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Daniel Stephen's story

Because his family lived overseas, Daniel was sent to an Anglican boarding school in Victoria, from the age of eight. Apart from homesickness, the first few years were ‘pretty fantastic I suppose … The matrons were really great, when you think about little kids you know, away from home. They were fantastic’.

In the early 1970s, when he was in First Form, a family bereavement led to Daniel having some time off school. ‘I went back to school. I think most people were really good … You just want to get back to normal. You don’t want to be the odd one out or the freak.’

The master in the Daniel’s boarding house ‘used to come and get me and talk to me … He’d just take me aside and say, “Have a talk to me” … I think he was really nervous and uncomfortable because someone had sort of told him to go and do it or something. He’d just talk to me … and I’d just cry and stuff and then he sort of cuddled me and touched me’.

The inappropriate touching occurred two or three times, until Daniel decided ‘I just didn’t want to do it anymore’. When the master asked him if he wanted to talk, Daniel said he was busy and eventually, the man stopped asking.

‘I think I had a lot of depression from then on … The next couple of years were a non-event and then it sort of got better for a couple of years and then when I left school, I had depression. I didn’t know it was depression at the time, but now, looking back …’

Other masters at the school could see that something was wrong, and asked Daniel what the problem was, but he couldn’t tell them. At one stage, he was put in the school infirmary for a few days, and letters expressing concern were written home.

‘At that age … I guess at that time, you’re so naive, that it was just something I had no understanding … It was odd … I guess you felt incredibly ashamed I mean … you would never talk about it [with] other boys.’

The first time Daniel spoke about the abuse was to a psychologist he saw a year ago. She worked out some strategies to ‘deal with it and kind of move on’. Daniel was able to start talking about it because, with the Royal Commission, ‘it’s out in the open and because … it happened to a lot of people, and you’re not just the odd one out’.

Daniel told the Commissioner that as a child, he felt ‘kind of isolated … you’re not really working out, not really thinking about it in a sense … it’s just something that happened … You certainly don’t want, as a boy, a young boy, a teenage boy, you don’t want to be the odd one out … You don’t want to be a victim or …

‘I don’t feel particularly angry about it … It’s just something that happened, you know, the wrong place at the wrong time, kind of thing.’

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