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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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 ?


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Our Compelling Witness!

Thousands upon thousands of Survivors of childhood sexual abuse could have written this brief article.

Their experiences may differ from mine in detail. But what we all have in common together is that we are living proof of the negative legacy that our experiences of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church has had upon the course of our whole lives. We are the most compelling of witnesses where the highlighting of this type of heinous crime is concerned.

Across all legal cases where witness is borne against the Catholic Church, and other institutions, there exists an echo of commonality.

From 1957 through to 1964 I experienced much abuse including being physically assaulted and sodomised by a Catholic Priest in the Church Sacristy of St. Vincent’s Orphanage, Nudgee, near Brisbane. That rape experience was not one of a kind. I was subject to far more than that over an interminable period of time.

There were no ‘dissenting’ witnesses to my experiences, there were no ‘witnesses of opportunity’ rounded up to oppose my case and support the Church. Yet my case was so easily minimised and pushed aside by the power of the Catholic Church – I was brow beaten into accepting a minor settlement and I did not even receive the pretence of an apology.

How many other Survivors of childhood sexual abuse have also been terrorised down that path by the Catholic Church?

Today, a judgement was handed down in the highest Court in this country. One man had his day in court. Some people are concerned that from now on Survivors will be reluctant to come forward. Some may be, but many of us will not be dissuaded from our efforts to achieve real and lasting justice.

I will re-pursue the Catholic Church. Many other Survivors will pursue or re-persue the Catholic Church.

We are the most Compelling of Witnesses!

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A Serf in the time of plague …

Greetings, and salutations on vellum even, to my fellow manorial slaves. There be plague in the realm!

Just did my six-monthly visit to the village market, the one held in the shade of the Baron’s castle, but there was nothing there. No skinned lamprey or skewered rabbit stewing with high and lovely rancidness in the heat of the sun, there were no regaling bards, the only other Peasants I saw were fighting over small rolls of parchment squares. The days of woe are upon us! Thank Boudicca of old that I grow my own turnips!

Met the Town Cryer on my way back to my hovel. He yelled at me from a great distance …

“Hey Serf, yeah you. Normally I don’t waste time acclaiming at you lot but today I’m delivering a new proclamation and I’m exclaiming it all across the realm, in a really loud voice. The King, queen, baron, lord, knight, duke, or whoever else last razed the land, and had their foot firmly on your yokel neck, now officially loves you for all to see!”

I confess to having had unkind hovel type thoughts upon hearing his words. They didn’t love us Serfs yesterday, predictably they will not love us Serfs tomorrow, so what is so different about today?

I summoned up the best of my speech and said the medieval equivalent of “Huh?” – I even reached forward in time and said the Elizabethan equivalent of that wonderful profanity “God’s Teeth!” – all of which flew blithely over the Cryer’s head. He stuck to the script.

“’tis true Serf. The realm is in peril. The plague be upon us. Here’s a golden coin from the Baron, buy up big on the lamprey and rabbit and parchment squares, keep his cess-pit cleaners in work cleaning his cess-pits, save his Manor, and his power over you, and his exalted way of life from ruin!”

Oh, I thought, in a Serf sort of way, once the plague passes the plan is for everything to revert back to the way they always were. Foot on the neck of the Peasants. Continue to starve-up and tax to death the minion serf-labourers. Allow the Barons and Knights to get back to doing the best of their worst – demonising the Serfs and blaming the Peasants for being lowly poor Peasants. Now where’s the goodness in that deal I thought?

The Town Cryer, being fast and mean, must have read my thoughts …

“But be warned Serf! That gold coin shall be returned in full, and then some, once the plague passes. And there be new surveillance constables lurking the land. Anybody seen in the company of Wat Tyler is dungeon bound!”

Wat was a revolting Peasant back in 1391. He wanted all these new ‘we care for you Peasants truly ruly’ proclamations to become permanent after the plague passed. He wanted the newly dropped hovel taxes to stay that way. He wanted the Barons a little poorer and the Peasants a little richer and all standing a little closer together on fiscal common ground. He wanted, back then, this new rush of empathy for all us Serfs to become fixed in the consciousness of the realm.

Perhaps, in the modern era, he might have wanted a UBI, or a Jobs Guarantee?

From the Barons: “Keep ’em housed. Keep ’em fed. Promise ’em anything to keep ’em quiet. Once the Plague has passed we’ll march right back in again and walk all over ’em. The power, and the entitlement, remains ours!”

So stuff the exhortations of the Cryer on behalf of the Barons, I’m having a meeting and a mead with Wat Tyler tonight!

From Wikipedia: (some words about what happened just after the Black Death scoured the land) – Walter “Wat” Tyler (died 15 June 1381) was a leader of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt in England. He marched a group of rebels from Canterbury to the capital to oppose the institution of a poll tax and to demand economic and social reforms. While the brief rebellion enjoyed early success, Tyler was killed by officers loyal to King Richard II during negotiations at Smithfield, London.

Subsequently Richard II revoked all the concessions he had made.

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The speech we need, but will never hear …

“I am your Prime Minister. I am the elected leader of the Australian people.

It has been said, and said many times over, that we do indeed, now, because of COVID-19, live in unprecedented times.

The political divide that has riven our country for the last decade must end now. No more is there room, in our current circumstance, for the pettiness of point-scoring, or for the ideological need to be ‘right’.

I stand on a mandate given to me by roughly half of the Australian people. And I do realise, that I cannot speak for all of you, I realise that I can only speak for a percentage of you.

We now, as a nation, need the combined voices of reason to steer our country through a period that represents nothing less than a direct challenge to everything that we as a society hold dear. We now, as a nation, need the best that all of us have to offer.

So effectively tonight, in the immediacy of this moment of now, the National Cabinet will be re-constituted to fully represent The Australian People.

The leader of the ALP, and the leader of the Greens, will now sit in the National Cabinet, with full and equal input.

All of us, as political leaders, and as representatives of you, The People, listening to the best of the advice of our health and economic experts, will endeavour to steer our country through these unprecedented times.”

Yeah, I know, some of you are going to say ‘dream on’. But we sure as shit need for something like this to happen in the current circumstances. The decisions that are being made at the moment are being made by people who do not fully represent the Australian people, they only represent a percentage of The People.

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Eating Tomatoes in Portugal – some AIMN fun!

Feel like a break from all the bad news?

Well here we are, the AIMN writers and regular commenters on those articles, spending plenty of time at home. We are all part of the AIMN community, commenters and writers both . As a Voice from the Serf Hovel type of writer I sprout up now and then and I feel as though I am part of something – a community of generally like-minded souls.

And in these testing times why shouldn’t we all have a bit of fun?

So here’s the happy challenge. I’m going to pick a subject out of the hat, and I’m inviting you to present your comment as a mini-article on that subject. Make it as funny/satirical/biting as you can and you can weave any issue you like into the subject – we could all do with a happy, or even a wry, laugh at the mo.

And the subject wafting in from left-field is …

EATING TOMATOES IN PORTUGAL (don’t blame me – it was in the hat!)

Here’s the first cab off the rank … memories from the Hippie Trail circa 1979 … I’m making at least some of it up as I go along.

“Bong. My wind chimes do that too I think. Lovely fit in the hand. Lovely sound as well. What was I about to say? Oh yes. Why would I want to marry Wana anyway? She was never in Portugal with the tomatoes. Killer Tomatoes, great movie, umm, this sentence has nothing to do with Portugal or the lack of tinned tomatoes on shelves so I kindly ask this sentence to stop. Did I just say that? Can’t remember if I did. Should the Coalition drink Mateus? If they drained Portugal dry they’d still have their heads up their rears. Need a bit of loosening up that lot. The Algarve. I ate tomatoes there once for three days in the shade of the Kombi. Gave me the runs and red spray in the morning Sailors’ warning or was it something to do with Shepherds at night? Can’t remember. I’ve totally forgotten what I’m supposed to be saying here. Ah yes, that’s it, time for a re-pack of the sound of the wind chimes. Here’s to the delight of eating tomatoes in Portugal!”

I don’t doubt that all of you can do far better than that. Go for it – we could all do with a good laugh!

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The end of the Newstart Criminal?

Happy days. The unemployed will now no longer be demonised as dole bludgers or Newstart Criminals. From now on they will be known as Australians in need.

Mind you, it has taken a crisis of unprecedented proportions to force a sliver of care, empathy, and compassion, into the punitive hearts of our right-wing politicians.

Could it be perhaps that the speed with which our Government has dropped their policy of the deliberate impoverishment of the poor and the unemployed could be due to the fact that now, given the ever-growing lines outside Centrelink, a proportion of their conservative base is about to be exposed to the untender mercies of our welfare system?

Can’t call your own voters dole bludgers or leaners can you? Gosh, how cynical of me.

Many people, and nobody alive would wish it on them, are about to find out what it will take to survive with a fortnightly income of roughly $1,100. But let’s bring that down to what the weekly income will be. $550. If you are single and live in your own home and have a mortgage of $500 per week you’ll be left with $50 per week to take care of everything else. Food, energy bills, petrol, phone, car repairs, and everything else. Reality. Not good.

If you are single and renting you will roughly get $550 per week plus a rental allowance of $69.50 per week. If you are paying $300 a week rent (and average regional rents, let alone city rents, are much higher than that) you will be leading a fairly tough and restricted lifestyle. Reality. Not good.

Of course, individual circumstances for the unemployed vary widely. Some people are in relationships and have children, and will be eligible for further support. But in all cases, things will be very, very, tight. Reality. Not good.

But lest we forget. Up until a week ago the unemployed, including those who lost their jobs during the last catastrophic bushfire season, were expected to survive on the paltry sum of roughly $275 per week. At the same time, they had to endure the demonisation of ‘dole bludging’ foisted upon them by their own Government, the nong commercial television channels, the conservative press, and far too many of their fellow citizens.

Let’s hope that when we come out on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis that the rush of empathy for the unemployed and the poor becomes permanently welded onto the hearts, souls, and guts of the bureaucrats and politicians who design and maintain the safety net of our Welfare System.

(What is the average rent in Australia? $436 per week. The median rent across Australia is currently $436 per week, according to a new report from property research house CoreLogic. In capital cities, it’s $465 per week, while the regional areas have it slightly cheaper at $378. and pls note: these figures are as of a year ago!)

(According to research from Commonwealth Bank in 2017, average monthly mortgage payments in Australia’s capital cities range from $1,500 to over $3,000.)

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COVID-19 and the coming surge of violence against Women …

If you doubt the truth of the above title in an Australian context …

Simply google 1/ COVID-19 isolation could create ‘fertile ground for domestic violence’ (From: euractiv.com). 2/ Fears of domestic violence (From: https://www.dw.com/en/top-stories/s-9097).

The studies on this matter are already coming out of China, Germany, and France.

From France

“On the day that France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced sweeping plans to go into a 15-day period of enforced lockdown from Tuesday, concerns also arose as to the potential increase in cases of gender-based domestic violence, following a previous surge in China under similar conditions.

The crisis that we are going through and the quarantine could unfortunately create a fertile ground of domestic violence, read a statement from France’s Secretary of State in charge of Gender Equality, Marlène Schiappa, adding that with the new quarantine measures in France, “the situation of emergency shelters for female victims of domestic violence is a major concern.”

From Germany

“Shelters and counseling centers also fear that domestic and sexual violence among adults will increase significantly in the coming weeks as more people work from home. Others face being made redundant or have already been let go due to the economic repercussions of coronavirus — adding to stressful circumstances in the home.

Similar trends have already been reported in China where in some places, the number of domestic abuse cases was three times as high as usual after weeks of strict isolation measures.”

“Under the current measures in place in Germany, the violent partner is less likely to leave the apartment, making it almost impossible for victims to reach out and call advice centers,” Katja Grieger from the Federal Association of Women’s Counselling and Rape Crisis Centers (bff) told DW.

Australia is currently experiencing the sad sight of people, under the pressure of anxiety and fear, unleashing aggression upon each other in our supermarkets and chemist shops. We have not even begun to think about the level of aggression that is about to be unleashed on some women in some of our homes.

On March 28, at 11 am, I am standing on my footpath (observing all of the current ‘social distancing’ regulations, with a sign saying that I oppose the level of violence directed at women. Under the auspices of The March of Decent Men (Facebook) I invite you, man or woman, to do the same.

Let’s stop it before it starts to happen.

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AIMN is a wonderful platform. Within reason they let us writers explore the boundaries of what can be.

I’m about to be.

On the personal level …

Two Australian women in their 60s, Diana and Sherryl, one of whom happens to be my best friend, and both from the Sunshine Coast, are currently stranded in Ecuador. They have done everything possible to meet the request of DFAT to fly home ASAP. They have managed to secure a flight home on the 6th of April. That is the only flight available to them, because airlines are shutting down across the board. There is no guarantee that the flight will even eventuate.

The 6th of April is far too late.

I bear in mind Laura Tingle’s hint on ABC today – “All the signs are now in place that, along with the rest of the world, Australia is likely to completely close its doors in the period ahead.”

My friends are stranded. They need help. Now.

Other Australians are stranded, they need help now.

I have to ask. Surely if the Government is sending a ‘survival financial package’ the way of our airlines, then surely either Qantas, or Virgin, under government guidance, can find a spare jet or two to rescue ALL Australians who are stranded overseas?

I ask that question. And I’ll keep on asking it. Are we going to abandon our own?

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We need a COVID-19 Unity Cabinet now!

We all know, and can see on a growing daily basis, how thin and fragile the fabric of our society really is.

COVID-19 is testing our ability as a people to pull together. It is testing our sense of community. It is testing our notion of the Fair Go for everyone. It is testing our nerve as a nation.

The economic ramifications of COVID-19 are immense, they are unprecedented. Totally uncharted waters. Recession. Unemployment. Fear.

Now is not the time for political/ideological divides. Now is not the time for political ego. Now is not the time to throw blame. Now is not the time for could have, or should have. Now is not the time for point scoring.

Now is the time for Unity.

The sight of older and infirm people being pushed aside by the frenzied rush of others to seek advantage is a political, moral, and societal wake up call for all of us.

Now is the time for the leaders of the ALP, the Coalition, and the Greens to stand together on the one podium. Now is the time for all of them to speak with one voice.

Our nation needs calming. Our nation needs leadership. The spiralling levels of anxiety and fear need immediate dampening. The stimulus packages need to be well thought out and delivered quickly.

I believe that a temporary COVID-19 Emergency Cabinet needs to be formed to guide our nation through this crisis over the next six months. An Emergency Cabinet consisting of the best minds that the Coalition, the ALP, and the Greens, can come up with. We need unity at this time, we do not need division. Political allegiances need to be pushed aside by all for the welfare of all.

The policies that are being rolled out now are affecting all of us, and they will affect all of us for quite a long time, but those policies are coming out of only one side of the political divide. These policies should be coming out of the minds of the best and brightest on either side of the political divide.

Now is not the time for politics as usual. Now is the time for a very different, and urgent, approach.

Morrison, Albanese, and Bandt need to quickly sit down together. They need to forge common cause, they need to get over their differences, they need to get out there now, together, and guide and lead our nation. In the face of this crisis they need to drop the political ‘need to win’. They need to become Leaders.

All three should stand together and deliver addresses to the nation. All three should be involved in emergency planning sessions. All three should be exposed to the immediacy of COVID-19 updates from our best medical experts. All three should roundtable with experts on policies designed to bulwark, and as best as it can be done given the circumstances, limit the undoubted damage that our economy is about to suffer.

We remain a democracy of sorts. There is plenty of time for political argy-bargy and point scoring to return before the next election comes around. But now is not the time for that. Right now we need unity.

Right now we need a combined form of leadership to guide and protect our nation.

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