Beck was sexually abused in the 1980s at a community sporting organisation by a perpetrator he now knows was himself a victim of abuse.
He was about nine or 10 when Keith Muir, a youth worker, molested him several times while away on camps. Once, he recalled Muir pointing out another kid as ‘one of my special friends’ or ‘one of my best friends’, and Beck now suspects that may have been another victim.
He did not tell his single mother about the abuse for some time.
‘I think when I was younger I blamed her for sending me there [to camp] and just being indifferent about it because I remember her making the comment that it was good to have us out of her hair for a while.’
When he did report the abuse to the police in his 20s, Beck was treated aggressively in court and he felt he could not go on with the proceedings.
‘I had a young family and really I was struggling with my mental health.’ He remains unsure about the status of the case, particularly after a detective sent him a letter stating it wasn’t proceeding because Beck had not been able to be contacted. This was despite the fact that Beck had not moved house.
He asked the Commissioner to try to resurrect the prosecution of Muir.
While still in primary school Beck tried to drown himself. None of the teachers asked why and other students who witnessed it teased him about it ‘for ages’ afterward.
He approached the police initially when expecting his first child in the 90s.
His partner at the time was unsympathetic. ‘She just told me to get over myself all the time.’
‘It [her pregnancy] was making me think about my life and where it was going. I realised how much … an effect it [the abuse] had on me and I wanted to try and get it sorted out as soon as I could so I could be a good father.’
When Beck didn’t ‘have the strength to continue’ after being attacked in court he sought other help, but did not have ‘an overwhelmingly great response from people’ at various facilities. This included a Centre Against Sexual Assault in Victoria, where a woman he spoke to was very discouraging.
He was also extremely upset that his first counsellor told him that because of his age at the time of the abuse, he would be permanently affected by severe post-traumatic stress disorder – ‘that I’m broken, like there’s no way of fixing it’.
Beck said another psychologist would have been better off referring him to specific trauma counselling, rather than allowing him to sob through sessions and then ask how he felt.
He proved the first psychologist wrong when he obtained a degree, but his self-confidence has been ‘set back in every area of my life’.
He agreed it was difficult to find long-term, consistent care for survivors of child sexual abuse. And it was even harder to get any understanding out of Centrelink about his ongoing trauma – rekindled recently when he saw Muir at a public forum.
He and his partner of nearly a decade live separately due to Beck’s problems accessing Centrelink benefits. He needs to doctor-shop in order to satisfy ‘overwhelming’ amounts of paperwork required by Centrelink to support his mental health condition – even to merely apply for a disability pension, which is his current hurdle.
Since ‘that little act in primary school’, he has never again contemplated suicide as his children are too important to him.
‘It’s been a really big fear of mine that things were going to happen to my children … I just want to be a good dad.
‘It’s [the abuse] had a really big impact on my life. I don’t feel like I’m where I am supposed to be in life. I’m meant to be more successful and have more things.’
While Beck had told older members of his family about the abuse years ago, they’re confused that now that he’s in his 40s, he’s not working full time. They expected him to ‘move on with your life’ and to have got over it by now.
‘There needs to be a lot more training, or people have to realise the impact and stuff that it can have on people and how things are ongoing and how things can be triggered by events and situations’, Beck said.
‘I try to do as best as I can ever since but I always feel I’m not good enough.’
He is currently seeing a psychologist, after a GP referred him on a mental health care plan and he received up to $6,000 in victims of crime assistance for counselling.