Chad grew up in an affluent suburb in Sydney in the 1970s. As a child, he was sexually abused by a number of adults, the first of whom was the family’s doctor. He was also abused by a youth leader from the local church, and teachers at the two boarding schools he attended from Year 7 to Year 9.
He was also subjected to a great deal of physical abuse at the schools. ‘I was caned a lot’, and the caning became worse after he and another boy exposed ‘an affair’ between a female teacher and a Year 12 student.
When Chad discovered that one of the teachers who abused him had been convicted for abusing a number of other boys, it triggered ‘an immediate breakdown. I ran away from the house I was living in … and had a very unusual couple of weeks I guess, before I sought some psychiatric help. It was a particularly dark period’.
The physical and sexual abuse he experienced throughout his childhood has led Chad to suffer long-term mental health issues.
‘I’d think that a stronger person or maybe me in the past, when I was stronger, should, as my mum says, “Put it behind you and just get on with the future”. I’ve been more than a little surprised by my reaction …’
Chad has seen psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers sporadically over the years. ‘It’s been a mixed bag. Some of the people I’ve met along the way there have been great and truly helpful. Some I can’t believe work in the occupations they do.’ The social worker he has been seeing recently has been of great help to him.
Although he has sought help for his mental health problems, Chad has found that certain medications he has been prescribed in the past, have had ‘a very detrimental effect’ on him. However, he has made an appointment at a local hospital to ‘look into perhaps being medicated again, because things haven’t been going very well’.
Chad told the Commissioner, ‘I probably wouldn’t have thought some years ago, but I guess in hindsight, a lot of my behaviour I’d be silly not to attribute in some way, [to the abuse]’.
Chad came to the Royal Commission because ‘I guess I’ve just been in such a dark place since [finding out about the sentencing of his abuser] and it’s just been on my mind so much. It just really hasn’t been giving me any peace. I’ve led a very unusual life from insomnia to sleeping too much, and everything in between. I’ve just been in a rage, either in a depression or a rage, and I guess I just felt like I had to do something.
‘I wasn’t going to come today … but … two [members of] my support network really let me know that in their opinion, it was going to be of benefit, that is was going to help to make change, so here I am, I guess.’