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Clement Gerald's story

Clement was adopted as a small child in the 1960s, and raised in suburban Brisbane. His parents were busy with work but did their best to provide for him.

The family attended the local Catholic church, and Clement became an altar boy. When he was around eight years old he attended a Christmas picnic and was sexually abused twice by the priest, Father McKenna.

‘I don’t want to go into detail about what happened because it’s too much.’ After this he stopped being an altar boy, and McKenna did not abuse him again.

When Clement was 12 his parents told him he was adopted. ‘Then all this started coming up again ... I started to use drugs, I started to wag school ... And I just rebelled the whole time since. I’ve been a drug addict most of my life.’

Soon after learning of his adoption, he was sexually abused by a teacher during afternoon detention at his Christian Brothers high school. He learned that this Brother had also abused other boys. ‘After it happened, I knew I wasn’t the only one ... It probably made me feel a little bit worse actually.’

Clement found it hard to maintain employment after leaving school, or to form lasting relationships. His drug use escalated, and lead to him being incarcerated on numerous occasions.

One of the significant impacts of the abuse that has particularly affected him is his inability to give a urine sample when required. This has led to his current breach of parole. He puts this down to the abuse he suffered as a young boy and teenager, and has tried to explain that he has problems urinating if there are other people present. He described the attitude of prison officers in relation to this problem as inflexible and dismissive.

Clement has never reported the sexual abuse to the police, or sought any compensation. His partner has disclosed that she is a survivor too, but he has still been unable to tell her what happened to him.

He makes sure his own kids know they can talk to him about anything. ‘What I was never told was that it doesn’t matter what happens to you, I’m always here ... I’ve got a good relationship with my children.’

While he has had some counselling in prison, he’s never spoken about the abuse during these sessions. Given the ongoing impacts, he wishes he had been able to talk about it sooner. ‘Had I known it was going to make a difference to my whole life, I probably would have said something.’

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