Clive was born into a large family in the 1960s. His home life was tough as his parents had financial difficulties and were both alcoholics, and he never had a ‘role model’ or an ‘example of parenting’.
When Clive was two years old he and his brothers were made wards of the state and sent to a Catholic children’s home.
In the mid-1970s the children were moved to a Christian Brothers boys’ home in regional Victoria. Clive remembers the home as ‘crowded’, and the environment very strict.
The Brothers enforced a strong Catholic regimen and would often punish the boys for misbehaving. They patrolled the dorms at night, enforcing a rule whereby boys weren’t ‘allowed to wear underwear under pyjamas’. If they did, they ‘would get into trouble’.
When Clive was nine years old, he was moved into a dormitory run by Brother Peter. The Brother sexually abused him on a regular basis over the next two years.
‘You’re gutted because that person is your carer, your advisor, your protector.’
This abuse began when Clive was ill in bed with a stomach ache. Peter came to his bed, pulled back the sheets and started to rub his lower stomach.
‘I gained an erection and at the same time I thought it was strange that he was knocking it [his penis] as often as he was with the back of his hand. I thought at the time he was paying far too much attention to my penis and I couldn’t understand it because he was a Brother. I tried to get the blankets up [and he] knelt by my ear and said, “Are you alright now?”.’
Each time Peter abused Clive it was in a similar way. Clive would be woken in bed and masturbated by the Brother, who’d sometimes make Clive masturbate his own penis. Clive once wore underwear under his pyjamas to deter Peter from touching him, but the Brother pulled them down ‘without hesitation’.
Clive reported the abuse to his father when he was 10 years old. His father then travelled to the home and had a meeting with the manager. He demanded that Peter be stopped but nothing was done. From then on Clive became ‘a very angry child’.
Peter was abusing Clive every night and this ‘stressed’ him immensely. He started getting into fights with other residents and constantly misbehaved.
On one occasion during lunch, Clive got into a huge fight with a boy who was taunting him. He upended a table and ‘attacked’ the boy right in front of Peter. The Brother then grabbed him, sat him across his leg and ‘flogged’ him in front of everyone.
It was then and there that Clive decided he’d had enough.
‘I said to him words like, “Don’t touch me. You play with me in the middle of the night. Don’t touch me”. Everyone heard me.’
Clive was called to the manager’s office that afternoon and stood before a panel of men, who weren’t wearing police nor Christian Brothers’ uniforms. The men asked him a series of questions about the home and the Brothers. He told them about Peter’s behaviour and was shocked that they believed him. After the meeting ended, Clive never saw Peter again.
At 13 Clive went back to live with his parents, but left a couple of years later. After this he never returned to institutional care nor to his parents’ home. He met his wife in his late teens and they started a family. Although he had worried that alcohol was going to be ‘a problem’ for him he decided to prioritise his family instead – it was an ‘easy’ decision knowing that his parents had chosen alcohol over him and his brothers.
Clive doesn’t ‘trust anyone’ and is ‘very suspicious of people, unless they prove otherwise’. This affects his everyday life and his employment. He still finds interactions with children hard and is uncomfortable with physical contact. Being protective of his family, he often predicts dangers before they come.
When Clive was in his 30s, he found out his brothers had also been abused by Peter. They all made statements to the police in the late 1990s, and Peter was convicted and jailed for his crimes against several victims.
Clive was extremely dissatisfied with the sentencing, and this was one of the reasons he’d came to the Royal Commission.
‘It’s going to be of help and it’s going to help other kids. The message has got to get through that they’re not the ones that are going to get in trouble … It isn’t their fault and it isn’t right.’