‘One of the hardest things, having to deal with it my whole life, is that I froze. When he would touch me, when he would do things – I froze. I’ve spent a long time trying to work on that’, Anton said. ‘I often lay there just wanting to say “This was so wrong. You did so much bad to me” … So much anger and that there towards him. But, on the weekend, he was right in front of me and I froze again.’
Anton grew up in a violent household. His father was an alcoholic and his parents split up when he was seven years old, in the late 1970s. He had no further contact with his mother. Anton went to live with his grandmother until his father picked him up again six years later, having had very little contact with his son in the meantime. His father had remarried and Anton was sent to a Christian Brothers high school in Victoria. That was where he met Brother Boyd.
The school was in a more privileged area than where Anton lived. It was the equivalent of ‘living in Broadmeadows and going to school in Toorak’. He didn’t fit in and got into a lot of fights. Brother Boyd started to favour Anton, saying he was looking out for him.
In Year 8, Anton and a few other boys were attending Brother Boyd’s remedial English class. ‘The first comments that were ever made were that you were going to meet his “hairy little friend” if you didn’t behave.’ He often touched Anton on his shoulders or around his neck which Anton found ‘very scary, very freaky’.
On one occasion, Brother Boyd was talking to Anton in a private lesson, shortly after Anton had hit another student in a fight. Brother Boyd was sitting in front of him and ‘kept putting his hands on my thighs and then he’d tell me there’s a way of relieving tension and stress and that this was for my benefit, of becoming a man. I was to basically masturbate and he proceeded to touch me and show me how to masturbate’.
This happened on a number of occasions. All the while, Anton thought Brother Boyd was ‘there trying to help me … to support me’. To this day, Anton is distressed about this. ‘There’s this stuff that … I don’t understand, is why I kept going back or turning to him, you know, which made it worse … There’s a lot of still unanswered questions …’
Anton made some mention of the abuse to another boy when the boy asked him ‘Has Boyd got to you too?’ There was just a ‘knowing’, but generally nothing was ever said about it.
Anton lived with his father for three years. One night at home, when his father was drunk and violent, they had a ‘punch on’. Anton rode all the way to the school to see Brother Boyd. ‘Originally he flipped out … that he was going to get in all sorts of trouble because I’d come to the school after hours. But then he took me in the car, abused me again. Tried to make me touch him and then dropped me off at home afterwards. My nan knew something was wrong, my nan, she was there at the time … I tried to speak to my father the next day about it. He punched me in the face, gave me a fat lip, for saying things. Ended up living on the streets for a period of time after that.’ Anton had not yet turned 16.
Life on the streets was chaotic. ‘Now I understand what I was doing but I didn’t at the time. But I was always trying to prove my manhood. I was always trying to fit in everywhere. I got a girl pregnant … ’ Anton managed to get odd jobs and complete an apprenticeship. It was only later in life that he got into trouble with the law.
‘I pretty much, all my life, just tried to prove that I fit in somewhere and it’s led to a lot of dramas, a lot of hassles.’
Anton has attempted suicide ‘quite a few times’ in his life. After a family tragedy he had a mental breakdown and started gambling. He is currently serving time for non-violent crimes. On the outside, it’s ‘feast or famine’ as his mental health dictates how much work he can do.
About 15 years ago Anton disclosed his abuse to a psychiatrist. He is currently on medication. However, he is not receiving adequate – or any – psychiatric help in prison. ‘I didn’t want to do this [the Royal Commission] originally and my wife and I talked about it and was hoping that, maybe talking about it, would find some answers or let something go or something, but I think it’s ... some ways it’s made it worse. I think this is the wrong environment to be doing it.’
Anton is in contact with his children, now adults. His wife visits him on a regular basis. He’s also in contact with the legal service, knowmore.
Previously Anton had not been interested in reporting Brother Boyd to the police but he has changed his mind. ‘I’ve since learned that this wasn’t the first time Brother Boyd did this. And it was widely known within the Christian Brothers. They covered it up and they did things to make it worse. If they hadn’t have covered it up and did the right thing in the first place, a lot more people would have been saved.’