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Drew Michael's story

Drew grew up on a New South Wales farm. His parents weren’t Catholic, but because the nearest state high school was some distance from their home, it was decided that Drew should be sent to a regional Catholic boarding school. It was the early 1990s.

‘I was just a normal kid, just going to school and all that, and then my parents sent me to this boarding school … I only stayed there for probably a year, a year and a half … because of all the sexual assaults … that kept going on to me and just made me really angry as a kid.’

Drew couldn’t remember the name of the main culprit who physically and sexually abused him and other boys, but recalled that he was the head Christian Brother at the school. ‘I’ve tried to put all this stuff out of my head till just recently.’

The Brother used to take boys upstairs to his office and ‘sexually assault 'em or bash 'em … [He] used to bash you with a big plastic stick and also he’d sexually assault us, make us do crude acts on him and … he’d just do stuff to us, like stick his finger in the butt … full-on sexual assault’.

Drew told the Commissioner that another Brother witnessed him being sexually assaulted on one occasion, but did nothing to stop it and didn’t report it. As well as the sexual abuse, Drew suffered severe physical abuse and was once beaten so badly that he was hospitalised.

Drew has never told anyone about the abuse ‘especially back then, because I was just living in fear pretty much, because I was stuck in this school … I was just living on the edge the whole time I was there until I could finally just play up enough to get expelled from there, and that’s what happened with me.'

Another reason Drew didn’t tell anyone was because, ‘it’s embarrassing back then, you know ... I had no one to really tell anyway. My parents wouldn’t have listened to it … They would probably thought I was making it up or something. It was just one of those situations where I had no one to tell or anything'.

Once Drew returned home, he found that ‘I could never go to any schools or anything like that for the rest of me life, so I got a bad education … And then … I started getting into crimes and I’ve actually got a severe mental health problem. I haven’t been able to hold down jobs. I’ve ended up in jail’.

Drew believes the abuse he experienced ‘ruined my life’. He suffers from depression and anxiety, and has flashbacks and nightmares. Even though he’d been assessed and treated for mental health issues, he’d never mentioned the abuse to health professionals treating him.

‘As I said, with my mental health side, it’s all about pretty much with him and I don’t sleep properly, I just constantly, yeah, ever since I’ve brought it back up again, just from speaking to you guys, I’ve had severe, sort of like traumatic events, sort of remembering and just constant effects. I still remember his voice and all that, and remember what he used to do to me.’

Drew came forward to the Royal Commission because, ‘it sort of just came up. One of me mates is going through the same sort of thing, and I’d seen a sign on the [prison] phone box, and I just rang it one day and that was where it all started’.

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