‘He was a man of God and I believed in God as a child. I always looked up to [Father Flanagan] and knew he was watching over me. Or so I thought.’
As a child, Brock’s family frequently moved from town to town in Western Australia. He had a happy early childhood and enjoyed school. He loved to learn.
In the 1980s when he was 12, Brock was enrolled in a Catholic private school. His parents believed this would give him the best education possible. His father had a job in a different town so his parents lived away. Brock was made a boarder.
He loved it and enjoyed having his own bed on campus. The teachers and priests were kind and his peers seemed to be in good spirits. Brock loved his classes and found high school to be challenging but great.
Father Flanagan was in charge of mass and often walked around the grounds during breaks. He took a special liking to Brock and was kind to him. So Brock was excited when the priest showed up in his dormitory one night.
Brock was molested by Flanagan several times over a two year period. Brock didn’t know it was wrong. He trusted Flanagan and he did what he was told. However, that changed when he was raped.
Now 13, Brock was raped several times by Flanagan who had become mean, rough and threatening. Brock was afraid of Flanagan and too scared to say anything.
At 14, Brock phoned his mother and begged to come home. He didn’t tell her why but his crying was enough for his mother to allow it. He was flown back and the next day his parents enrolled him in a local state high school.
Brock’s attitude had changed completely. He didn’t trust anyone. He hated God and himself. He wanted to punish others for the way he felt and got involved in crime. He often wagged school and didn’t care about his education, which he completed at 18. By then he had accrued a few minor criminal offences.
As a teenager, Brock moved to another city and starting abusing drugs and alcohol. He said these provided an escape, allowing him to think of nothing. However, he became angrier and started looking for trouble when he was under the influence. He got into fights and was always running into the law. At 21, he was placed in custody.
‘This was the way I identified myself: as bad.’
About three years later, Brock was released on parole. He tried to get his life on track. He gave up drugs and got an apprenticeship. He met his partner and they had children. He finally thought his past was behind him.
When this relationship broke down, Brock started using drugs again. He began self-harming and walked away from his family. His drug addiction led to unemployment and homelessness. He attempted suicide twice, and was hospitalised several times. In his late 20s he was given another jail sentence.
Throughout his adulthood, Brock has had low self-esteem and blamed himself for his childhood abuse. It is difficult for him to trust others, especially those in authority. He experienced sexual confusion, feeling dirty after sex, which made him angry. He hated homosexuals.
In jail, Brock met a pastor from the local Baptist church. He was able to confide in him about his drug use and criminal history and eventually the abuse. He became a Christian and committed to turning his life around.
‘I couldn’t deal with the pain any more. Alcohol and drugs were just hurting other people.’
Brock reported Flanagan to the police while in jail. He made a statement but wasn’t ready to proceed with the charge, so no further action was taken. At the time of his session with the Royal Commission, Brock had spoken to lawyers about a compensation claim.
He is delighted to have God back in his life and grateful to have met his pastor. In jail, Brock meets with a group of child sexual abuse survivors for support.
He has reconnected with his children and looks forward to his release.