In the early 1970s, Mr Brown was dormitory leader at a New South Wales sport and recreation camp. Twelve-year-old Douglas was frightened of Brown who sexually abused him in the short time he was there.
Within a couple of days of arrival, Brown was removed from the dormitory leader role but he remained at the camp.
Douglas remembers feeling powerless. ‘I was terrified of this guy because of some of the things he did, and I know the other kids were the same and yet when he was removed, it was bizarre. It was this feeling that we had to protect him. We were concerned that he’d been taken away. It was the weirdest.’
Douglas didn’t disclose the abuse to anyone, not even his parents.
He felt like a different person after the camp. Within a year, he’d started to rebel against authority and he was self-harming and was in trouble with the police. Douglas’ mother was very involved with the Anglican Church and encouraged him to talk to Reverend Edwards, the local minister.
Douglas revealed the details of his experiences at the camp to Reverend Edwards, who then began sexually abusing him.
‘I feel I was an easy target because I was a troubled kid’, Douglas said.
‘This time it was different because I was older and I’d been through puberty and I couldn’t stop my body reacting.’
In his late teens Douglas tried to end his life by taking a drug overdose. He was subsequently admitted to hospital and afterwards participated in a rehabilitation program run by a not-for-profit organisation.
No one along the way questioned why Douglas was behaving as he did.
‘It is a miracle that I’m sitting here today.’
Publicity surrounding the Royal Commission became the catalyst for him to start talking about the abuse. Before then, he’d been worried about how he would be perceived.
He believes his children are better educated with regard to their own safety, and this is mainly because his own past experiences have made him so active in educating them.