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The man who was nothing

Our articles on The AIMN attract not only wonderful responses from those who comment here, but also through emails or messages on our Facebook page. Some of these are published on our site.

The George Pell High Court decision prompted many responses. This moving story – with the permission of our reader – we offer to you.

I am a nurse of 30 years and hear many sad stories from people who have sometimes never told anyone else, or have sad news.

I have never been so moved as when I showed an elderly man into the room and told him what to do. He said; “Sorry, I’m stupid.”

No one says that and there was no need because he had never been before and couldn’t have known the drill. Anyway, I told him there was no need to apologise. He later stated to the doctor “you are somebody, I’m a nobody.” Again, there was no need to this comment.

What struck me was his sincerity. He eventually told his story:

When he was a child in England, his father went to war and came back a changed man who was an alcoholic and ended up in jail. He died a few months later. His mother died 6 months after his father’s passing.

He, 9, and his brother were sent to a boy’s home in Australia where he was routinely abused. He only got to eat because he worked in the kitchen, so the big boys couldn’t steal his food. He slept in a urine-soaked bed. He worked 12-hour days and was beaten by the brothers. He finally decided to kill one if the brothers when one day he was sent up a ladder to fix something, the brother then stopped one rung too low, so he couldn’t reach to kick him in the head.

At 15, not able to read or write, he was kicked out of the home with a letter to say he “wouldn’t amount to much”.

This man still believed what that letter said. This broken man will never come forward because he said he couldn’t bare to talk about what happened. Both the doctor (whom I’ve never witnessed tear up or become upset in front of patients before, despite many moving situations) and I (who has cried on possible 3 occasions when with a patient) were so upset to hear this elderly man, who was still a broken little boy, say he was “nothing”.

The abusers are monsters.

Nothing has moved me more than being with this man. A sweet, innocent but broken boy inside an ageing body. A man robbed of what could have been. I hugged him as there was nothing else I could do.

Meanwhile, QCs are defending the cruel enablers; the Church that has done nothing to rid this filth.

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  1. Noel

    So many pedophiles, especially in the higher echelons of Government and Judicial. Seems they are a protected species. How can we have any faith in the system when Pell is found guilty by a jury and then released by a higher court. That makes it very clear that we are subjected to a “legal” system, not a “justice” system. And relate Pell’s release to the 10 year incarceration of Julian Assange who has done nothing but tell the truth about criminal activity and crimes against humanity.

  2. HumeAndTwain

    The contrasting cases between Pell and Assange are stark in their inequity.

  3. Ill fares the land

    Pell is a “nobody”, who has been inflated to the status of a “somebody” because of his association with and status within the Catholic Church and that has given him powerful friends amongst the legion of other “nobodies” who have risen to high rank, often by no more than scheming, backstabbing and manipulation rather than talent. Those “friends” will defend him against all comers and ensure that all attacks against him are repelled. Pell’s accusers have been vilified as “nobodies”, which means the system can largely treat them with disdain. I’m not saying Pell is guilty and perhaps it is a bit too nuanced, but the High Court only said that there was doubt about his guilt, not that there was no doubt about his innocence. Assange was a “somebody” who has been progressively crushed by the (global) establishment so that he can be seen as and hence treated as a “nobody”.

  4. Keith Davis

    The tears. Cannot stop them. It breaks my f*cking heart to read of that man’s life. What he went through.

  5. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks so much for sharing this. What are our hearts for, if not for loving and breaking?

  6. Keitha Granville

    No words, just aching for the wasted and broken lives.

  7. Michael Taylor

    It cut me up too, Keith.

    Two things came to mind when I first read it: the horrors that you endured, and the miserable childhood that I went through because when my father returned home from the war the first thing he headed for was the bottle.

  8. Otto v. Corvin

    And this evil cult is continually corrupting the minds of younger generations, brainwashing them to their own evil ends. Why put up with this?

    Why do some people still feel they need to “believe”? And to believe what? In the face of this irrefutable groundswell of evidence?

    Why does a supposed secular state continue to put up with this long-entrenched criminality and instead put a boot into these bastards? It has been done elsewhere…

  9. New England Cocky

    Then after WWII came the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Syndrome (PTSD) that was unrecognised by either the medical fraternity or the military administrators. Too many good men descended into alcohol to blot out the horrific memories of active service, POW camps and lost mates. The military administrators and DVA may not have recognise PTSD but the families dealt with it on a daily basis. Wives calming partners who woke in sweats and screaming as their too active memories flooded back in too stark almost reality. Kids hiding anywhere to stay out of the way of drunken fathers, fired up by an evening at the pub trying to forget the horror and fighting mad when they returned home still carrying the memories. Family violence was rife but it was “not nice” to talk about it. What happened in the home stayed in the home, and many women suffered in silence because the social mores of the 1950s demanded that “a woman’s place was in the home”. The Marriage Act made divorce difficult and unfair for women until Lionel Murphy passed the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). Police looked the other way and found some other irrelevant matter to attend.

    But nobody in government or military administration or DVA listened; these fighting men were bludgers; get over it!! We survived the war in our comfortable air conditioned offices well back from the front and usually ensconced in Australia well away from the sharp end.

    Many shut out the war, pushing it away as they got on with their post war lives, and carried their experiences to the grave, unheard by others. Lest we forget.

  10. corvusboreus

    NEC & MT,
    Lots of time money and effort spent militarily amputating the social imperative not to kill our own kind, but sweet FA spent in trying to reattach it.
    Results range from sad through tragic to disastrous.

  11. RosemaryJ36

    The level of hidden and unaddressed cruelty to children is appalling beyond belief.

  12. Judith A Bacon

    What I think needs to happen, is that our justice system has to change. The onus of proof needs to be placed with the adult, not the victim who was broken as a child. Our Justice system favours people who can pay the most money for the best legal representation. When it comes to the Catholic Church, which is the biggest paedophile protection and perpetrator racket the world has ever known, their pockets are very deep. Hence, it has been with Pell.

    Every child sexual abuse survivor is a somebody.

    I hear you. I see you. I believe you.

  13. guest

    We know there are many, many children who have been abused in religious institutions, especially when the children are orphans and not the children of the adults who are supposed to care for them. Others have been abused by parents or relatives or friends of the family.

    The difference in power and rank is considerable. There is strong resistance to speak out against the perpetrators. Where do they go to make their accusations? And what reason is there for their accusations to be believed if the accusations are raised years later?

    Records tell us that trials involving sexual misdemeanors do not turn out very well for the accuser. The percentage of success for the accuser is small. There is that element of doubt in the evidence. There is also the fear that an innocent person might be found guilty.

    So it is not surprising that there are abused people who have not spoken up at all. It is just one person’s word against another. Material evidence is needed – and even then the accused can claim consensual agreement.

    I saw trailers of a tv program in which a priest claims abuse of children was not such an issue in the past, and that it was God who would forgive him. So that the idea of the confessional seems also to be a way of absolution, not to be revealed.

    The High Court decision is absolutely correct, but I wonder why the case advanced as far as it did if the decision is what it is, not about guilt or innocence, but about a point of law. And I accept that point – as does the accuser, so graciously.

    But I do have a question, if that is allowed – perhaps someone can inform me – what is the accuser’s explanation for why he was in the change-room of the accused well after the accused had spent some time at the front of the cathedral greeting parishioners?
    (Have I got the story right?)

  14. leefe

    “But I do have a question, if that is allowed – perhaps someone can inform me – what is the accuser’s explanation for why he was in the change-room of the accused well after the accused had spent some time at the front of the cathedral greeting parishioners?
    (Have I got the story right?)”

    IIRC, the two boys went into the sacristy to sup a little communion wine.

  15. Stephengb

    Judith A Bacon, yoir statement
    “The onus of proof needs to be placed with the adult, not the victim who was broken as a child”.

    This is saying that a person is guilty until they proven innocent ! The ‘inquisitorial’ system favoured by the Roman Cathlic Church, is this what you really think ?

  16. Judith A Bacon

    Victims are treated like it is an inquisition. Survivors of child sexual abuse have been required by the Catholic Church to go through mental health checks.

  17. guest

    Thank you, Leefe.

    I would like to read Louis Milligan’s “Cardinal – the Rise and Fall of George Pell” mentioned in a comment in Rossleigh’s post in AIMN, April 8, 2020.

  18. tyrannosauruswenz

    The justice system requires corroboration for witness statements, Rape and molestation are almost always perpetrated in secret. The system is designed to fail victims, and the behaviour of defence teams in court towards victims is despicable, they shred self-esteem through victim-blaming and shaming. They use accusations along the lines of ‘buyer’s remorse’ to directly attack the credibility and personal integrity of victims. These crimes need a different court system. The current system rarely leads to convictions and generally causes further harm to victims.

  19. Judith A Bacon

    yes it does. But how?

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