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.
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.
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.
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.
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.