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Benjamin Evan's story

Benjamin was born into a large, strictly Catholic, Melbourne family. In the early 1970s he was sent to a prestigious Jesuit boys’ college, and during his first year he encountered Brother Anthony.

When Anthony was teaching the boys Latin he would ask them to come and read aloud at the front of the class – ‘and while you were reading it he’d feel your buttocks. And I can remember squeezing the cheeks of my buttocks together’.

Benjamin didn’t think too much of it as he had seen it happen to the other boys and Anthony had a reputation for this behaviour. The Brother was ‘always so nice to me, but I was picked out all the time. And you don’t sort of pick this up until you’re older, what’s actually been going on’.

Brother Marlow was an older, grey-haired man, and ‘a nasty piece of work’, who administered discipline at the school. One day when Benjamin was around 11 years old he made up a lie as to why he could not attend detention, forging a note from his parents to support his excuse. Marlow did not believe him and interrogated him in an office, pretending to call his mother, until he finally admitted he was lying.

The Brother then took Benjamin to another room with a bed, made him strip off his trousers and underpants and lie on the bed in only his shirt. He then whipped Benjamin on his buttocks, three times each side. ‘Did he get off on it? Who knows? Whatever.’

Benjamin doesn’t recall how he got back to class after the incident. He remembers seeing Marlow the next day, and that the Brother would not make eye contact with him. ‘He’s weak as piss. That’s weak. The little kid, you’re frightened of the little kid. Gee I wish I was an adult then, ’cause I would have gone after him. He would have been concerned that I would have blabbed.’

A short while later Marlow left the school, and died within a few years. Benjamin wonders if the Brother was moved because someone found out about the abuse.

For the rest of his school days Benjamin was ‘petrified’, and he could not concentrate on class. Each time a teacher asked him a question ‘I’d just break down crying, which is humiliating to myself and embarrassing because I was laughed at …

‘From the time after that happened, up until about the age of 40, I’ve been scared most of my life. At the school, I can remember having to go to the infirmary, I had diarrhoea just about every day – I was that scared, I didn’t want to be there.’

In his mid-teens he and another school friend were ‘laughing and giggling about how Anthony used to do all these things to us, and then it sort of dawned on us that they were perverted. I really am disgusted’.

Since the age of 16 ‘I’ve abused alcohol. I’m an alcoholic. My doctors have tried to give me anti-alcohol medicine and I’ve refused to take it’. He’s been on blood pressure medication for many years. Counselling is not something he has considered, and he can’t recall it ever having been offered.

Benjamin cannot enter a church as doing so makes him feel ill. ‘I can’t even go into a shop where there’s incense’, and he can’t handle his partner wearing perfume as it reminds him of incense and churches. He has not reported the abuse to police or approached the school for a response or compensation, but is considering seeking advice about his legal options.

‘For most of my life I’ve had a sense of worthlessness, uselessness. So I brag about my achievements, ’cause I got pretty much got low self-esteem I want people to think that I’m good ... My relationships with women and my own children are dreadful.’

Benjamin was married for 20 years ‘out of which I reckon I was happy about two’, and some of his adult children now refuse to speak to him. ‘I could have done better as a father.’

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