The Rise of the Desk Clerk Academic

It is a particularly quotidian breed in the modern, management-driven university. The…

Elections demand transparency to halt schemes by Christofascists…

West Australia’s council elections seem a strange place to pinpoint a warning…

SAC takes on CPAC

By Brian Morris Secular Australia justifiably expects equal media attention to that given…

Why Anthony Albanese Must Go!!

Don't you just love the ambiguity of language? I mean it helps so…

Anthem for Tomorrow’s Child

By Roger Chao Anthem for Tomorrow’s Child Dear child of mine, a seed of…

Inter-Generational Trauma

Trauma slithers epigenetically through time with nipping-sharp teeth. It fastens to bloodlines…

Reaching Out to the Metropolitan Growth Corridors in…

By Denis Bright Metropolitan growth plans for inner city and outer suburban residential…

Experts Call For Transfer of Last Refugees in…

Media Release Religious leaders and healthcare professionals present Open Letters calling for the immediate transfer to Australia of the…


God did not save the defenceless children . . . we had to save ourselves

The Royal Commission that is exposing the appalling litany of abuse suffered by defenceless children under the care of various religious institutions is a welcome first step. It is a welcome first step in the never ending process of healing that all of us who experienced this horror must pursue to the best of our ability – and pursue often to the end of our days.

I have spent many years consciously chasing that sense of ‘healing’.

I am only going to give you a very brief snapshot of my own personal experience. There is no point making a novel of it.

From five years old on I spent my childhood in a Catholic Orphanage at Nudgee near Brisbane. That orphanage was staffed by the Sisters of Mercy and various priests appeared from time to time. To say the least it was not a lot of fun.

What I experienced was not unique. Unfortunately it was all too common.

The beatings hurt. The physical and verbal abuse hurt. I was only a child but I knew that what they were doing was absolutely wrong.

The unmentionable horrors perpetrated upon me by one clerical type robbed my childhood of any sense of joy.

As a child I did not know how to protect myself. As a child I did not have the physical strength to do that. As a child I lived with the constant knowledge that the Sisters of Mercy did not have the courage to step in and stop the horror. The sad part is, where some of my experiences are concerned, some of those Sisters of Mercy were themselves the vile perpetrators.

But here I wish to diverge and not run down some sort of negative or depressing path. You see … I don’t see myself as any sort of victim at all. That was then and this is now. I can’t change the horrific experiences of my past but I sure as heck can live in the present.

My experiences taught me that you cannot undervalue love, empathy, or compassion … because the opposites of those … hate, judgement, abuse, and inequality … tear down the better side of our humanity.

My experiences taught me that while some religious types might truly personify evil in all its forms … not all religious types are like that. In fact, one Sister of Mercy instilled into me an absolute love of reading, writing, and the power of critical analytical thought. How good was that!

My experiences taught me that I should always have the courage of my own convictions. Those experiences taught me to never just ‘go with the comfortable flow’ and agree with things that my heart disagrees with. Whatever the consequence …

I don’t underplay what happened to either me or all of the other children who were abused in those religious institutions. The experiences were indescribably bloody awful. But they have not left me vengeance ridden.

All of those experiences formed me.

I’m now a 62 year old tall thin streak of a hippie atheist dude who can actually manage to spell the words Social Justice. Those experiences forged a strong belief within me that love for one’s fellow man is not just a good way to go … it is the only way to go.

I applaud the good work the Royal Commission is doing. And I am thankful that my childhood experiences have at least had one positive outcome … they have finally turned me into the sort of human being that I have now become.

And that gives me much joy!



Login here Register here
  1. Loz

    Great article Keith! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Anne Daniels

    Thank you for your comments Keith. I am a proud leftie athiest 60 year old who has experienced a cruel catholic upbringing from a few nuns. It looks like you have come out of your experience as best you could under the circumstances and all credit to you.

    My muse was a priest who I looked up to and treasured. He was such a good friend to me and brought to me an understanding of life and its tribulations. He was one out of the box, completely unorthodox and so uncatholic, but, like me, there are hundreds of people who he guided throughout their younger years. I’ve never heard one bad word about him and, 40+ years later, people still talk about his generosity of spirit.

    I am so proud of Julia Gillard for getting this RC underway. I hope it has shaken the churches and organisations, regardless of faith, to the core. One can hope can’t one. I do struggle though with the limited terms of reference.

    I have studied what happened to me and have seen research papers and the general consensus is that the outcome of childhood emotional and physical abuse are on a par with sexual abuse. The few times I have commented on this people have jumped on me to argue that it isn’t so. As someone subjected to emotional and physical abuse by the nuns and as someone who was sexually abused by someone outside the church, for me, the nun’s abuse has had far more of an affect on my life. But then I guess that’s just me. I understand it is complex but I would have appreciated a broader spectrum of terms of reference. I know of many people who experienced cruelty by religious during their childhoods and for many, it has affected them greatly as well.

    I am following the RC closely and am so very happy for those who will get an outcome for themselves, and while nothing will get to the core of their pain, it will hopefully lessen some it.

  3. David

    Appreciate you contributing that Keith.

  4. darrel nay

    Thanks Keith,
    So the judiciary is investigating the church – hmmm! Surely there couldn’t be a case which better exemplifies the old adage of “the pot calling the kettle black.

  5. DanDark

    Whilst reading Keith’s brief insight in this reflection of his childhood
    One word came to mind and that is resiliance, and that takes courage, strength and focus
    And this example of resiliance you have penned of your childhood gives others that have been a victim of abuse hope that life can go on and be a positive experience for them too.
    Yep I checked the spelling on Social Justice and it’s correct
    maybe the world needs more 62 yr old atheist dudes to focus on Social Justice 🙂
    like the author of this sad but true story of life in a catholic orphanage in this country.

    [ri-zil-yuh ns, -zil-ee-uh ns]
    Spell Syllables
    Examples Word Origin
    the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
    ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.
    Origin of resilience Expand

  6. kerri

    Thanks for sharing your story Keith! My mum was raised a Catholic and suffered physical and psychological abuse from the nuns because she was from a “mixed marriage”. Her older brother became ambidextrous because to use the left hand was “the devil’s work”. He later became an alcoholic and died a lonely death of cirrhosis of the liver in a psych ward with no spouse and no children. I often wonder what else he may have suffered?. Mum was bludgeoned enough with Catholic guilt to remain a believer and force us to go to sunday school at a different church. The hypocrisy there astounded me. My father (85) still believes the little girl who sat on his lap and wiggled was evil rather than believing she had been molested by her previous sunday school teacher as had many of the girls. Fortunately the asshole was discovered before I reached his class. I will have no respect for any religion until the day that religions accept their role as enablers of child sexual abuse. Pell is the lowest of the low lunging for his lawyers at the tiniest hint he has ignored the crimes of his peers.
    But you, my friend, Keith, represent the extraordinary resilience of a survivor! I do not mean to denigrate those whose suffering has denied them a “normal” life, but Keith, people like you help many others whose stories are yet to be exposed. I salute your bravery and applaud your strength, and am so happy I never had to endure what you and so many others have. The sheer numbers still shock me to my core!

  7. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    The arrogance and sense of God-given right which has enabled so many so-called religious people to cause so much harm is frightening.
    The fact that we now have a Prime Minister who comes from that background gives me even greater concern because he can and does influence so many people to ignore the pain and needs of so many who are being damaged by the government’s present policies.
    We are all entitled to be treated according to our abilities and our needs not brushed on one side or abused because we are not of the elect few.

  8. townsvilleblog

    I consider myself to be a humanitarian with empathy and compassion, if I were able I would help to save the little children from starvation by the use of contraception pills and condoms and from the monstrous sexual abuse of children by consigning perpetrators to a life sentence in a prison on an island the furthermost away from the Australian mainland, somewhere like Christmas Island for life. After committing the most heinous crime of all they don’t deserve any rights that Australian citizens enjoy, they deserve the lowest of human rights. However as long as we have some people going short of food in Australia and some taking home millions of dollars every year, we cannot call ourselves a humanitarian nation, this situation is far from fair.

  9. townsvilleblog

    P.S. I don’t believe in the invisible man either, this brain wash has become redundant due to the educational level rising, however sadly that does not mean that well educated people don’t still join churches or cults pretending to be churches aka the assembly of god cult, which these days has many many names.

  10. Harquebus

    I also consider the indoctrination of minors to religion as child abuse. Religion is a blight on humanity and needs to be destroyed.

    Just something I came across and can not vouch for its accuracy. It could just be propaganda.
    “It is permissible for the mujahid [jihadi] to enjoy young boys in the absence of women.”
    “It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse”

  11. Colin Penfold

    I having been a victim of physical abuse as a child and survived Catholic education your story hit home i spent a long time healing.It was something i had to deal with on my own. But your right Keith you can not change the past and i have moved forward i have come to terms with it.We can make this world better or worse and we need to love our follow Man I agree 100%

  12. eli nes

    When I was old enough, I understood, why my dad’s little sister often stayed at our place and was threatened by the priest with damnation and appreciated the impressive power needed to defy the churn of immaculate indoctrination, it became obvious that religion, like porn and politics, is by men for men.
    She ran away with a lovely man, a veteran from the Somme and they had a great 10 years.
    But, to the relief of the family, she was welcomed back into the church when the slimy priest died. Fortunately, Dad, Uncle Stan and I stayed as heathen atheists.
    Harquebus – pederasts and pedophiles abound in male societies and are not rare in parts of Australia.
    When a man is drunk any warm hole will do and it is not classed as ‘lying with a man’ in homosexual or biblical terms. Any indiscretion is easily absolved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

Return to home page
%d bloggers like this: