Bevan was the oldest of three siblings in a very strict Catholic family. ‘We were told from a very early age that priests, Brothers and nuns were God’s representatives on Earth and they could do no wrong’, Bevan told the Commissioner.
Bevan was a frequent target of schoolyard bullies. His uncles taught him to box when he was about eight so he could defend himself. But that treatment by his peers meant he was always grateful for any positive attention he received.
In the 1970s Bevan started high school, at a Christian Brothers college in Melbourne. He was pleased when Brother Doyle gave him the job of setting out and packing away the swimming equipment. One afternoon after swimming class Bevan stayed behind to put away the gear as instructed. Afterwards he had a shower.
‘That’s when the first rape happened, in the showers there. I was 12 years old’, Bevan told the Commissioner.`
‘I knew it was totally wrong. But [Brother Doyle] said nothing. Didn’t say a word. There was no masturbation, no oral sex, there was nothing – he just pushed me over in the shower and raped me.’
Afterwards, he threatened Bevan. He told him not to tell anyone what had happened because he would never be believed. He said he would fail Bevan in every one of his school subjects if he spoke a word about it.
Some time later Bevan was putting away equipment in the gym when Doyle and a second Brother, Brother Chander, came in. ‘They literally just threw me into the mats, pulled down my shorts, and Doyle raped me then, while Chander held my arms. Then they swapped over. And then they just walked out. No comment. Nothing said.’
The sexual abuse didn’t happen again but its effect was devastating and ongoing.
Bevan stopped attending school, until his father finally permitted him to enrol at a different one. At age 15, he became a heavy drinker and marijuana user. He drank heavily all his life and became an alcoholic. In his early 50s he had a breakdown. He suffered extreme depression and became addicted to prescription medication. He felt suicidal.
‘The wall had broken, the demons came out’, Bevan told the Commissioner.
Finally, he spoke about the abuse he’d suffered as a 12-year-old. He told his GP first of all and, on the same day, his wife of three decades years, Eileen. ‘I came home and I was pretty distressed. I said, "Can we sit down; I’ve got to tell you something".’
Bevan told the Commissioner there was no one he could have spoken to about the abuse at the time that it happened.
‘It comes down to an adult Christian Brother’s word against a little 12-year-old boy. And without physical evidence, there was no way I could prove it.’
Some 40 years later, he spoke about it with his father, who had worked professionally for the Catholic Church in Melbourne. ‘I said, “Would you have believed me?” And he said no.’
These days Bevan is in what he described as a ‘better place’. He is a recovering alcoholic. He is on an effective program of medication that keeps depression at bay. He receives an invalid pension.
‘My whole life could have been totally different’, Bevan said. ‘I had a lot of really good opportunities, and they were just stolen … My life went down the gurgler back then, when I was 15 or 16.’
Bevan has not reported the abuse to the police or sought compensation.
‘My biggest thing is I just wanted the recognition, and this is what today has brought’, he told the Commissioner. ‘The recognition that this happened, it’s now recorded and hopefully that helps other people who are suffering just like us.’