Cillian’s first experiences of sexual abuse happened when he was nine years old. It was the mid 1970s, and Cillian was living on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast with his family. His father was a violent alcoholic, and his mother was recovering from a major illness. The man who abused him had befriended his parents and gained their trust. The abuse continued for a couple of years, culminating in rape.
At the age of 13, Cillian was charged with arson. The magistrate ruled he should be remanded at a youth hospital and detention facility run by the Department of Children's Services. The culture at the centre ‘was to obey the instructions of the officers, because if you didn’t you would be bashed’.
Cillian was sexually abused at the hospital a number of times. Shortly after being admitted, he woke up to find an officer masturbating in his face. He ‘pressed his penis onto my mouth and said, thank you’.
Another time, this same officer locked Cillian in a room with some older boys. It was common for older boys to masturbate in front of the younger ones, and this is exactly what happened in this instance.
The officer watched Cillian’s reaction through a glass pane in the door. ‘I was a virgin at the time, and didn’t know how to react. I was frozen and mortified by what they were doing around me.’
In a separate instance, a different officer ‘stopped me from entering the yard, and led me to a place where the security cameras could not see us’. He gave Cillian a cigarette. Cillian believes the officer ‘knew that I had previously been sexually assaulted’, and this may be why he ‘proceeded to fondle my genitals as I smoked the cigarette’.
Cillian was made to speak with the hospital’s psychologist. ‘I was only 13 years of age and had never been in trouble with the police before, and had the psychologist telling me that I would not be going home, and that I would be incarcerated for a very long time. I can remember crying through fear.’
At the time of this abuse, Cillian did not tell anyone about it. ‘I did not mention the sexual assaults to anyone at this time, as I was confused and perplexed about what was happening.’ His contact with the psychologist ‘reinforced my fear of speaking or complaining about anything that was happening’. After several months he was released on bail for a year. When his matter was finally heard, he was found not guilty.
Since then, Cillian has disclosed this abuse to his brother, but is reluctant to tell others in case he is not believed. He has difficulty trusting people, and has had problems with drug and alcohol use in the past.
When Cillian was 18 he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and has spent some time in psychiatric facilities. In one of these units he ran into the man who had first abused him, as they were both inpatients. ‘I was confronted. And I said to myself, no, don’t get angry ... I went up to him, and I said to him, “Why’d you do it?” He said he didn’t know why.’
Cillian lives with depression and anxiety, and is unable to form the kinds of relationships he would like to have. ‘I am irritated by not being attracted by the opposite sex, because I would like to be in a relationship. I feel moved by males of a dominant nature. I am attracted to males who appear to be physically strong. I am not gay but withdraw from females. I cannot be intimate with females.’
Cillian received a $13,000 Victims of Crime payment relating to the sexual abuse by his father’s friend, but has not taken any action against the hospital so far. He has reported the abuse at the centre to the Sex Crimes Unit, but is yet to make a formal police statement.
After leaving school, Cillian met a Tai Chi master, who taught him skills that enabled him to calm down. He also attributes his resilience to his faith, good friends, sticking to his prescribed psychiatric medication, and practising celibacy.