Aloisius’ mother died in the early 1960s when he was seven years old, leaving his emotionally distant father to care for him and his siblings. His father invited another family to share their three bedroom house in Brisbane, and with a total of 10 people living there, Aloisius described it in a written statement as ‘an angry, crowded and volatile environment’.
When he was nine years old, Aloisius joined the Church of England Boys’ Society (CEBS) where he met Darren Weiss. Weiss was in his thirties, held a high ranking position within CEBS and was a school teacher. ‘He had been caught at least once skinny dipping with the boys in his class in the school pool but nobody ever did anything.’
Being aware of the challenges in Aloisius’ home life, it wasn’t long before Weiss was taking him away on excursions and overnight stays. ‘He had met my father and he used to pick me up from home if we were going somewhere …
‘Things were tough at home. Dad had started drinking heavily and the family that was sharing the house with us were quite violent. Home was not a nice place to be at this time in my life so I guess this is why I [sought] a kind of refuge at Darren’s house. I think it was the lesser of two evils at the time. He did look after me other than the sexual side of the relationship.’
Weiss began sexually abusing Aloisius not long after they met. ‘I had endured him fondling my private parts and performing oral sex on me.’ The abuse occurred regularly and continued until Aloisius was 13 years old. ‘I tried to spend less time alone with him and eventually I left CEBS altogether. He then didn’t have an excuse to see me anymore. I ended up in hospital suffering from Hepatitis A at the end of Year 9 and I believe that I may have caught it from him.’
Aloisius never told anyone about the abuse. Assuming he was gay, he became confused when he discovered he was only attracted to girls. At a critical age when he should have been dealing with the death of his mother, the abuse stunted Aloisius’ emotional development. He lacked confidence, did poorly at school and began abusing alcohol.
‘I finished Year 12 but burnt out during this year ... By this stage I was smoking and drinking quite heavily. I had no emotions whatsoever and didn’t want to trust anybody.’
Aloisius married when he was 21. ‘During this time I began withdrawing more and more into myself. I was drinking a cask of wine a day. I was not coping with life at all.’ After several years the marriage ended.
A year later Aloisius married again and started a family. ‘I felt I was getting better during this relationship. I was drinking less and feeling much better about life.’ Some years later his wife died from cancer and within a few months he started psychotherapy. ‘I believe that I felt on top of things then. Probably the most together I had felt in my life.’
Despite the success of the therapy, Aloisius could not ignore that his children were now in the same position of dealing with the death of their mother that he was at their age. He contemplated suicide, experienced anxiety, panic attacks, anger, guilt and depression, and became hypervigilant and determined that they would not be vulnerable to predators in the same way he was.
Determined to make a good life for his children, he completed his tertiary degree part-time while working full-time.
Aloisius ‘was doing fine and then I wasn’t doing fine. And I realised it was because I didn’t report him and he might have been harming other children. And he was’. Aloisius contacted the Anglican Church and was encouraged to make a statement to the police. Weiss was charged with child sex offences and Aloisius was called as a witness during his trial, an experience which was re-traumatising.
‘During the trial I was accused of being an alcoholic, a homosexual. The implication was that I had seduced Mr Weiss. I was also accused of colluding with friends and family to extract financial gain from the Church ... I had never considered requesting compensation. On the few occasions when it was suggested I dismissed it out of hand as it would be dirty money.’
Weiss was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to jail. ‘I’ve already taken my perpetrator to trial and I think he’s now deceased, but he did go to jail.’
‘The Anglican Church is also partly responsible for not taking action. Darren Weiss made a habit of parading “his boys”, including me, at the diocesan head office. They should have removed him from his position.’
The difficulty of the trial led to Aloisius drinking heavily again. After contact with the archbishop, explaining the impact of the trial, he received information regarding a compensation program package. However, Aloisius thought the application process looked to be as traumatising as the trial had been with payments made based on the nature of abuse. Aloisius declined to pursue it. All he ever wanted was acknowledgment.
With the support of a new partner and a good relationship with his children, Aloisius now feels more optimistic about life. ‘I have made a success of my life despite the damage done to me because at some point I chose … not to contribute to perpetrating the harm done to me …
‘It has been very, very, very hard work – just to survive – and I have done more than that.’