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Ari's story

At 13, Ari was encouraged by his Christian Brothers college to attend a camp for gifted students in northern Sydney. His parents were separated and not very involved in his life, and he made his own way to the camp. One night while he was there he went to his dormitory to get ready for the evening meal. Out of nowhere a Christian Brother ‘just appeared’ and told Ari to masturbate him.

Ari thought he’d seen the Brother before but didn’t know his name. At some point over the next few days Ari wrote a letter to his ‘future self’. Someone must have found the letter and in it he must have referred to the sexual assault because when he returned to school, his aunt was called to a meeting and then counselling was arranged for him.

As far as Ari is aware the school took no action about the allegation and it was his aunt who paid for the counselling. He didn’t disclose to the counsellor anything about the abuse.

A short time after his return to school he was called to see one of the Christian Brothers in his residence. The Brother, who Ari didn’t want to name, said he’d noticed there might be something troubling Ari. He then sexually abused him in a similar way to the first Brother and this continued in a similar way over a two-year period in the early 2000s.

‘It’s forever changed me because from then, after that, I literally went to work in Kings Cross’, Ari said. ‘It just seemed the same way, just normal, just that’s what you do. I did that for years. Before I left school, same time, I used to finish at the Cross at 6 am and get changed in the train and go home.

‘My dad, he didn’t even notice I was gone. He used to make dinner and leave it on the bench, and then I wouldn’t come home on Tuesday night; then on Wednesday night he’d put another dinner next to the Tuesday night, and there’d be three dinners in a row. He just never asked.

'I had the same thing happen in the Cross because it just becomes your life. You don’t see it as a bad thing, you just see it as what it is. That’s the only way you think about it, that you wish it didn’t happen or you didn’t do that or do this.’

After school, Ari went to work for himself and although he had ‘a drinking problem’ he thought he managed okay. In the early 2010s, he wasn’t working and that, together with his son being young, made him decide to do something about what had happened to him.

He rang the school to speak to the principal but had to leave several messages before his call was returned. Eventually the principal told him there was no record of the camp and that because he wouldn’t disclose the name of the second offender, there was nothing he could do. Ari was disappointed that when he asked for copies of school records, he was sent only his school reports.

‘There must be somebody there, when I ring upset, that wants to help. It’s just like they don’t. I don’t know what the system is. I don’t know what the internal policies are. Every time I rang I just got nothing.’

He wished there’d been someone there for him to speak to.

‘They should handle it better’, he said. ‘They should be, you know, they should be assisting the person. They wouldn’t ring up when they’re happy. They ring up when they’re in crisis. And telling you, “Oh, we’ll go through the record” and sending you paperwork four or five weeks later, that’s not a response.

‘I ended up in hospital five or six times for these things, and they checked me into the, you know, mental facility. I’m stuck there frustrated as hell and the government said, "Let’s just check him in for two days and give him diazepam and knock him out".

‘I rang up three or four times, every time frustrated and upset. There’s just no response. There’s just, “This is your record” and there’s nobody else you can ring. Who else do you ring? I don’t know the camp. I don’t know the name of the camp. Even if you do ring, what are they going to say? “Oh yeah, we did that here”. It’s just really hard.’

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