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St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage: Criminal acts, sadism, and nightmares …

It is time to speak of terrible things.

The Sisters of Mercy. The Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. To date I have not accused either entity of direct personal responsibility for failing to protect me from the perpetration of a series of criminal acts upon my person. I do so now. Publicly, and without reserve.

Gag Orders are terrible, and binding, legal things. I am partially subject to one. Powerful people and institutions use them to silence their victims. That’s as straight a statement as you are ever likely to read.

Sometimes silence needs to be broken. I’m breaking it.

The content of my legal Testimony against the Catholic Church, and the Sisters of Mercy, has been muted, and sidelined, and buried under tons of legalese and gagging. Well I’m sick of all that. I’m sick of the politeness and restraint that fear of ramification, fear of blow back, and fear of being targeted, forced upon me.

I’m sick of fear and silence. My abuse experiences are deemed to be historical. I deem them, and their affects on me, to be relevant, contemporary, and in my face every day.

Here are the objective facts … at times not easy reading. I will not filter out the truth.

Note: Following on from here I provide detail of my abuse experiences in St. Vincent’s Orphanage in Nudgee, Brisbane. The details may be upsetting for some people. In the past I have skirted around them, but I can no longer do that.

I’m not an orphan, yet I ended up at St. Vincent’s Orphanage when I was five years old. I lived there between 1957 and 1964. I had parents who could no longer hold their relationship together, and back in the 1950s that was a fast conduit to children ending up in State Care.

Children. There were four of us. We were separated and doled out by the State of Queensland. My two older sisters were sent to Nazareth House at Wynnum, a Catholic Orphanage, and my older brother and I were sent to St. Vincent’s at Nudgee near Brisbane, another Catholic Orphanage. My brother was in the older boys’ section, I was in the younger boys’ section. Separated, no mutual support.

I have no idea what my brother and sisters experienced in the Orphanages. We have never discussed, or shared, our experiences. We made belated attempts, later in our young adult lives, to forge some sort of, any sort of, familial bond. It didn’t work, and we drifted permanently apart.

St. Vincent’s Orphanage at Nudgee. Run by the Sisters of Mercy. Here’s what I experienced, which is but another awful variation of what so many others experienced. It was a bloody nightmare.

Beatings. I received a lot of them. Open-handed, closed fists, belts, razor strops. Some of the Sisters were very angry people and they took their frustrations out on me, and others. And what was I at the time when it all started? A defenceless five year old.

The food. It was awful. The best that can be said about it is that it kept you alive. It was contaminated and sub-standard. Because I was so thin and malnourished I was forced, once the regular meal was finished, to sit on a bench at a special table, the skinny kids’ table, and forced to consume a second meal of cerevite porridge under the staring gaze of all. The taunts were never ending … special skinny kids, special skinny kids, something wrong with them … you can imagine what that did to the psyche of a five year old.

The bloat of stomach pain lingers in my memory. The open-handed slaps to the side of my head from the Sisters when I could not finish the second meal lingers in my memory. The taunts stuck. Not only did the Sisters not stop them, they doubled-down and reinforced them with their stinging slaps. But all of that was just background stuff, always there, always endured.

Oral Rape. I was five/six years old. I was dragged into a closed room in the dormitory and assaulted by an adult male. The feeling of being smothered has never left me. He covered my nostrils with his hand and he gagged my mouth with his penis. I couldn’t breathe. I was terrified. When he finished he punched me, closed fist, and promised more of the same if I said anything. Where were my so-called protectors, where were the Sisters of Mercy? The assault happened in a Nun’s bedroom. To this day I cannot stand to be in a closed space with curtains.

Anal Rape. I was hauled before a Head Nun because my serge shorts, special shorts that we got to wear to mass on Sunday, were soiled on the rear. She physically beat me with a razor strop for soiling the shorts and would not listen to anything I tried to say. The beating was body-wide and it totally demolished me.

And why were the shorts soiled? They were soiled with leakage from my rectum. Semen, excreta, and blood. I was an Alter Boy, and I had been anally raped by the Priest who had visited to say Mass. There was no grooming involved, it was a sudden and brutal attack. Where were my protectors, the Sisters of Mercy, the Archdiocese, and the State?

Raped, and then viciously beaten. It altered who I was, and it has affected my whole life.

Mental cruelty. That was a way of life. Any expression of individuality was met with a beating, a thumping. I still cringe when somebody moves fast near me.

I used to, as a child, hang off the high fence of the Orphanage, staring up the incoming road, hoping desperately that my father would arrive and rescue me. He never came.

Many years later I met my father. We had one day together. That’s all. He died of cancer soon afterwards. On meeting him I had to quickly choose between loving him or hating him, I chose love. He told me that he desperately wanted to visit but the Nuns, the Sisters of Mercy, told him that it was not in the best interests of the children to be visited, and that he no longer had any parental rights. Their horrible stance on the matter hollowed him out, and hollowed me, as a child, out. There could have been rescue and release, but the Sisters of Mercy would not allow it.

After seven years in the Orphanage I was given a shirt, shorts, a pair of sandals, and a little port containing some other clothes, a godly pat on the head, and I was sent off to live with a foster family for my high school years. The Christian Brothers at Marist College Ashgrove were maybe not the best, but they did not come within cooee of the badness of the Sisters of Mercy.

From 1957 onward to today I have led a blighted affected life. I never realised any sort of personal potential. Finally in 2017 I sought redress from the Catholic Church and the Sisters of Mercy. I cited to them my childhood experiences under their care, I cited to them the kind of life I had led over the last sixty-two years.

They took into account my enduring poverty and they applied the screws of delay and obfuscation, and offered an insult of a Settlement to my claim against them. The debilitating affects of my poverty forced me to accept the Settlement.

There was no apology offered, no liability admitted, no offer of remedial therapy made. In my opinion that is yet another example of their ability to still abuse. It adds to the litany of criminality.

When I look back over my life now that I have reached the age of sixty-seven, I think about the unending childhood abuse, I think about the unrealised potential, I think about the jobs that I could not sustain, I think about all the failed attempts to gain professional qualifications, I think about the failed personal relationships, I think about the difficulty in maintaining effective communication with my children, I think about the fear of ending my own life that I wore like a smothering blanket for far too many of my years, and I think about how fear of just living continually undermined my reserves of intelligence, guts, and courage.

St. Vincents Catholic Orphanage at Nudgee was a nightmare. It was run by people, the Sisters of Mercy and the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, who not only did not provide care for me as their Ward, they took no steps to protect me when, as a child, I spoke up, or if at times I could not speak up, it was so bloody obvious that I had been raped and beaten and smothered whilst under their care.

I hold both the Order of the Sisters of Mercy, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, as entities, fully responsible for the criminal acts that were perpetrated upon me. They could have, but did not, prevent them. They are liable, and they are responsible.

People shy away from using the word Victim these days. I don’t shy away from using it at all. Perpetrators commit crime, and others by omission of responsibility allow crime to be committed. Those crimes create Victims. Those crimes do not create Survivors.

I no longer have time for euphemistic replacement words. Words such as Survivor are merely grab-bag words designed to give an impression that the victims of heinous crime have survived, and have miraculously shrugged off the negative life-long affects of the criminal acts perpetrated on them. Euphemistic words may make the speaker feel slightly better about things, but they do stuff all for the Victim. Behind the euphemistic words lies a very harsh reality for the victims of mental, physical, and sexual abuse.

Here are my harsh realities … they are, in part, drawn from a very lengthy medico/legal report compiled in 2018 as part of my legal process. The reading is bad enough, but I can assure you that the living of it all was far worse. I include this material to show you that criminal acts have a very definite affect on the victim. I would also, as you read the below, remind you that in my claim for redress that there was no apology offered, no liability admitted, or no offer of remedial therapy made to me by the Catholic Church.

Mental State Examination:

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.

He was significantly depressed, significantly anxious, but not overtly irritable at time of interview.

His affect was heightened and a little unpredictable. His affect did not become incongruent at any time.

He was not paranoid in attitude. He was not suffering delusions, hallucinations, or other symptoms to suggest a psychotic disorder of mind.

Commentary/Opinion:

Whilst it is late in the cycle of illness, Mr Davis has substantial unmet treatment needs.

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. If the plaintiff undertakes a reasonable and proper program of treatment, he should note some symptomatic improvement. However, he is unlikely to ever be symptom-free, given the pervasive acts of abuse/cruelty which he experienced whilst he was resident at the orphanage.

Mr Davis’ several year period of residence at the orphanage became a major stressor for him. There seems little point in trying to separate the effects of physical and emotional abuse from the effects of frank sexual abuse. Suffice it to say that substantive abuse, of any form, during the critical early formative years, is likely to trigger psychological problems which can become chronic and pervasive in type. This applies in the plaintiff’s case.

There should be no doubt that Mr Davis has multiple longer-term symptoms which link in greater part with his inability as a child to accommodate to his physical/sexual/emotional abuse at the orphanage.

The plaintiff has broad-ranging and chronic symptoms of persistent depressive disorder, from which he cannot escape. The symptoms interfere with his ongoing sense of well-being, and impair his function in everyday life.

Special Tests:

Mr Davis completed a Beck Depression Inventory II. He had a total score of 38 on the instrument, this placing him within the range for severe depression. He had moderate/high scores in the domains of pessimism, past failure, loss of pleasure, guilty feelings, punishment feelings, self-dislike, self-critical thinking, tearfulness, loss of interest, indecisiveness, feelings of worthlessness, difficulties with concentration, tiredness/fatigue, loss of energy, altered appetite.

Mr Davis completed a PCL-5. He had a total score of 48 on the instrument, this placing him above the diagnostic threshold for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The plaintiff completed a Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). He had a total score of 39 on the instrument, this placing him within the range for concern. He had moderate/high scores in the domains of numbing/tingling, unsteadiness of his legs, inability to relax, fears of the worst happening, being dizzy/light-headed, alteration in heart rate/rhythm, general unsteadiness, being terrified/afraid, general nervousness, hand tremors, being shaky/unsteady, fears of losing control, being scared, being faint/light-headed.

Documents:

I note the findings of the Queensland Government Redress Scheme (18 June 2009). Mr Davis had been found to have “more serious harm”. He was identified in an appended paper to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, suicidal thoughts, severe depression, and he was thoroughly predisposed in adult life to develop a major depressive disorder, chronic agoraphobic symptoms and panic symptoms additionally.

Other Points:

He has recollection of “unending abuse” and he recalled living in a constant fear that the next round of abuse was about to begin.

He has a persisting sadness that he is unable to relate in a consistent manner with people important to him.

He has ongoing anhedonic feelings, with constant nihilistic rumination, and occasional suicidal ideas.

He has a sense of chronic humiliation about his station in life.

He lost what he said had been his “spirit” in life.

He was incapable of achieving any joy or pleasure in his life.

SO WHERE TO FROM HERE?

So that’s what happened, and I currently do my best to deal with it all. And I haven’t given up.

I have recently learned that in Queensland, where I reside, it is possible to appeal against an unsatisfactory Settlement of Claim accepted under duress. My Settlement was grossly unsatisfactory. The duress was real.

I, and many other Victims of sexual abuse, do not want sympathy. We are way past the need for it. We want justice.

I intend to appeal. I want justice, I want just compensation, and I want no other human being of either gender to experience what I, and so many others, have been through, and are still going through.

The crimes that have been committed against me, and against so many others, fall at the extreme end of the spectrum of criminality. The perpetrators, the protectors of the perpetrators, and the uncaring ‘nothing to see here’ care-givers, should be confronted and never, ever, be allowed to get away with it.

St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage was a place of criminal acts, sadism, and the stuff of nightmares. It was a terrible experience to live through. I’m but one of many who had to endure it.

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27 comments

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  1. Janine McMahon

    If you need someone to just come, sit and be in your corner while you are going through the process let me know.

  2. Jack Cade

    The first act of the new government in Australia – whichever party prevails – should be to declare that churches are corporate bodies, peopled by ordinary citizens, and are subject to normal rules of law, not excepting rules of taxation.

  3. New England Cocky

    A distressing personal account of life experiences that no child should have to survive.

    Obviously these twisted personalities put in charge of these orphanages had psychological problems of their own, but that is no excuse for perpetuating their problems on other, younger persons.

    A case might be made for state complicity in this personal damage, possibly failure of duty of care, alternatively negligence, but that is for others.

    What can be done for now to protect children in the future is remove all forms of financial concessions and aid to institutions shown to have protected paedophiles, or child abusers in the broadest sense. This would remove state funding for all non-government school systems where these atrocities occurred. Consider the impact of churches paying property taxes, council rates, losing charity status and so losing exemption from paying sales taxes, etc, etc, etc

    Then the institutions could pay compensation to the victims from their own funds obtained if necessary from the sale of institution property.

    Churches have never been particularly popular in Australia except to break the boredom of convict conditions on Sunday mornings, so the fallacy that “churches are a social good” is severely tested by such testimony as above.

  4. Keitha Granville

    I don’t know what to say, I am shattered reading it – and you endured it.

    There is nothing that can give your life back to you, but those responsible must be made to admit their fault, pay and suffer for it.

    Never forget, never forgive. To be forgiven people have to first admit and be sorry. They won’t and they aren’t.

    What was the point of the Royal Commission if there are no consequences arising ?

  5. Florence Howarth

    Yes, when families broke up in those days women had to surrender their kids, as they were unable to earn enough to support their kids. Thankfully Whitlam’s mother’s pension bought an end to such a horrible state of affairs. There were also numerous orphanages that housed hundred of babies from birth from unmarried mothers who were forced to surrender them. Wards full of dozens of babies in cots. I know because as a child I visited one when my mother wanted to adopt a boy baby. These emptied within a year or so of Whitlam’s three short year reign. Seems the main thing that forced young girls to give up their baby was not society or family shame, not having a child called a bastard. it was not being able to have the income to keep them.

  6. Cara Clark

    I’m so sorry you have had to endure such depravity at the hands of the very people who should have nurtured and supported you.

  7. Jack Russell

    I read every word you wrote, and with some understanding having survived domestic violence as a child. However, saying that about myself is only to give weight to this: Your courage was never taken from you, no matter what, and it shines like a beacon. Follow it wherever it takes you.

  8. RomeoCharlie29

    The belt or the slipper were my punishment for transgressions, usually coming home late from school. They were infrequent but, seventy years later, still memorable for the sense of unfairness I felt. I simply cannot imagine what it must feel like to have endured what you did and the way it has blighted your life. I hope you not only get the compensation you deserve, but that it, in some small way, makes the rest of your life easier.

  9. Miriam English

    Oh Keith! Those sick bastards! Those sick, deluded, bible-thumping, hypocritical bastards. Ugh! These are the monsters that this corrupt government wants to privilege above the rest of us. Make the rotten mongrels pay. If you can break one of those institutions of torture then more power to you.

    Thank you for having the courage to spill this. You have my admiration.

    At least here you have a community of people who accept and respect you.

  10. lyn peel

    Keith it is good that you have now been able to share the totality of the abuse against you as a child and later. The repercussions are severe but I have the impression that you are beginning to grow again, to feel free and to be your own person against all the odds. Stick with this course because it will serve you well. As a lawyer let me say you are entitled to a great deal of compensation and don’t forget to include the state in any new claim for damages. Have you approached a legal firm to assist you? There are some who will take on your case for you at no cost unless there is an award of damages. You can negotiate what that percentage is. They may even consider a no fee case in the circumstances.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Keith, I could not finish reading of the horrors you endured. I was too overcome.

    I’m so, so sorry for what has happened to you. You have shown great courage just in telling us.

  12. Frances

    So sorry, Keith. I went to school to the Sisters of Mercy; their motto is I believe: Mercy goes out to a call of Need. They were cruel and usually picked on the weakest, poorest kids. There was one lovely nun who taught music and ran the choir.

  13. king1394

    Many nuns were extremely cruel and yet given so much respect that a child had no hope of being believed. My experiences were minor compared to what you suffered, but I understand that sense of bewilderment and injustice you felt as a child subjected to arbitrary punishments when you had done nothing wrong.
    I agree that these confidentiality agreements need to be torn up. They only protect the guilty.

  14. Stephengb

    Keith, I was reluctant to read your article, because I feared my response to such horses, but I knew that I had to, I felt I owed you that much respect for your bravery. Now I feel a great sadness over your pain.

    As a child, youth and young man I was blissfully naive of such things, I am thankful that it is so.
    In listening over these last year’s of the horrors that have only come to my knowledge because of the courage of the victims like yourself, I feel such anger in me that these people who do this to helpless children should be locked up for the rest of their natural life.

    I believe in a mark of respect which comes from my English upbringing –

    I tip my hat Sir !

  15. Anne Byam

    Keith

    I found I had to have a few breaks while reading this, as it is so overwhelmingly sad and details such shocking and repulsive acts.

    I am outraged that you and others have gone through this …. That you endured as a young child, this vile representation of what is supposed to be humanity – in church organisations no less – it is terrifying to contemplate.

    Having said that however, may I borrow the words of Jack Russell who has commented here, and quote ” Your courage was never taken from you, no matter what, and it shines like a beacon. Follow it wherever it takes you.” …

    I could not agree more …

    You are a most courageous man.

  16. totaram

    I am left speechless. I cannot even begin to understand why people would treat a child in this fashion.
    I wrote a whole lot of other stuff, but deleted it, because it did not make any sense. I just do not know what to say.
    My apologies for not even knowing how to react to this piece.

  17. Florence Howarth

    Don’t aim all your anger at the institutions. Keep some for the society that allowed things like that to happen. Keep some for the so-called sanctity of the home at that time. A place where all sins had to e kept hidden so not to bring shame on the family. A system where mothers had no power, no rights.

  18. Kathy

    Oh, Keith, I’m mortified. Tears have welled up in my eyes for you. What you endured is reprehensible and nothing short of true justice is what should happen here. I have read and know of so many more stories like yours and am truly disgusted with this country for what they allowed to happen to young innocent children.

  19. wam

    I don’t have a shred of respect for the lying rodent.
    Of the many warped views, this was the worst and it reflects the attitude of rabbottians throughout Australia:
    I do not believe, as a matter of principle, that one generation can accept responsibility for the acts of an earlier generation. I don’t accept that as a matter of principle.
    The mongrel and the church have no idea of principle nor accountability..
    I had friends(all dead) from the first intake of retta dixon and I taught some of the last. They suffered the christian treatment in silence till 42 years after retta dixon closed.
    You deserve justice, Keith, but your christian tormentors have already been absolved.

  20. Kaye Lee

    I wonder if these ‘religious’ people ever felt the terror of the prospect of ‘burning in Hell for eternity’.

    Get angry Keith. It is part of the grieving process. Don’t let them avoid facing the ugly truth. It is them that should feel shame – not you. Make them face the consequences of their actions and the responsibility for making reparation. The harm cannot be undone but justice may be a small part of a better future.

    How much harm has our government done covering up child sex abuse, rapes and beatings on Nauru and Manus?

  21. Kathryn

    My personal experiences pale into insignificance compared to you, Keith. However, I believe that physical, emotional, sexual and psychological abuse was absolutely RAMPANT in Catholic schools (and, most certainly, Catholic orphanages) for many years. In the late 1950’s, I was a student at St Patricks Primary School at Sutherland where there was a sadistic, malevolent nun who used to take apparent (twisted) pleasure in inflicting as much pain and suffering on students (often as young as kindergarten) as she could! I remember watching her grinning as she brutally caned the back legs of a tiny little boy who made the “unforgivable” mistake of stepping out of line going into class! I still remember the screams of this little boy as he writhed and twisted to get away from his assailant. I also remember that other nuns (and teachers) just stood by and watched it happen and did nothing to assist the unfair torture of this young boy! This particular sadistic nun used to wander up and down the waiting lines of students like a Gestapo officer, brandishing her cane and when given the tiniest, flimsiest of reason(s), would beat students with savage abandon – it was a terrifying act of brutality for young students to watch!

    This woman had a particular hatred of any student who had a jovial personality or appeared popular, There was a popular girl in my class (when I was in 5th Grade – as it was known then) who was obviously feeling very nauseous – she was as white as a sheet! When this girl advised the nun how sick she was feeling, did she get any sympathy? was her mother called to send her home? …. no, she was forced to stand in a corner until she vomited all over the floor!

    Many of the nuns and lay teachers in the school were lovely and supportive but not this creature whom, I remember, used to be a Maths teacher. Just about every student in the school absolutely dreaded her classes because they knew that most of the time in the class would NOT be spent imparting knowledge to us but, rather, a time when this sadistic woman could unleash unspeakable hatred and brutality to the students in her class whom she wanted to “break” and torture. I was one of those students!

    In those days, when you mentioned to your parents that some callously inhumane nun (or brother) with a taste for extreme brutality was metering out unjust punishment to young students, many parents used to say: “Oh yeah? And what did YOU do to deserve this? You must have done something!” It wasn’t until, one day, this nun jotted down a mathematical sum on the chalk board (about 4 feet wide long and 2 feet wide) that I could not complete, that she decided to beat my legs to a pulp (using the metal rim side of a ruler). When I got home and my father (who was not a Catholic) saw my bleeding legs, it was enough for him to race up to the school to question this level of brutality. Of course, nothing came of it – there was no apology, no consequence and the sadistic mistreatment of children in that school by this particular nun, went on and on regardless.

    Years later, I heard that this nun (who, more than likely, had serious mental issues), was sent off (in forced retirement) to some nun’s retreat out in the country somewhere. By this time, I was in high school and my four brothers attended the Christian Brothers at Sutherland. My brothers attended Christian Brothers High School at the time when one of the notorious brothers was actively molesting some of the vulnerable students. Fortunately, none of my brothers were a victim. Years later, the paedophile brother concerned was charged but not before he did a lot of damage to a lot of vulnerable young male students!

    The recent revelations about the ongoing horrific physical, sexual and psychological abuse by Catholic priests, brothers, nuns and lay teachers (in Catholic schools and orphanages) and, more recently, the charge and conviction of George Pell (at the highest level of Australia’s Catholic heirarchy) have done a LOT to turn people away from Catholic churches. I refuse to darken the door of the predatory Catholic Church again – the level of sanctimonious hypocrisy, refusal to accept responsibility for their destruction of so many lives, their refusal to provide adequate compensation to victims who suffered years of horrific physical and sexual abuse and the manner in which high-ranking bishops and cardinals just moved paedophiles, hiding behind a clerical collar, from one location to another where they, inevitably, continued murdering the childhood of so many victims – is incomprehensible and unspeakably evil.

    So much damage done under the name of religion! Theological schools and organisations MUST BE TAXED and those funds kept aside and earmarked as compensation for their appalling historical crimes against innocent, vulnerable children! Clearly, the Catholic system (and many other theological schools) did not bother to read (or take notice) of the teaching in the Bible where it states: “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” and, in particular, Matthew 25:40 … “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me”.

  22. Keith Davis

    I would like to thank everybody who sent in a comment. While I have touched on some of these matters in a general way in the past, what I have written above is the first time I could do so without the filters of restraint, fear, and worry about judgement. It took a long time to get there.

    There are so many comments above and it is hard to respond to every one individually. So I’ll try to do it in a general sense.

    I agree that AIMN is a bit like a community of similar-feeling people. The politics may sometimes be different, the view of issues may sometimes be different, but the way of dealing with difference appears to be the same. Tolerant, and under-pinned by heart, and logic, and reason. I may struggle to find enduring joys in my life … but writing articles on various subjects (other than the above matter) for AIMN is a joyful thing for me.

    People have shared my article to Facebook, and other stories from St. Vincent’s are starting to emerge. Other voices are starting to speak up. So in some areas, the silence is ending, and courage is starting to grow. Thank you AIMN.

    Some supportive comments elsewhere mention the fact that I never talk about my Mother. There is a reason for that. I have no memory of her. I will never know why she was not around when I was very young. I will never know why she left. Within me, I have never been able to develop a sense of ‘who’ she was, and checking out all the Family History sites has simply led to recurring dead ends. I imagine though that she must have been a very decent person. One of the deepest feelings I carry is that … if someone was fortunate to grow up with a Mother’s influence … then they are a fortunate person indeed. As a son, and as a man, I needed, and wanted, my Mother … that’s all I can say about that.

    Which brings me to another point. Some comments talk about the way women were treated back in the 1950s in the area of family support, or total lack of family and State support. Well, I might be a product of such a situation but, I just don’t, and never will, know the details. I cannot write about what I don’t know.

    I understand that abuse was not just confined to Orphanages etc, and that equally heinous instances of abuse occurred in family homes, which were meant to be the most safest havens of protection for children, yet in too many instances they were not. The affects of abuse are universal, whether the abuse occurred in an institution, or in the family home. It seems to me that wherever one’s abuse occurred, one has to fight equally hard for redress and justice, but I’m also aware that those of us who were abused in institutions at least have a Redress System to appeal to, whereas those abused in the family home do not (yet another societal unfairness).

    I’ve always got to respond to Wam of course. You are quite right in your view about inter-generational blame-shifting Wam. I don’t blame contemporary individuals within the Sisters of Mercy, or the Priesthood for that matter, for what I experienced, and still do experience. I blame the institutions. They were there then, and they are still there now, and I see very little evidence that they have changed all that much. In fact, my legal interaction with them to date convinces me of that.

    Courage and bravery have been brought up. Such things are in the eye of the see-er. All I know is that it took me over 60 years before I found the strength to speak. And it was only one day ago that I found the strength to speak without the filters of restraint and fear. That’s a fair measure of how abuse can so affect a person’s life.

    So thank you all for your comments. You give myself, and the many others like me, supportive hope.

  23. Brendan Wilson

    Reading this was like reading my own story, but in the state of Vitoria. Same bitches and bastards that hide behind the cross. St Vs in Sth Melb and Naz House in Camberwell. Both these places were houses on horror. The RC has opened up many, many wounds.

  24. wam

    Dear keith,
    at the time, I used to go to the council library to read the australian.
    I loathed the rodent and his mania against unions, his nasty family background and felt sick to hear the rabbottians sing his praises laud his lies and thank their god for such blessings.
    I wrote:
    How ‘ard is it to say sorry wam darwin and it was printed on the front page.

    I still cannot understand how australian men and women can be so unmoved, uninterested and avoid any thought of the atrocities inflicted on children.\
    How Territorians can be so indifferent to the institutionalized racism in government.

  25. New England Cocky

    Hmmmmm ….. following a long lunch discussion with other scholars. We agreed that this Institutional ABUSE OF CHILDREN required a firm hand of accounting from the Institutions.

    Therefore, we need to look no further than Henry VIII when he stripped the wealth from the monasteries and declared the Church of England.

    Australia needs to strip the wealth from institutions shown to have protected paedophiles, and avoid perceptions of collusion by removing ALL state financial exemptions and funding, especially funding private schools that perform like third rate child minding services masquerading academic institutions.

  26. Barbara Shank

    Dear Steve You are not only a fine man you are a great man.The world could learn a great deal from a man like you.All the best to you.

  27. Denis Hay

    Keith, my experience of being bought up as a Catholic is nothing compared to your experience. And your abuse is at the extreme end of the spectrum. The impact on me of my Catholic experience is that it just about destroyed my self-esteem and I spent the first part of my life (40 years) feeling great shame as a human being.

    My memory of school has faded, but I do remember having my knuckles being hit with the edge of a ruler by the Nuns frequently because I was left-handed. I also spent the latter part of my education at Marist Brothers Ashgrove and hated it. Many of the brothers were sadists and would give you the cane for no reason, think nothing of throwing the blackboard duster at you and hitting you in the head or humiliating you in front of all the class by calling me out and saying “go home and tell your father to pay your school fees”

    Unless you came from a rich family or were very good at sports, you were treated as second class.

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