Darryl Clarke was a volunteer who drove the bus at the Uniting Church that Brodie’s family attended, in suburban Brisbane. Brodie’s parents assumed that Clarke was an appropriate person for their children to spend time with, because of his connection to the church.
Clarke sexually abused Brodie in the mid-1990s, when Brodie was nine. The abuse happened a number of times at Clarke’s house, and included Clarke performing oral sex on Brodie.
Brodie’s brother was also abused by Clarke. ‘I remember the police coming and getting me and my brother and taking us back home. And they sort of asked me, did anything happen? And as a scared kid, I said no. But my brother had said yes.’
Brodie believes Clarke was charged and convicted of offences against Michael, but does not know what sentence he received. He also denied to his parents that he had been abused, and did not speak to Michael much about it at the time.
Recently Brodie reported the abuse he experienced to his local police station. He was treated well by the detective he spoke with, and they told him Clarke is also wanted interstate for similar offences. Brodie was disappointed to find out that there had been more victims, and that Clarke’s offending had not stopped after he was convicted for abusing Michael.
He considered seeking compensation, and spoke with a lawyer about his options. However, he does not feel the Church is responsible for the abuse, but rather that Clarke was a rogue paedophile who just happened to be attending the same church as his family.
The sexual abuse has had lasting impacts on Brodie. He has struggled with anger and had problems misusing alcohol and other substances. He finds relationships and intimacy difficult – ‘it ruined my sexuality’.
‘I’ve internalised all the hurt and the trauma, it’s impacted me very much, like my mental condition, from all of that. I’ve used a lot of drugs to get over being abused ... Your inner soul is hurt, so you try and use everything to numb yourself I guess.’ He is trying to let go of the trauma now, to ‘not hold on to it for the rest of my life, and be downtrodden about stuff that’s happened to me. It happens to a lot of people’.
A support organisation he contacted arranged for him to accessing counselling, which he has found to be useful. ‘I’m going through the works, and going to psychologists, and sort of nitpicking myself into coming to some sort of realisation or terms. Just so I can get on with my life, and not hold all that rage or anger inside. It’s sort of an injustice.’
He has kept his faith throughout his life, and now regularly attends a different church. He has been able to tell some of his friends there about the abuse. ‘That’s been a big help too, to actually talk about it. It’s a very stigmatised subject, sexual abuse.’
Brodie said that through the process of reporting to the Royal Commission, ‘I’ve been able to talk about it a lot more, and actually come to an understanding with myself as well, about the abuse and trauma that I’ve suffered. And for me, I’ve been able to reflect on my life, and know how much it has caused ... It’s been very therapeutic to go back through it’.