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Dougie Phillip's story

‘The Church unfortunately is still trusted. And I’m sorry, they should be treated like any criminal. Nothing that they say should be trusted ... You know how a detective would chase someone who’s murdered someone. These people haven’t just murdered one person, these people have murdered people from the inside, and hundreds of them. And it’s just horrifying. And people still go to church. It just horrifies me.’

In the 1980s Dougie and his brother were sent to a Christian Brothers boarding school in regional Queensland.

One night when he was around 10 years old, Dougie woke up to a man putting his hand in his pyjama pants, but could not clearly see who it was. The man became startled and walked away without saying anything.

Dougie did not report this abuse to anyone at the time. In later years he learned that a teacher from the school had been reported for abusing students, but is unsure if this was the same man as two of the staff looked very similar.

Immediately after this incident Dougie contemplated suicide. ‘I used to sit in my bedroom and wonder if I could do it.’ He never felt able to trust anyone, and later turned to shoplifting and ‘reckless’ driving as a means to escape.

‘People need more help and it’s just not available. I’ve been screaming at people at my life, my parents. Not that I talked about this in particular for a long time. But it coloured my view of the world.’

Dougie has found smoking marijuana more beneficial to his wellbeing than the heavy medications he has been prescribed in the past – ‘Literally I was asleep 24/7 ... that’s not being alive, that’s dead’.

Alcohol has also been a big part of his life. ‘It’s hard to explain ... I used to drink a lot. When you find something that settles you and keeps you reasonably emotionally level, you’ve got to have it.’

Dougie was recommended a specialist legal firm through the Church’s Towards Healing process, in regards to seeking compensation, but is unhappy with how they have treated him over the past three years.

‘I’m really disappointed, this is one of my biggest gripes. They know how sensitive people like me are. I know I’m more stable than most, but they know how sensitive people like us are. And yet they hold back, and they delay, and delay, and delay ... It’s six months before I hear from them in between. It’s more proof that they don’t really care too much.’

One thing his lawyer has tried to do is get Dougie ‘into a room’ with Church representatives to discuss the matter.

‘I don’t think that is a smart idea. These people are not human, not with their behaviour. And I could just explode, not physically hurt them, but I could just explode and I don’t think that’s good for anyone. They’re a disgrace to call themselves human when they’re doing this to people. This is where people go suicidal.’

The last he heard, the Church had ‘finally agreed that something happened, and they’re going to make a compensation payment, and that they’ve appointed a firm of lawyers to deal with that. I just feel like everyone wants to have their little cut. Any money that’s going to be coming to me is for my future, and everyone wants, seems to want to take a little piece of it’.

He has ‘even had Medicare contact me and say that they’ll want money back as well ... I don’t understand how I paid my taxes all these years, and I paid for that service from them, and now all of a sudden because I’m getting a compensation payment for the hardship that I’ve lived with all my life, they want some money back’.

Having felt ‘my life is this close to collapsing’ for many years, the wait for compensation is incredibly distressing. ‘You hang on trying to get some compensation just so that you can move ahead, and you’re made to work for it.’

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