Celine's story

‘I started seeing a psychologist a couple of years ago and it wasn’t until six months ago that I had a sudden realisation that a belief I’d held was wrong, and that was that he did me more good than harm. And I suddenly realised how untrue that was, and so the last six months I’ve been reassessing everything in a different light. It’s kind of a new thing for me to consider it sexual abuse because I didn’t before.

‘When I was 15, I was raped and my world spun out of control and I was sent to a child and adolescent psychiatrist, who almost immediately began touching me and kissing me and behaving generally inappropriately, and he created in me I realise a sense of dependency and loyalty.’

For four years from the late 1980s, Celine saw psychiatrist, Dr Andrew Boyd, in his private consulting rooms. Neither she nor other patients were aware that a complaint had been made about Boyd’s sexually inappropriate behaviour a few years before, during his time working in the public health system. His move to private practice came that same year and after the complaint was dismissed. Further allegations of abuse were made and substantiated and in the early 1990s, Boyd was deregistered as a psychiatrist.

In the mid-1990s, a report commissioned to review the initial complaint found that the two doctors in charge of the investigation were Boyd’s colleagues and they had ‘covered up’ for him. No action was taken against either doctor and one continued to occupy a senior position within the Western Australia public health system.

‘If he had investigated that properly,’ Celine said. ‘I would never have come in contact with Boyd. Me and everyone else.’

Celine told the Commissioner that a girl she came to know was also being abused by Boyd, and it was she who eventually made the complaint in the early 90s. The girl asked Celine to also make a formal report, but Celine declined. ‘I wouldn’t because of that sense of loyalty’, she said. ‘And because I believed he was doing me more good than harm.’

Boyd’s patients were notified of his de-registration by the receptionist of the medical centre. They were referred to other psychiatrists and though they came to know by other means the reason for Boyd’s departure, no official notice or support was ever offered.

For years Celine’s multiple admissions to mental health wards thwarted her ability to pursue employment or study. She disclosed the sexual abuse by Boyd only in the mid-2010s, five years after she’d been in therapy with a psychologist.

Two months after her disclosure, she went to the registration board for health professionals to report Boyd’s abuse nearly two decades earlier. She was told they couldn’t take any action because he was already de-registered, but her complaint would be an alert if Boyd ever tried to reapply for registration. Celine said she hadn’t wanted them to do anything; she ‘just wanted it on record’.

Celine had since disclosed the abuse to the psychiatrist and case manager she was seeing through the public health system. Though understanding, they were poorly resourced and couldn’t offer her counselling or the level of support needed. She believed the public health system needed more staff and better facilities and that it needed to bear some responsibility for her ongoing support needs because it was inaction after the first complaint that had led to Boyd abusing her in his private practice.

‘I think I was such a mess from the rape that what he did just compounded it, and so it was all twisted up together, and although I’ve tried to deal with the issue of rape over the last 20 years, I haven’t been able to. And I think the reason is because he had twisted it so much and made it so unclear about where the issue lay that I haven’t been able to deal with either of them. …

‘I think I have a very strong defence mechanism and an example of that is thinking for 20 years that he’d not done me any harm - or he’d done me more good than harm. It’s taken me this long to realise it … My defence mechanisms are largely made up of avoidance and denial and that’s not any long-term good. But it’s how I’ve got through.’

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