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Dominic Thomas's story

‘I think it took away my foundation. I haven’t been able to build myself as a person very easily ... I guess that’s the best way to describe it ... I find that I’ve held myself back. It’s only through now opening all this up I think, maybe that’s what it was.’

Dominic attended a western Sydney Patrician Brothers college in the 1970s, starting there when he was around 10 years old. Although initially a bit scared of the environment, he soon came to enjoy being there with his mates ‘and the camaraderie that went along with an all-boys school’.

Brother Quinn would sit Dominic on his lap during his first year at the school, fondling and playing with his penis in front of the other students.

‘I can’t remember anyone else that got singled out ... He would grab my school tie and then move his hand down onto my genitals ... This happened in every religion class.’

Quinn would also fit the boys for their sports uniforms, and use this as an excuse to fondle them.

Sometimes the students would go away on camps. Dominic would never be able to sleep during these trips as Quinn would take any chance he could to sexually abuse the boys. One night Quinn came into Dominic’s tent, however Dominic woke up and asked him what he was doing, so Quinn quickly left.

The abuse continued for two years. Dominic suspects that Quinn picked on him for being a ‘very pretty boy’, and because family troubles made him ‘vulnerable’. He realises however, that he was never to blame for Quinn’s behaviour.

‘I know it was his perverted way of getting his rocks off ... It was the way he found his jollies ... He would pick a target that was vulnerable.’

Around this time, Dominic starting using marijuana, and bingeing on alcohol, and he went on to use other drugs, too. ‘I lived very much on that edge of I didn’t care if I lived or died sort of attitude.’ In his mid-20s he sought counselling for his substance use, but still has some problems with alcohol.

In his 30s he told his family about the abuse but nobody took any notice, ‘because I was a bit of a storyteller and always trying to get attention’.

Some of Dominic’s family members had also attended the college. After one relative died recently, notes about having been sexually abused by Quinn were found in his diary – providing collaboration for Dominic’s earlier disclosure. ‘After he passed I thought I’ve got to talk for him as well – he hasn’t got the chance to say anything.’

Even so, coming forward about the abuse was not an easy decision.

‘For a long time I kicked around whether to do anything or not. Because I do still admire the school for a lot of the good things it did, so it was very difficult.’

Dominic’s relationship with his partner is ‘rocky’, and he doesn’t feel he can convey the abuse and its impacts to her. ‘I try to talk to her but it’s very difficult for anyone who doesn’t understand ... I don’t think she wants to talk about it as much. I feel very alone on the subject.’

He hadn't realised how much the abuse had affected him until he became a father, and is now interested in accessing further counselling. ‘I cry very easily. I mean, I have a scar that’s very close to the top I think, so I need to heal it.’

Accessing a survivors’ support group is something he would consider too, having occasionally discussed the abuse with others in passing. ‘I think that would be good, talking with other people in the same sort of scenario ... The people I’ve already spoken to, they’re very much in the same way of thinking as I am.’

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