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We, the unheard.

And so the priests stand up in their pulpits and wish everyone a happy and merry Xmas …

And so we, the unheard, sit alone at home on Xmas day and try to endure the silence, the loneliness, and the loss. We try not to hear the happy celebrations of our neighbours, we leave the television off because of the swamp of festive visual fare that shows happy contented people singing carols and exuding joy, and we avoid any sort of human contact simply because we no longer have the ability to pretend that we can either contribute to or benefit from what is meant to be such a day of happy and relaxed and innocent celebration.

Many of us have drifted away from our families, or they have drifted away from us. Our children have drifted away from many of us, or we have drifted away from them. On Xmas day we think about, and live, the loss. We sit on our verandahs, and we stare at the sky.

And who are we, the unheard?

We are a grouping of men and women who as children back in the 1950s, yes back in the 1950s, that long and far away reach back in time, we are the human beings who endured unspeakable abuse experiences while under the care of religious institutions. We are now in our late sixties or seventies by physical age, but we are much older and worn down under the effects of the inescapable legacies that we have carried over the stretch of a full lifetime.

And so the priests stand up in their pulpits and wish everyone a happy and merry Xmas …

Our abuse experiences do not stand unique against those who were abused in the 1970s, the 1990s, the 2000s, or yesterday. The horror of the crimes committed against us in the 1950s are equal to the horror of the crimes committed against other children in the 1990s or in the present era. Nobody, no victim or survivor depending on how you as a society wishes to view us, escapes the legacy imposed by those crimes. The only difference for we, the unheard, is the fact that we have carried those legacies, those legacies of depression and PTSD, and the acute memories of what happened to us, for well over sixty years now.

Did some of us escape from under the weight of it all? We would like to think so, we would hope so, some must have surely, but for many of us, such cut through did not come our way.

The Royal Commission came far too late for us, the reach out from society via the Parliamentary apology was woefully too late for us, and both those events combined simply served to remind us how isolated, unheard, and unbelieved we were over that more than half a century ago.

We lived, as young children, and as teenagers, in an era where the churches and their clerics were venerated, and where those who had experienced scouring trauma were expected to just suck it up and move on, and, under no circumstance, speak out. We lived in a conservative and hypocritical society.

For us, back then, there was no inrush of supportive therapists and counsellors such as automatically happens today immediately post any sort of traumatic event. Society was quiet during our abuse, society was quiet after our abuse, society did not want to listen, society did not want to know. There was no such thing as early remedial intervention in our day, with the result that many of us carried our load of depression and post-traumatic stress for far too long in silence, and that long period of silence ensured for many of us that the state of those afflictions would become permanent.

As we hit our fifties and sixties, and as we saw the unfolding details of the Royal Commission, and as we sensed the new move within society to listen and believe, we started to open up. We approached therapists and psychologists, and for many of us, it was the first time in the totality of our lives that we were able to speak of what had been done. Our speech may have been halting, but at least for us, it was a welcome crack in the veil of silence.

After sixty years of being pushed aside, we were faced with the very new experience of being listened to. We had to try and draw ourselves out from under the blanket of silence imposed upon us by the society of our era. And it was at that very time, at a time when society was prepared to listen to our words, prepared to listen to our stories, when the Royal Commission was at its height, well, that was the exact time because of our decision to engage with the remedial therapies that many of us received the news from our therapists, our psychologists, and our psychiatrists that the damage done to us had been untreated for far too long, and that the damage could not be undone.

That blow was shattering for many of us. The last vestige of our hope for some internal relief or sense of normality was taken away.

And the priests stand up in their pulpits and wish everyone a happy and merry Xmas …

So our anger rose, and many of us entered the legal redress system, either under the civil system or the government promoted and subsequently watered down Redress Scheme. For many of us, our mental state was such that we could not clearly discern the ramifications for us of the decisions we made about the various levels of settlement offered to us by the religious institutions. For many of us, it was a depressing experience that added to the level of abuse that we had received from those institutions. We saw, and felt, their response to our requests for justice as an extension of our abuse at their hands. Many of us simply signed settlements in order to stop the further perpetration of abuse upon us.

As the Royal Commissioner recently stated, the problem with the largest abusive church of them all, the one that affected so many of us, is the fact that they saw and still see the molestation of children as a moral dilemma, and not as a crime. Well, we, the unheard, are the living proof of the effects across our whole lifetimes of the crime of childhood sexual abuse that was perpetrated upon us by representatives of that church. A church that does not have the moral courage to change itself from within.

This new era of societal redress and focus on abuse will end, as all things do, and society will move on to other things, as in this era society more and more quickly does. But we remain here locked into a world, not of our own creating, and many of us are faced with the impossible reality of accepting that how it always was for us, then so it will always remain to be.

On Xmas day many of us will just sit on our verandahs, and many of us will just stare at the sky. We remain quiet, and hidden away. It simply IS our IS. A bit of a brutal truth the churches don’t care to acknowledge. The age of being listened to arrived too late to be of benefit for many of us, and within ourselves, we feel and remain unheard.

And the priests stand up in their pulpits and wish everyone, including one assumes us, a happy and merry Xmas …

So we, some of that grouping of men and women who were children way back then in the 1950s do not in any sense wish you to not enjoy your festive season. But there is something that we would ask of you.

We want you to enjoy Xmas with every fibre of your being, and we want you to appreciate the beauty of your family, the beauty of your children, the beauty of your friends, and the beauty of being able to laugh and dance and celebrate and shout with unaffected joy at the freedoms that you have. We want you to fully appreciate and live your lives well. We want you to spread love and kindness to all you meet, and we want you to extend to and receive compassion from all on Xmas day. We wish you much success in the raising of your children and in the creation of positive legacies for them.

We, the unheard, would take it as a wonderful Xmas present to see you manage to do all of that.

Peace and love to all of you from all of us.

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9 comments

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  1. Keitha Granville

    There is nothing to be said to even begin to understand or know what you feel. But be sure that many more people now know, and are listening.

    I do wish you a time of peace, if not now then at some point in your future. And I hope you may find some comfort on xmas day, maybe with others who suffer or others who suffer for different reasons.

  2. Abbie

    Thank you for sharing your story, your pain, your legacy.
    Some of us have a little understanding for we are the leftovers of abuse perpetrated by a member of our family. In my case it was two male cousins. They have never been called to account by family but it did take until I was in my 40’s to tell my father of the abuse when I was 7 and visiting the aunt’s farm.
    My father simply dismissed my ‘experience’ because I was “only molested” not raped.

    So dear Keith I felt at 66 a little of your loss.

    I wish you peace and calm for 2020.

  3. Keith Davis

    Abbie … what you had to deal with is the same. Whether the abuse happened inside or outside of an institution the loss is the same. So peace and calm to you as well.

  4. Kathryn

    Thank you for sharing your story, Keith. It is a timely reminder that Christmas is NOT a happy time for many people – it is a time when loneliness in accentuated, when one feels the absence of their family more acutely. I cannot pretend to understand the horrific experiences that so many people suffered at the hands of cowardly predators who stole the childhoods away from so many of their defenseless victims. I only hope that time can, in some way, dull some of the pain.

    My thoughts are with you, Keith, and Abbie – I really hope that 2020 brings you peace and happiness. My best wishes to you xxx

  5. wam

    The evil of the church of men is the men who, in full knowledge of what men have done, give absolution, The men who, In full knowledge of their crimes. send them out to repeat their rapes and receive their absolution.

    The church would have been dust if it were not for the fear of purgatory of the women who play no part beyond breeding and indoctrinating.

    There is no doubt religion is by men for men and is godless. It will remain godless until women have a place at the alter and the absolution for abusers is left to god.

    But that is bullshit because no god could reign over the church.

  6. Keith Davis

    Hi Wam … good to hear from you. The god thing is fascinating in a way. After self-ejecting myself from catholocism once I hit the age of reason I dived into the meat grinder of comparative religions and philosophies to try and make some sense of the god and religion combination.

    While studying journalism at university I added on some Eastern Ways and Thoughts modules. There’s the answer I thought. Become a Taoist, Buddhist, Shintoist, Confucianist, with a shade of Hinduism and Tibet Mountain God and Nepalese Pony Spirit thrown in to round things off nicely. It was great fun. The course was delivered by an old drunk academic who had recently been unwillingly ejected from Hong Kong, for unspecified reasons he was not prepared to talk about, and his and my efforts combined expanded my consciousness up to the enlightened level of a minute shrivelled and quite empty pea. It left me whirling like a spinning Dervish.

    Now that my consciousness had, um somewhat expanded, I dove headlong into the outpourings of the author Carlos Castaneda, I became one of his distanced fellow travellers of awareness. His Toltec shamanist tomes like A separate reality, and The active side of infinity, transported me to a place I had never visited before, a very expensive bookshop that saw me coming from a mile off.

    Unfortunately I never could totally immerse myself in the helpful utterings of Carlos, nor could I fully accompany him on any sort of parallel journey into the world of reality seen through the lens of unreality, largely because he had copious access to swallowable quantities of peyote and jimson weed, while I only had copious access to burpful quantities of cheap beer.

    After that I pretty much gave up and reverted back to a passing interest in the Celtic gods of the rivers and the earth and the trees etc, and then stuck a tattoo of the Celtic Tree of Life at the top of my left arm. And that’s where it has all sat ever since.

    Which is my roundabout way of saying that I pretty much agree with most of what you said …

  7. Jack Cade

    Your story makes me sad and very angry. My jaundiced view of religious houses and the ‘religious morals’ they preach snd teach was formed in my early years when I detected the absolute hypocrisy of my maternal and paternal
    families who loathed one another because of their Roman Catholic (maternal) and Protestant (paternal) backgrounds. Only one of my 16 aunts and uncles and their 20-odd offspring was an actual churchgoer. Torn between both families I detected no difference in their lifestyles to show me which was best, and I decided that their god was one and the same, and because he she or it (‘He’ was the designation) was the maker of everything and knew everything, it was clear to me that ‘He’ was incompetent but more likely an arsehole. So I was proud to tell my devote but non-church-attending mother that God was bullshit and I was an atheist.
    And when you look at the people ‘He’ selects to be his spokesthings, the accuracy of my assessment is reinforced daily.

  8. wam

    haha keith I just got out of the pool, caught our PM doing a mea culpa and having refreshed knocked out of me at the the sight of the man of christ. ooooh he is creepy
    Then I read your little homily and pissed me self forgetting all the angst of that sick polititician(thanks boobby).
    The laugh was double because over the years, at a much lower level, the eastern religions passed my mind, But only the rainbow settled.
    Keep strong and keep writing but like my wife just called out don’t forget to remind me to get toilet rolls and don’t be long. Life is real and bloody worth living
    so see you later

  9. DrakeN

    “…the news from our therapists, our psychologists, and our psychiatrists that the damage done to us had been untreated for far too long, and that the damage could not be undone.”

    That, exactly.

    My good friend and partner-in-subsistence was schooled in Spanish Catholic boarding schools run by various Nunneries – she was never sexually assaulted, but was frequently ‘corrected’ with physical violence and verbal haranguing as to the sinfulness of her very existence.
    The mental and emotional scars will never be healed.
    At over 70 years of age, she still cries out in her sleep at those injustices and the viperish behaviours of the Nuns.

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