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Dan Kevin's story

‘I own my behaviour. I’ve accepted that I’ve done the wrong thing. And we all have choices in life. But I think that I might not have made the choices I made if this had not of happened.’

Dan spoke to the Royal Commission from jail where he is serving a sentence for harassment. He described his crimes as ‘sexual offending against women. Nothing physical’. Dan believes that the origins of this behaviour can be traced back to the sexual abuse he experienced as a boy. He said, ‘I think I was set on a path separate to everybody else’.

It began in the 1980s when Dan was an 11-year-old student at a Christian Brothers school in regional New South Wales. The perpetrator was a lay teacher named Mr Henley. He ‘took a fancy’ to Dan and would grab his buttocks, kiss him on the face and call him ‘petal and precious’.

After one such incident, Dan went home and told his father what was happening. Dan’s dad went down to the school and confronted the principal. Mr Henley never came near Dan after that, but he remained a teacher at the school for at least the next four years. Dan’s father didn’t speak about the matter again, so Dan was left alone to cope with the fallout as best he could.

Dan’s view as he looks in hindsight, is that because the abuse hit him in the early stages of puberty it warped his views on sexuality. He started to feel that there was something wrong with him, something he had to fix.

‘I didn’t have a girlfriend so I don’t think I was in that sort of mould where to make myself more of a man I could actually physically have sex. So I was sexualising my behaviour against women to prove that I was male, that I was heterosexual.’

Dan soon became addicted to these sexualised behaviours which brought him into trouble with the law and his first arrest at 16. The threat of more jail time seemed to make no difference and he offended again and again. It wasn’t until he was in his late 20s that he was able to change, for a while, his behaviour.

The catalyst, he said, was becoming a father and the general wisdom that comes with age. Also, Dan met a woman who helped him to gain insight into himself.

‘She was very … unorthodox. It was through meditation – it wasn’t actually through counselling, it was through meditation and going back through my experiences and learning to love myself. You don’t have to shut your eyes when you look in the mirror. Don’t be frightened to do things like masturbate. It shows that you love yourself and it can relieve stress, and all those kinds of things.’

Dan offended again and during his time in jail, he has met many men who were sexually abused as children and who ended up committing crimes. He believes these men, like him, would probably have lived better lives if not for the abuse; he also believes they’re responsible for their own actions.

‘I think we’re all victims of circumstance. I think we create our own luck and we certainly create our own misery. All these things have happened to me but at the end of the day I have a choice.’

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