the event.” (Harold Brodkey “Manipulations”)

Well I am not calm, I am not tranquil. I am in control of nothing that I am about to recount. I cannot possibly re-enter a world that I cannot possibly leave. To understand continually tears at my guts. I have never not trembled. The rivening does not decrease. I am angry because of every bloody thing that has been lost.

Will I be judged for what I write? Will I be supported with what I write? Both of those things will happen.

Will what I write be studied and discussed by mental health professionals? Will they take up and seek to understand and learn from this view from within the closed world of a permanently damaged survivor of childhood sexual abuse? I hope so – I will not let my fear of standing up and being seen get in the road of that hope. I want the experience of my life to be of informed benefit to somebody, I want it to mean something, I want it to create value and understanding in somebody else’s life.

What happens now, what I do with JAGGED, what I recount and how I recount it, will finally define who I am as a human being.

Keith

Link to JAGGED #2

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Remember the humble Choko?

When I was a kid many Australian people had the humble Choko growing on their fence. You could use it as an added vegetable when you presented a Mutton Roast (these days called a Lamb Roast – let’s face it most Legs of Lamb we purchase are a little beyond lamb size – most of them are mutton huge).

Chokos grow on a climbing plant and look a bit like a pear. Some varieties have spines, while others are spineless. Colours range from green to ivory white. Chokos have a very mild flavour, often compared to marrow, so they are usually cooked with other stronger tasting foods. The words in this paragraph have been pinched from Google search.

Chokos are an all time favourite vegetable in Australia (well they were about fifty years ago). Chokos , or as they are sometimes known as chayote or alligator pear are a vine crop found in warm to subtropical areas. … they are also one of the most pickled vegetables in Australia. Chokos are available throughout the year especially in tropical Australia (well they were about fifty years ago).

Lightly boiled, smothered with salt, garlic, pepper and butter.

I am writing all of this to say that we should resurge the humble Choko. It fell out of favour because it was seen as the food of poor people. It fell out of favour because certain National Canners substituted, and were caught out as substituting, Choko as a replacement for apple or pear mush – which it did if you added just a little sugar.

But forget the history. I am a champion for the Choko.

I would like to see it resurge.

Did your grandmother/grandfather leave you any Choko recipes? If they did send them to me.

I’m Choko deprived!

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Let the old die and save my ‘entitlement’

Let the old die. The economy is all. Why should I care for the children of the age of Aguarius? My rights and my selfishness are paramount.

If COVID-19 wastes them away is there anything wrong with that?

The right wing of politics is showing true colours.

Old folks. They are expendable. They are invisible. They are not important. Let them die.

If you are a person who thinks such things here is our older person message to you …

Go stuff yourselves, you pack of arseholes!

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What does it mean to be a man?

If you ask one million men that question, more likely than not you will get one million different answers. Nothing wrong with that.

When I was a young bod, which does seem like a million years ago, I had no clear idea at all about what it meant to be a man. I grew up without any positive male role models in my life – so when I woke up each morning I never thought that well, here am I as a man waking up to the promise of a new day, I always thought that here I am as a human being, who happens to be a male, waking up to the promise of a new day.

Back then, the societal projection of what a man was supposed to be smacked of total irrelevance to me. The ‘Marlbro’ man, man as stoic unemotional protector, man as provider, man as strong and resolute, man as natural leader, man as a ‘go for it’ being, man as head of family – all of that concocted dross struck me as an advertising or marketing exercise gone horribly wrong.

Horribly wrong in the sense that a campaign of that sort belonged more to the Victorian era rather than the late 1970s. When I looked around me, back then, there appeared to be quite a few independent men Kombi-ing about who did not buy into such shallow societal views of what it meant to be a man. Apart from noticing that fact I confess to not having given the issue much further thought.

But as the years churned by I suppose, in the back of the brain somewhere, such issues bounce around and seek some sort of resolution.

So here we are in 2020. What does it mean to be a man?

Not being an academic type who wishes to publish a treatise on the matter, and not being an argy-bargy I want you all to agree with me and I have to be right and your opinion is wrong type, I’ve arrived at an answer that simply suits me.

In my opinion to be a man in this era means being a loving, compassionate, and respectful human being. To my way of thinking everything else flows from that base.

Well and good, that’s my opinion.

But what do you think? What do you think being a man means?

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