Cy was born in Victoria in the early 1970s. When he was 10 years old, he went to an afterschool care program. Cy recalled that the teacher had some sort of ‘fetish’. She tried to make the boys and girls play sexual games together - ‘real games’.
Cy’s recall is patchy but he had a strong memory of himself, with no pants on, hiding from someone. None of this was reported at the time and he didn’t tell either of his parents.
Several years later, at his Uniting Church primary school, one of Cy’s teachers was infamous for doling out harsh physical punishment to the boys and blatantly grooming the girls. Several girls had complained to the school, but no action was taken. However, when the entire class boycotted the teacher’s class and told the headmaster why, he was moved on.
Things didn’t work out quite so well in Cy’s high school, which was also run by the Uniting Church. Cy joined a sports team that went to annual week-long training camps. For the first few years there were no dramas – it was good fun. But then, when he was in Year 10, things changed.
There had been a hazing ritual that involved smearing heat cream onto the private parts of the younger boys. But this ‘not serious’ ritual became brutal. It escalated to the senior boys inserting the tube anally and squeezing the entire contents into the younger boys’ rectums. It happened to Cy at two camps. He also remembers being digitally raped with multiple objects.
Cy believes this brutality started when the head coach retired and the training was left in the hands of junior teachers and senior boys. The cycle of abuse became entrenched over the years as the senior boys became coaches and encouraged the new senior teams to continue the ‘ritual’. There was no higher supervision at all.
Several years into this brutal training camp culture, Cy walked into the shower block at the camp and found a boy lying there. He’d been gang raped by the Year 12 kids. Cy helped the boy clean himself up but said nothing to anyone. He is almost certain that the coach put the senior boys up to it.
The boy dropped out of school a short time later. Cy heard kids, who hadn’t been on the camp, make jokes about it later. They didn’t know exactly what had happened but something had clearly been passed onto them
In Year 11, Cy found himself in senior school with the Year 12 boys who’d abused him the year before. ‘There was nothing you could say about it.’
Some of the abusers were prefects. Boys who’d said something about the abuse had left the school but Cy‘s not sure if they were pushed out or left of their own will. Cy told some of what had happened to his parents but not everything.
‘My schooling went backwards … I didn’t want to study … I basically went and hid.’ He became very isolated and distant from his friends. One friend, to whom he disclosed, told Cy he couldn’t help him.
Cy went on to become a coach of the younger teams. After a while he realised that the sport’s culture of sexual abuse had continued. Some of the kids he coached went away to the same training camp ‘and came back very different people’. They dropped out of the sport within a week of coming back. Cy is pretty certain he knows what happened.
Throughout his life Cy has had trouble communicating and concentrating as a result of the sexual abuse. He didn’t ‘get into drugs’ but just tries to forget about what happened. He has flashbacks to upsetting scenes from his childhood and is on medication for depression.
Cy has children of his own and is very vigilant with them. He has been trying to track down boys from the school to see how they’re coping.
He recently called the school and told the principal what had been going on, without giving details about his own abuse. The principal was ‘aghast’ and referred Cy to the Uniting Church’s law firm to make a formal statement. They told him it’d be better if he went to the police. Cy hasn’t yet done that, as he’s worried about the impact on his family.
He doesn’t hate the school, he told the Commissioner. ‘I just hate the teachers who turned a blind eye to it.’