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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.

The Bishops of Brisbane …

This could have been a poem. But it is not.

I want to live down in the fucking dirt of truth and reality.

I want the truth of childhood sexual abuse exposed and explored and damned.

I want the red dirt of this land sifting between my toes. I want to start to feel again.

Fuck your Catholic abuse. Fuck you for squeezing down my life.

Fuck you for your nice public Catholic words and fuck you for the damage you do when you think that the public is not seeing what you really do behind the scenes to people like me.

I will not genuflect. I will not forelock tug. I will not bow to the likes of Coleridge and his ilk.

Fuck you for the sickness you still hold within your hearts.

It was a close run thing. I’m still here. I’m still alive. I survived. I can now say that I truly am a Survivor.

I’m still breathing. I feel. I see light ahead. I sense the meaning of the word freedom.

This could have been a poem. But it is not.

This is a fucking indictment of the lifelong effects felt by children when they are abused.

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In The Third Person

THE WRITER sits down in front of his keyboard and muses over what subject to weave words around. He temporarily comes up blank. He stands up, goes to the kitchen, and makes a coffee. Sipping it he stares out the window and looks down the valley to the ocean in the far distance. He imagines diving into the cold surf. In the background the presenters on ABC News Breakfast explore the poorly handled vaccination rollout. The phone rings.

Thirty kilometres away, within earshot of the surf, Denise holds the phone to her ear with one hand and kneads a sourdough loaf with the other. She wonders if Keith is home and whether he is in hermit or open-to-chat mode. She wonders how his psychotherapy is progressing.

The writer accepts the call on his smartphone.

As old friends do they chat happily for twenty minutes. They disconnect from the call.

The writer rolls a cigarette. He lights it and puffs contentedly away and thinks how stupid it is to fill his lungs with cancerous tar. He reminds himself to buy another packet of tobacco next time he goes shopping. He thinks how nice it was to be called.

Upstairs the landlady fires up her new toy, a Dyson Vacuum that emits a banshee howl. The writer wonders if the Virgin Hyperloop would make a similar sound as it scoots up the tube.

Meanwhile, Scott Morrison pops up on the television. He says nothing new which is nothing new. The writer blocks out the PM’s droning.

Unknown to the writer, at that exact moment the early-morning Mapleton Bus starts to descend the very steep range road to the coast. Two aged men on the bus joke warmly with each other about how dementia is starting to noticeably affect their memories. They laugh at the fact that they both regularly forget what it is that they are meant to be doing. One of the men relates a little story about when he was meant to go to the kitchen and get a band aid for his wife who had cut her toe. He happily went to the kitchen, forgot why he was there, so made himself a vegemite sandwich and sat on the back stairs in the sun. The other man said that he was equally forgetful. The passengers on the bus smiled at the way the men gently supported each other, they looked out of the window at the steep drop-off on the left side of the road, and also wished that one of the men, the bus driver, did not forget that he was meant to put his foot on the brake now and then.

The writer had a coffee with a friend two days later. The friend was on the early-morning bus. They all got safely to their destinations. As he stands staring out of the window, second coffee in hand and third fag in gob, the writer is not thinking about the story. He hasn’t heard it yet.

What he does think about is ‘Muse, Muse, where art thou, Muse?’

He considers writing about Coal Workers. About how long will it take before those workers turn with a vengeance on Conservative Governments who continue to sell them the lie of a rosy future for their industry for endless decades to come simply to secure their vote? Will it take another decade before the Coal Workers realise that all the transition jobs into renewables, which should have been rightfully theirs, were snapped up a decade earlier by other workers who did not swallow the grand lie? He wonders why the Government is not scheduling the construction of vast solar farms right now in coal mining areas. But he lets that idea slip away … he needs to do more research on that subject matter.

The thought of the Hyperloop sound upstairs comes back to him. He thinks about how if the Hyperloop does become an eventual reality it will kill off any desire for Very Fast Trains, and withdraw from Australian politicians at least one promise that they have never had any intention of delivering on, and how the Hyperloop may well lead to the demise of domestic air travel (if you could get from Brisbane to Townsville in one hour then why on earth would you bother to fly?) and how, multiple technical difficulties aside, how the Hyperloop could possibly lead to the eventual creation of a workable Space Elevator. He pushes that idea aside too … do that one next week perhaps?

He thinks about how the Conservatives treat the unemployed. About how they demean and demonise the unemployed. He considers the old 80/20 unemployment rule which says that 80% of the unemployed desperately want a job and 20% are a bit diffident about it all so why are we wasting billions of dollars annually on profit-taking JobNetwork orgs who gleefully graze on the federal dollar (our dollars) and dismally fail to place people in meaningful and lasting jobs? He thinks about the Private Training Orgs who shower useless Cert 111’s on all comers while our world class TAFEs and Universities are continually dud-funded by our Governments. Nah … I’ve written about that before he thinks.

The thought of psychotherapy enters his head. There’s much going on there. Bob Dylan comes to mind. That crusty old sage once remarked that the point of life is not to find oneself, the point of life is to create oneself. The writer thinks about sitting on a mountain top deep in meditative contemplation of self … he realises that the best that can come out of that sort of navel gazing in his own case is a pointless understanding of the amount of lint that has gathered in his belly button. Psychotherapy is a good thing he thinks … it is teaching him to trust other human beings. Maybe he will write about the experience of psychotherapy one day he thinks … but not today.

He thinks about Denise’s sourdough bread and how good it is.

The writer puffs away. The Muse does not alight. No writing today. He decides to catch the late-morning bus down to the coast, visit Denise, and go for a swim in the surf. On the bus he enjoys all of the precipitous scenery. There’s only one old bloke on the bus this trip. No gentle stories are told about dementia. Nobody has a reason to create a gentle smile, nobody has a reason to shat their pants either, the writer will not know about such things for two days yet.

Even though he wrote nothing at all this day the writer ended up having a wonderful time. The surf was cold and bracing … it cleared his head … he thought about a couple of things to possibly write about!

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A grand love affair …

I’m not a royal commentator or biographer. I’m a Republican. I have next to nix interest in the British Royal Family. The passing of a Duke resonates on a very low level with me … however … the passing of a man who loved and appreciated his partner over the course of his long lifetime does resonate at a very high level.

Over the next day or so the mainstream media is going to gush and gush everything royal. Commentators are going to wax lyrical about the Royals and how the passing of a Duke is not only the end of an era but also a good enough reason for all of us to drop our flags to half mast and abjectly fall into a period of national mourning and flower laying.

The death of any human being (with the exception of the Hitlers of this world) is a sad thing. The death of Philip is a sad thing.

But what a legacy he leaves behind!

As far as I am concerned Elizabeth and Philip were/are two ordinary human beings who met and fell in love, and that love endured over the course of their very long lifetimes. Their story greatly transcends the fact that they were protected elites sitting atop the baubles of an irrelevant crown-based power. The power of their story would be as strong had they been a couple who lived their lives unseen in the outer reaches of Dagsville.

In one way Elizabeth and Philip remind me of every other old couple we occasionally spot wobbling their way through a park hand in hand. Their story reminds me that, in this era when relationships have temporary tenure, and when too many men treat far too many women atrociously, there still does exist a thing called enduring unconditional love.

I’m not going to falsely eulogise Elizabeth and Philip, it is a given that they would have had their ups and downs together. However, they stuck with and supported each other until they reached very old age, and it only ended because one of them died.

So I salute Philip and Elizabeth. Two ordinary human beings. I salute the long life they shared. As a Republican who salutes no royal standard, I do salute the fact that they did show that the only enduring thing of value in this life is friendship and love.

I pay tribute to the power of love.

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RAPE – the view of a quiet ‘voice’

Much lucid commentary on the treatment of women has appeared in the media over the last month and a half, and rightfully so. Largely I have stayed out of saying anything on the issue because all the stories that are being aired, all the stories about rape, sexual assault, inappropriate behaviour, careers diminished, objectification and powerlessness, and all the expressed opinions on such matters, can have such a powerful triggering affect on an older person like me, and on so many other older women and men who are like me.

The last few months has not been the time to try to fully re-raise our older voices, the voices of aged childhood sexual abuse survivors, but I do believe that the time will soon come when our voices, and the many things they have to say, will begin to be fully heard and truly listened to by society, or at least that is my hope.

Human beings like Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins and others like them, to me, represent a young vanguard of fearless articulate women who are not just politely requesting change of real substance, they are out there putting their lives and reputations on the line as they confront the protected bastions of male power. I note that their focus is not just entirely upon themselves and their own terrible experiences, I note that they are standing on the shoulders of their own experiences and calling for societal-wide change.

I think that many aged survivors have simply kept quiet, and tried to deal with their own maelstrom of triggered feelings, while the legitimate rage of women has found a powerful collective voice, a collective voice that I believe will enable real change not only in the way that Parliament treats women, but also in the way that society treats women.

I have a very deeply held belief, a belief that is not necessarily shared by all. I believe that the most pervasive form of violence in our society is the level of violence directed at, and experienced by, women. I believe that unless society truly addresses the level of violence directed at women first, then we as a society have very little chance of starting to address all the other forms of sexual violence and misuse of power that exists out there in our suburbs, and in our care institutions.

Some older survivors of childhood sexual abuse are right now treading a delicate path where the issue of ‘voice’ is concerned. I certainly am. Right now is not the safest of times for our feelings and for our hopes. Social media is a brutal swipe-fest and any older survivor trying to raise legitimate concerns in the current climate are likely to be attacked as diversionists or deflectors or whataboutists, so little wonder that so many of us have stayed quiet because we not only do not deserve the rage, we have no wish to attract it.

Violence in our society is disproportionately genderised and women are the main recipients, and my own experiences as a male recipient of childhood rape and violence does not diminish that unassailable fact.

I know what being the recipient of rape feels like. I know what powerlessness feels like. I know what being punched and controlled feels like. I know the legacies that such events can impose on the life of human beings. I know that now is the time for men to stand against other men and stand with women.

Empathy cannot be taught. If it does not exist within it does not exist at all. The current politician who has been sent for empathy training is nothing less than a smokescreen to protect a parliamentary majority that is whittling itself away day by day.

Our Parliament is a cesspit of male misogyny, as is our society, it is beyond time for real change.

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The beauty of AIMN

Hi to all the writers and readers who associate with AIMN. I have been involved with AIMN as a writer and supporter for roughly seven years now. What a personal blessing for me that has turned out to be.

Michael and Carol Taylor have set up this wonderful platform. It hosts the pithy (and she even swears now and then) political commentary of Kaye Lee. It runs the Rossleigh discourse on everything that is crazy in this world. It gives many other intelligent people and bloggers the space to express their opinion and analysis of events that are currently happening in our society.

Just because I carry traumatic legacies and rarely comment on things … that does not mean that I am not paying attention to the writings that appear on AIMN. I am paying attention. The rare thing about AIMN is that, while it might carry strong critical analysis of political happenings etc … the Articles that appear on AIMN are not hate-driven or mindlessly ideological in content. Now what a refreshing change that makes from the fodder that is presented from the Mainstream Press.

I am proud to be associated with this platform. I am mortified that nobody liked my ‘Eating Tomatoes in Portugal‘ article, but I easily toss that one aside and say … this platform, which gives a voice to so many people, is beyond value.

Regards Keith

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If Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the Brisbane Archdiocese drove me to the point of suicide in 2020 – did he and others conspire to commit a crime?

As a Survivor of childhood sexual abuse in a Catholic orphanage, I am the only person who can give myself agency. I am the only person who can stand up for myself and say that I have had enough of the treatment I have received from the Catholic Church. I make no allegation here, I make a direct accusation against Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, and against the hierarchy of the Corporation of the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland.

In August 2020 I sought to end my own life.

In 1957 I was five years old. As my feet traversed the entrance to St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage near Brisbane I did not know that multiple rapes and years of mental cruelty lay in my future.

In 2017 I was sixty-four years old. As I lodged my Claim for redress against the Catholic Church I did not know that four years of re-traumatisation, re-abuse, and the very denial of my existence was ultimately going to send me to the acute mental health ward of Nambour General Hospital where I was placed on suicide watch.

The childhood rapes and cruelty I experienced are rightfully deemed to be a heinous series of crimes. Yet, the denial of agency and re-abuse I experienced from the Catholic Church when I lodged my Claim, events that combined together to lead me into the choice of wanting to end my own life, are not deemed to be crimes of equal magnitude. Well, I see no difference. Trauma is trauma. Abuse is abuse. Without the very good help of the professionals in the acute mental health ward I would not be here today writing this.

Imagine how appalling a feeling it was to find that in August 2020 I lost control of my own mind and came to awareness in the A & E ward of Nambour Hospital with a nurse checking my clothes and body for any implements I could use to kill myself.

I have a pretty obvious question to put to both the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, and to the Corporation of the Sisters of Mercy here in Queensland.

“When does omission of care by the Catholic Church cross the line between a casual indifference to the responsibility of duty of care, and morph into a deliberate criminal intent to deny care and cause harm?”

Committing myself has a bloody awful back-story. It is not a unique back-story. Too many of my Survivor Brothers and Sisters know the story all too well.

In early 2017, after almost a full lifetime of not having the courage to do it, I initiated legal proceedings against the Corporation of the Sisters of Mercy, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. Well little did I know. I expected justice, acknowledgement, apology, recognition of lifelong harm done, and heartfelt involvement in truth telling. I did not expect to be purposefully psychologically demolished, I did not expect to be treated as though I were lower than scum, I did not expect absolute silence once I had spoken, I did not expect the extent to which the Catholic Church was prepared to go to to diminish, unacknowledge, and water down my claim against them to almost nothing, I did not expect to be totally cut out of any important mediation session between the Church and my legal representatives, I did not expect to be treated as though I do not exist.

You may laugh at my naivety here, but I truly did believe the PR material contained on the Catholic websites where they state how much they care for the welfare of Survivors who lodge genuine claims for acknowledgement and redress. Naive no more. Their only concern was to protect their reputation, demolish me psychologically to the point where I fell apart and could not competently pursue my claim. In their aims they were totally successful – I openly admit I was a broken re-traumatised and re-abused man who was prepared to, and subsequently did so, sign any sort of release document just to get away from them and their abusive behaviour.

The Catholic Church did not care for my welfare as a litigant Survivor. Their only concern was damage limitation, a strict adherence to their internal risk management processes, and a go to any length approach to protect their public reputation.

So, to reiterate, how appalling a measure and indictment of the destructive power on the human spirit of childhood sexual abuse is it when one finds, in the latter stages of your life, finding yourself on suicide watch in a secure facility with your capability to control your mind in any sort of positive way totally lost to yourself. How appalling is it that when you approach the Catholic Church for justice and fairness their response is to re-abuse, re-traumatise, and drive you to the wish for suicide.

The last four years, induced and reinforced by the terrible way I was treated by the Sisters of Mercy and Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, has been an awful experience to go through.

So I make no allegation, I make a direct accusation. The Archbishop had nothing to do with my childhood rape experiences, but since he the head of the Archdiocese and can be seen as ultimately responsible for everything done in its name – I directly accuse him of gross failure in his duty of care towards me. I directly accuse him of responsibility for the four years of re-abuse and re-traumatisation that I have just experienced. I directly accuse him of placing me in an unsafe situation where I saw suicide as the only way out of the trauma. I directly hold the hierarchy of the Corporation of the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland of holding equal culpability in this matter.

In my opinion they have committed a crime.

I am writing to the Queensland Police Service to see if they will accept and investigate my Formal Complaint against Archbishop Coleridge.

Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636


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The Last Humans on Mars …

(Author: I’m currently working on a Space Elevator article, however, since Mars is all go at the moment I’ve dug up an old article of mine from the AIMN Archives just for the heck of it. The re-named article provides a partial answer (quite accidental on my part) to the riddle of the Fermi Paradox, and it does wonder about what ‘story’ will humanity leave behind on Mars.)

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 even 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?

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Un-Friending Facebook?

My finger is itchily hovering over the button that will sever my connection with Facebook. But before my digit descends I’ll pop out to the Mapleton Village shops and pick up a coffee, and sit in the park, and think about things.

Right. Coffee done. I’m back.

It would be so easy to press the button but the truth is I’m feeling very conflicted. I’d like you to read the following PR notice that FB has trotted out there for years … “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.”

Maybe, in a time that ended long ago, that statement had a ring of truth to it. But then the founders of FB moved on from being jolly College IT Nerds and discovered the feel of staggeringly huge amounts of money in their mitts, and then re-designed the platform to put even larger amounts of same in that same sweaty place. We, the users, were moved on from feeling part of a community of like-minded souls and friends and became nothing more than sources of usable data. We were turned (on the Platform I’m saying) into exploitable objects.

Yet, many of us, even with that clear knowledge in our minds, stayed with FB and endured that excrutiating period when FB used a creeping method to algorithm us away from clear and concise contacts with our friends, and bastardised our Newsfeeds with so much unwanted crap.

And now … here we are at The Australian Independent Media Network (AIMN) … faced with a direct attack on our abilities at the community level to cross-platform share our joys and fears on issues that are important to us. Did FB even take a nanosecond to think about the fact that AIMN is not a Hard News site? AIMN is a collective of writers and readers (often quite interchangeable between both of those roles) who share opinion pieces on politics or environment etc, and who share their stories and insights with other like-minded souls. We are a community and we have a community presence on FB. I feel quite angry at how FB is treating the founders and owners of AIMN and how, from the FB point of view, not a shit is given to the years of effort that went into the building of this community. I know AIMN will survive, but kicks in the guts are kicks in the guts.

Talking of which .. I am part of a small FB Group called Survivors and Friends .. I’ve only just recently joined but they used FB to archive all their previous articles and Survivor stories .. their archive disappeared this morning. Which makes me doubly angry.

Why is this all happening?

Our gutless Government is owned lock stock and barrel by conservative media. Our monopoly mainstream media is jousting with the monopoly social media platforms to gouge whatever they can out of each others’ revenue streams. Without the backing of monopoly level conservative media our current Government would have been chucked out long ago. So no surprise that the Coalition is sucking up to Murdoch.

Bit trite for our Government to argue on behalf of Murdoch et al about how their revenue streams are being ripped off by the larger social media platforms, when that same Government is flaying the revenue streams of the ABC.

Meanwhile … AIMN, Survivors and Friends, and all of the other community level organisations who utilise FB to share their information were today told in no uncertain terms by FB to go and get stuffed. They were also shown that the only thing that trickles down to them from the 1% looks like, smells like, and is, shit.

Invitation To Country

[Extract: By the 22nd Century, perhaps earlier, it is my belief that the Uluru Statement From the Heart will be recognised as a watershed moment rising up and out from the endless Dreamings of Indigenous time. It will become the primary Foundation Document that enabled the future creation of a strongly independent and more culturally harmonious post-invasion Australia. Keith Davis 2021)]

I would like to attend an Indigenous ceremony that welcomes me to Country. Why would I like to do that? Well, over the course of my lifetime I have gathered my reasons.

The thought of Welcome to Country digs deep into the question of what it means to be an Australian in the modern era, and it asks what commonality of Identity do we all share as Australians given the wealth of different cultural backgrounds we all come from.

The Australian Identity problem, to me, appears to be that the dominant mainstream culture in Australia controls the narrative around what an Australian Identity really is. New Citizens to the country are welcomed in a largely anglo/celtic ceremonial way. Cannons boom, flags wave, Politicians drone their speeches, swearing on rather than at Bibles gets a look in, and the New Citizens get a spiffy Certificate devoid of any sort of heartfelt apology for all the hurtful hoops they had to jump through to be finally accepted here in the first place.

I don’t have a problem with the fact that I come from an anglo/celtic background, I’m proud of it, and I even have a tattoo of the Celtic Tree of Life on my left arm. So I don’t have a problem in that area – but where I do feel an unease is over the fact that New Citizens to this country are welcomed here by the usurpers of a never ceded Indigenous Sovereignty. Those usurpers, as the dominant culture, claim the right to conduct the Welcome to Country at the national level. Doesn’t seem right does it?

As the truth-telling of the bloody and brutally violent history of the recent takeover/theft of this land by Europeans takes traction in the consciousness of mainstream Australia, it appears to me that the time is right not only to reset not only how we see ourselves, but also to re-craft an Australian Identity that is inclusive of us all.

Nobody has to agree with my line of thought on these matters, it is my line of thought, and I am well aware that there are many different lines of thought on this subject matter out there. But in for a penny as well as a pound as the old saying goes …

As a blue-blood anglo/celtic Australian, blue-blood in the sense that my ancestors on both sides were convicts who were banished to the other side of the world for pilfering a bolt of cloth or something, I could easily sit back and feel smug about where I sit on the Australian Identity Continuum. I don’t however, sit back in such smugness.

On one level, undeniably, I’m Australian. I’m a citizen of this Commonwealth. I even drive a Holden which thankfully is not a Ute and it does not have ‘patriotic’ flags waving nationalistically out of every window.

On another level I feel distinctly unsettled about the type of Australian Identity that has been crafted for me over the last two Centuries or so by the dominant culture that currently holds sway in this land.

There are some undeniable facts that cannot be massaged or fiddled away because of the faux outraged pettiness of dominant cultures.

The oldest contiguous culture on this planet escaped total decimation/genocide after 1788 by the skin of its teeth. As Indigenous Culture resurges with ‘We have always been here, still are, and you will see us and hear us’ it gives all of us a chance to consider an identity reset.

It all makes me want to ask a question that I at least have never heard asked before.

Because I was born on this land in 1952, because I am of this land, because gum scent is in my nostrils and because red dirt layers the soles of my feet, am I part of the oldest contiguous culture on this planet, or am I just an add-on?

I have certain feelings on this matter but only an Indigenous person could probably give me a clear answer to that one – an Indigenous person whose ancestors and self never ceded their sovereignty to my ancestors, or to my self, or to anybody else.

As young Indigenous Activists, and older ones as well, prod us to acknowledge the truth of our own history, and encourage us to learn and grow and walk equally side by side with them, it raises so many questions about the underlying Spirit of contemporary Australia.

I take as a given my right to have a Representative Voice in our Parliament. That Parliament and the system of governance it represents derives from the background culture of the anglo/celts (not discounting the earlier input to that system of the Britons, Danes, Vikings, Normans etc etc) and the invading English dumped their system of values and laws on this shore, and those values and laws eventually morphed into our system of Parliamentary Governance, and that system rode roughshod over the Indigenous Sovereign Laws and Lore that had existed here for untold thousands of years.

So … here we have a Parliament. I have a Voice in that Parliament. But the original and still owners of this land are continually denied their Voice in Parliament and a seat around the grand parliamentary table by our politicians and by our mainstream culture. Demolishes the myth of Australian egalitarianism don’t you think?

The Uluru Statement From the Heart was a combined First Nation’ effort to reach out to us and offer up a shared way forward. Our Parliament, the Parliament that speaks in our name, viciously riposted to the Statement by dumping it and the attendant hopes in the rubbish bin. There was no effort to meet halfway, there was no meeting of Spirit. The utter rejection of the Statement blights us all.

I don’t believe that the Uluru Statement From the Heart will continue to lie quietly in the background, nor will it allow itself to be ignored. By the 22nd Century, perhaps earlier, it is my belief that the Uluru Statement From the Heart will be recognised as a watershed moment rising up and out from the endless Indigenous Dreamings of time. It will become the primary Foundation Document that enabled the future creation of a strongly independent and more culturally harmonious post-invasion Australia.

Big words those might be. Fact is we have to look back and acknowledge truth, then seek a way to move forward together. The Uluru Statement offers us that way forward.

Sometimes in life little moments happen in our interactions with other people and those moments stick around in the back of our skull boxes for some reason .. here’s an example of that.

Almost two years ago I did an epic road trip out into the Australian Deserts, not a bad effort for an avowed stay at home hermit. On the road between Lake Eyre and Uluru I stopped to assist some Aboriginal men whose car had broken down – long story short it created the need for another epic trip of sorts to the nearest but far away Aboriginal Settlement in order to pick up a hose to syphon petrol from my car to theirs. It made time for an interesting conversation …

The other blokes stayed with their car and their leader came with me and directed me on the quest to find that elusive hose. I’m paraphrasing from memory here a bit, and we had quite a few laughs along the way at our mutual ineptitude at trying to find something as simple as a bit of garden hose out in the Desert of all places, but here’s the gist of the conversation …

“For a White Fella you seem to at least have half a brain so I want to be truthed up. I know you sensed that things could have gone bad today. Well nothing went bad because we all said to each other he’s the only White Fella who stopped.”

As one does I thought of a couple of things … since they were six fine examples of Aboriginal manhood I reckon I’d have lasted a magnificent three seconds into the first Round , and then I asked him why would I be hated or be a target?

“You are not hated Brother. We don’t hate White Fellas. You are not hated because you were not scared like the others who flashed past and you stopped out here with us. What we hate is what your Mob did to us. We hate that.” Serious stuff, and laughs, it was quite a conversation. How could it not make me think about the need for real change in Australia?

Another short moment to relate … at the underground bar in Coober Pedy I had a conversation without words with an old Aboriginal man … we both sat there in an alcove amongst all that resplendent touristic finery with a bottle of Italian beer in our hands and our eyes met … without words we smiled at each other and clinked our bottles … again, it was quite a conversation … an old white hermit and an old black member of the oldest contiguous culture on this planet … both sitting there feeling out of time and place yet recognising each other and wishing each other the best of good cheer. You see, it really is possible, with the Spirit of meet, hands really can extend towards each other.

My wish to be Welcomed to Country by a representative of First Nations’ People might just seem like a hollow goody-two-shoes symbolic act by some, and others may tag me a leftist bleeding-heart wishing for the seemingly impossible. I don’t care because I am neither of those things. All of us as human beings have to work out for ourselves the values that we carry around in our own hearts. I do not buy into the Australian myth of who I am supposed to be, and nor will I allow any Identity to be imposed upon me.

Only an Indigenous person can tell me whether or not my wish to be truly Welcomed to Country is culturally appropriate from their point of view. If they say no I’ll say fair enough. However, if they say yes and “quit yapping on about it you old bozo and get your skinny skin over here so we can get the thing done”, well, I’ll scoot over there with bells on.

All of us think, and I’m sure that most of you realise that, given the bloody nature of the earlier history of Australia, for any one of us to be truly Welcomed to Country by an Indigenous person is not a light flick-away feel-good thing. It is not like the Welcome to Country that we get when we attend the first day of a Cricket Test.

To be truly Welcomed to Country requires both parties to stand together, and look back together, and for one party to acknowledge the pain and suffering caused and the generational disadvantage imposed and the benefits accrued to that party by being a modern day beneficiary of all the terrible things that went on before, and for the other party to speak and be heard and to not hold back on the depth of the wounding and pain and that deepest deepest sense of loss. So there is nothing ephemeral about such a real Welcome to Country. That is my view.

Such a meeting of true Spirit could have the power to resonate strongly and cut through the apathy and judgemental indifference and the spurning that our, our, mainstream culture directs towards the First Nations’ People of this land. Like anything else in Australia real change on serious issues comes from the ground up, it comes from individual people who see the need for change coming together to create that change.

Before I die I want to be Welcomed to Country, my country, by the only People who can do such a thing. I don’t want pomp and ceremony, booming cannons, political double-speak, hands on supposedly holy books, or any other of that made up guff. I want to be drawn into, and invited to feel a welcomed part of, the timeless Spirit of this Land.

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Body of Evidence – Older Survivors and the Law

Over time the Australian Independent Media Network (AIMN) has, amongst many of the other things it does, proven itself to be a sensitive and non-judgemental supporter of Survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It has provided Survivors a platform to express their sometimes quite raw and confronting stories.

As a Survivor who was afforded such an opportunity by AIMN I fully realise that in this life you cannot just take, it also requires that you stand up and give back. There must be a balancing in such things.

As I write this I am thinking about Survivors in my age group who might just now be thinking of whether, after the passing of the majority of their lifetime, they should finally embark on the difficult legal journey to attain justice and redress.

They represent a cohort of Survivors in our society who will never get the chance to stand up in Court and directly confront their abusers. They will never get that chance because their abusers are long dead, and those Survivor’s claims for justice and fair compensation are deemed to be historical, and therefore, very difficult to prove.

I am specifically directing this article to Survivors of my generation. I am soon to be 69 years old. My experiences were hardly unique. How those experiences impacted on my whole life may be unique to me, but the abuse experiences themselves represent a commonality of experience unfortunately endured by far too many children in those years that are now almost a full lifetime ago.

To prosecute a case for justice in the modern era, when the events under scrutiny occurred well over 60 years ago, and whether that abuse occurred in an Institution or in the family home, is a very difficult process for older Survivors to go through. That is a truth, but it is a truth that does not minimise the difficulties any Survivor, of any age, goes through when they gather up their courage and seek acknowledgement, or fairness, or a lifting of their carried burden.

Two years ago I reached the end of a very personally arduous civil litigation process. It took 60 years of living before I developed the courage to stand up and seek justice. With hindsight, I can now say that I was woefully unprepared to enter that legal process. If you care to read my book, JAGGED (it is free on the Net/AIMN) you will quickly see how unprepared I was.

Still, every experience teaches us something. For any older Survivor contemplating the starting of their own legal journey I would like to offer up a tip, just a small nod to one of the ‘learnings’ that I experienced along the legal way.

The legal experience taught me about Body of Evidence. Nobody told me about it, I had to find out about if for myself. You may well ask what is it that I mean by the statement Body of Evidence?

When the perpetrators of your abuse are long dead, when they cannot be directly confronted for their deeds, all you have to fall back on is the veracity of your own story, which will be determinidly questioned throughout the legal process, and the body of evidence that you have accumulated over the course of your lifetime.

In other words You are your own body of evidence. As you reach your 60s and 70s the measurable legacies and impacts that you have carried over the course of your lifetime become your answer to the hurdle of burden of proof.

As best you can, it pays to pre-prepare before you pick up the phone and contact a legal firm.

There are specifics that you can list out before you embark on any litigation path. Your chosen legal team will then later help you to put such information in a more cogent and effective form. The following are but a few examples and they may or may not apply to you.

1/ Inability to hold consistent employment.
2/ Inability to maintain effective relationships.
3/ Inability to trust.
4/ Continual fears and always being hyper-aware or on guard.
5/ No self-esteem.
6/ The belief that the setbacks in your life are solely your fault and deserved.
7/ The annoyance of scattered or unfocused thinking.

The legacies that you may carry can also be measured and described by professionals at the psychiatric level. These can include some or all of the following.

1/ Chronic Depression.
3/ Agoraphobia.
4/ Melancholy/sadness.
5/ Addictions to drugs/alcohol – either as now and then self-medication or as a lifelong addiction.
6/ Diminished life potential.
7/ Inability to ‘hold down’ the bad memories as you age.
8/ Anti-authoritarianism.

I did not pre-prepare. Didn’t even think of pre-preparing. So I urge you to do so. My exposure to psychiatric forensic questioning during the legal process came on in a rush and I faded away under the pressure of it. Organise a strong support network for yourself before you initiate legal proceedings.

I cannot advise any other Survivor regarding which path of litigation is best for you to go down. But I can at least reiterate this tip. Prepare your Body of Evidence first. It will be a difficult thing to do and face up to. But it is worth doing – and it may well in part protect you from the ambushing and tearing down that is an untold component of any legal process that any Survivor, of any age, may experience as they embark on a journey for justice.

Remember: As an older Survivor – you are the Living Evidence, you have lived the life, your very being is the Proof, you are your own Body of Evidence of the lifelong affects and legacies that your experiences of childhood abuse imposed on you. Put it all down on paper. Compile a formidable document. Gather good support around yourself. Represent yourself with strength.

Regards Keith

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Conversations with Ernie Dingo

So here we go again, ‘Strayla Day’. Hype. Flag waving. White people not giving any sort of a real shit. Those born into privilege walking all over those who were not. How can anyone celebrate this day of infamy?

Which has nothing to do with Ernie Dingo.

Met him about 20 years ago at a Qld Folk Festival. Being a shy hermit I walked up to him and totally stretched myself into hopefully some form of intelligent vocalisation. I said “Hello Mr. Dingo”. He smiled, flashed his pearly whites, and we shook hands. And that was the end of that.

Of course it was not the end of that. It was the start of something.

I have watched his career on Television over many years. I have watched his interviews with many people from multiple ethnic backgrounds. And do you know what I have noticed? Everyone he talks with greets and leaves him with a smile. There is no hate in the man. He is so Aboriginal … yet there is no hate in the man.

When I met him all those years ago he did not dump guilt on me. He simply said “G’day Mate.”

I have never had a full and long conversation with Ernie Dingo. My loss. I wish such a conversation had come my way.

The bullshit of Australia Day embarrasses me. The warmth and love, to a white stranger, from a man like Ernie Dingo, humbles me.

It makes me stand back and think about many things.

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Straight old white man

Stan Grant (wonderful man) is currently hosting One on One on the ABC. He is exploring the notion of IDENTITY with various more than interesting guests. It has made me think about what sort of tribe I identify with, it has made me think about who am I as a human being, it has made me think about who am I?

On the surface I am a straight old white man. Gosh … on the surface … so easy to vilify. Think Trump. Think Putin. Think Australian CEO’s. Think power imbalances, think historical power elites who use their strength and financial power to keep out the ‘others’ and protect their own entitlement.

But that is not me.

I look at my skin. It is white. I look at my age. I am old. I look at my sexual orientation … it is straight. Big fucking deal … none of that defines who I am as a human being.

Because of my appearance people tag me in a certain way. A privileged person. A person who has benefited from the early brutal invasion of Australia that demolished a beautiful and wonderful Aboriginal culture.

Yet … yet … yet. I was born on this land in 1952. I am of this land. I know no other land. Early last year when I drove out to Uluru and placed my hand on the Rock it spoke to me and it accepted me and it said (no matter how you got here) you are of this land. The Red Dirt is under my fingernails, the air of this land is in my lungs. This is my land and I am part of it. I do not belong anywhere else. I have nowhere to go back to.

I am a Survivor of extreme childhood sexual abuse. If you simply see me as a straight old white man then you are dithering yourself in stupidity.

Your skin colour means nothing to me. Your sexual orientation means nothing bad to me. The nature of your heart … however … ah … that’s where we start to address the real things.

If you have a good heart … then you are of my Tribe.

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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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