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Adan Xander's story

In the late 1960s, when Adan was 13, his parents sent him to an Anglican private school in a suburb of Melbourne. They thought he was acting ‘girlish’ and that it would be best to send him to another school as a boarder.

‘To make more of a man of me. That’s why I was sent.’

Adan missed home and cried all the time, and his peers at the new school bullied him relentlessly.

His housemaster, Justin Drayton, took Adan under his wing. Adan recalls being allowed to stay in his study whenever he was teased. After several months he began to feel comfortable around Drayton and that’s when the sexual abuse started.

At least twice a week for several months, Drayton took him to his house, where he fondled him and touched him ‘all over’. He remembers standing naked in Drayton’s room on one occasion.

Adan said the other students noticed his contact with Drayton.

‘There were other kids saying, “Why is he going in there a lot?” I backed off and said that it had to stop ’cause I was getting agitated.’

His schoolwork suffered because he couldn’t sit still in class and he was often angry with everyone. He refused to see Drayton and went out of his way to avoid him.

An older boy, Walter, badgered him about what was going on. At the time, Adan thought Walter was concerned about him and wanted to help. He told him how Drayton made him feel, without disclosing the full details of the abuse. But Walter then sexually abused Adan too, forcing Adan to masturbate him several times.

One afternoon after chapel, Adan was pulled aside by Reverend Featherstone. Featherstone wanted to know why Adan was unhappy and took him into the school’s chapel for a conversation. They did talk and Featherstone calmed him down, but then he sexually abused him.

Adan didn’t know what to do. He felt the abuse was wrong but couldn’t tell anyone for fear of being further teased by his peers. He said everyone knew that he was being abused but nobody did anything about it.

When he was 15, he went on a cross country run at school. He was pushed to the ground and dragged by several students before they pulled down his pants and touched his backside.

After the run finished, he collapsed – he believes because of the shock – and was taken to hospital, where he remained for several days. ‘No one visited me at the hospital, except for two teachers. After that I was told not to return to the school so I left.’

Adan was shaken when he returned to his parents. He didn’t want to talk about anything and didn’t want to be around people. He was enrolled in another school but he was restless. His behaviour wasn’t improving so his parents organised for him to see a psychologist.

At first, the sessions were okay and Adan was able to open up about bullying and the sadness he felt. However, that soon changed. The psychologist sexually abused Adan over a period of three months.

He didn’t tell anyone because he was too scared. He stopped attending the sessions and told his parents it was because he was okay. By the time he was 17, he dropped out of school.

Throughout his teens and adulthood, Adan has struggled with panic attacks. He has had suicidal thoughts and has tried to end his life many times. He is easily confused and doesn’t trust people. He has had relationship issues and often dissociates. He is hypervigilant and can’t work.

‘I keep on thinking that someone is looking at me … I can’t even take me shirt off in the street because of what happened in that school.’

He wrote to his old school, but they told him they had no records of him being enrolled there. He only recently disclosed the details of his abuse when he told a new psychologist, who suggested he come to the Royal Commission. Adan had never reported the abusers to the police but now intends to.

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