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Davis's story

Davis attended a Christian Brothers school in Melbourne in the mid-1960s from the age of 11. He liked the school, he got good grades, his family was happy and settled. He was living what he described as ‘a normal life’.

‘After the assault on me in Year 9, a lot of things changed. I failed at that school … I was told I would never be successful in academic subjects. Failed Year 11 and eventually left the school.’

Davis was molested by one of the Brothers when he was alone after sport.

‘My incident happened in the change rooms after cricket. He would frequently come into the change rooms and stand there and watch you, and [he] just used the opportunity to assault me then.’

He said the incident only lasted a minute or two but it disturbed him greatly, leaving him stunned and helpless. ‘The best way to describe how I felt was a black feeling. My trust had been attacked and I had been betrayed.’

Davis told his mother about what happened. She went to the school principal to report the assault, but nothing was done about either the Brother or the situation. Davis was not targeted by that Brother again.

After Davis left in Year 11, he went to a different school for his final year, which was also a Catholic school. Although he said there was excessive physical punishment for minor offences, and that he knew of boys who were sexually abused there, he himself was not abused and in the new environment he was able to bring his grades back up to a good level and turn his life around. He later went on to university and a stable career. ‘It didn’t come easily, but I managed it.’

Davis has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and, over the years, he has found that every time he hears about someone else being sexually abused as a child, it triggers very strong emotions for him, especially if it concerns someone from his old schools. He has put a great effort into compiling information about incidents, particularly focusing on his former school leaders and what they knew about different cases.

‘My deep concern now is that I have not heard of them being brought to justice for their covering up, and I regard their cover-up as more serious than the perpetrators. The perpetrators were sick people who had certain addictions. And people who cover them up are the ones who I believe were as much or more to blame …

‘I went through the Towards Healing process last year but unfortunately the time frame was blown out to, I think five or six months, so I reached the point when I couldn’t talk about it anymore, I couldn’t deal with it. It was very traumatic …

‘To this day, the school has never made an apology for that person or made any public admissions … They’re funnelling responsibility to Towards Healing, which is a hollow apology because, number one, they’re not the perpetrator and some of these perpetrators are living. Number two, it’s physically not the school. I was assaulted at the school. The school represents emotionally where this happened and that’s where the resolution of it must come.’

Davis feels a strong personal responsibility to resolve these issues, but he is not going through counselling at the moment.

‘I feel that, by taking a certain course of action, it’s helping me to resolve my own things by helping other people.’

He finds it frustrating that the school continues to send out newsletters to former students talking about their Christian values without mentioning cases of abuse. He said often those who have been abused need a trigger to help them come forward and the school should be providing that trigger by admitting past failings.

‘I never came forward to the official processes, because psychologically I felt no one else, it hadn’t happened to anybody else, and no one would understand, no one would believe me and I was quite shocked when I spoke to a lawyer and they said “We know about that”. That was a big turning point to me. I was alone until then, I was alone in the universe.

‘It had been brewing inside me all the time … and just because I chose to fight it and against it doesn’t mean it didn’t have an effect on different things I did with my life …

‘I think that I’m very fortunate that I’m not as badly affected as others, and I was able to move on with my life and do things, but I think I have a strong personality, which I believe in getting things done.’

Davis’s main motivation now is helping others come forward to talk about their own experiences and starting the healing process. But the refusal of his old school to acknowledge past abuses continues to drive him on.

‘They can keep denying, covering up, not caring, and it won’t diminish my resolve. I won’t feel vindicated until the right thing is done. Genuine apology … that’s what we’re working towards and we believe the day will come …

‘I will follow it through … legally, morally, physically, whatever I have to do.’

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