Erik was born into a large ‘wealthy’ family in Melbourne in the mid 1960s. His parents were successful corporate workers, but mostly absent from the family home. His family aren’t ‘emotional’ and tend to not ‘live in an emotional world’.
In the mid 1970s when Erik was 10, he came into contact with Jonathan Grant. Grant was a ‘charming’ man in his 30s who taught at Erik’s primary school. He was a popular teacher and everyone wanted to be in his class or around him. Erik was immediately drawn to the ‘fun teacher’.
One afternoon after class had finished, Erik was invited to go on an overnight sailing adventure with Grant the following weekend. He recalls being excited and asking his parents for permission that night, and they were happy for him to go. On the day of the adventure, Erik’s father dropped him off at the dock where the boat was moored and didn’t stay to have a chat with Grant.
Erik didn’t know that another boy, Mark Quentin, from his class was attending the sailing trip until he arrived at the dock. He recalled the boat having only two beds and the sleeping arrangements were decided by Grant. Erik was to share the larger bed with Grant while Mark slept alone. Later that night, Grant fondled Erik’s penis several times.
Erik didn’t say anything about the abuse at the time because he was confused as to what had happened. He had no knowledge of sexual things and assumed it was all a game. Erik believed that the abuse was ‘normal’ and that Grant was ‘just having fun’ with him.
‘As a 10-year-old you don’t actually understand what’s been done to you … In my case it was games, it was fun. There was ambiguity around it … Does it make me lucky and privileged?’
After the sailing trip, Erik didn’t have much to do with Grant again. He said that he was aware that Grant continued to take students on boat trips and other excursions, but didn’t know how to react. Erik left primary school the following year and never saw Grant again.
It took a long time for Erik to understand what had happened to him. As he progressed through his teenage years, he learnt about sexual behaviour and predatory behaviour. He told his parents of the abuse when he was 19 and hoped they would offer their support. However, they were dismissive, and told him to ‘move on’ as it had happened ‘so long ago’. This angered Erik, and his relationship with his parents became strained.
About 20 years ago at a social event, Erik’s parents saw Mark Quentin’s parents. The Quentins told them that they knew Mark witnessed Erik being abused by Grant on the sailing trip. Erik’s parents took no action and did not pursue the matter with Erik or discuss it with him. This continues to upset Erik to this day.
Erik feels a deep sense of shame that he didn’t report the abuse earlier because he may have been able to stop Grant from continuing to abuse children. He has a ‘short fuse’ and gets angry very easily, and didn’t have many relationships in his adulthood. He has ‘a world of anger towards’ Grant, which has been the fuel towards finding him and bringing him to justice.
Erik is very involved in his children’s lives. He is a protective parent who is very aware and protective of any sleepovers, and sees any person who comes into contact with his children as ‘potential perpetrators’. He has explained to his children about his private session with the Royal Commission, and has educated them about inappropriate touching and the essential need to ‘protect their bodies’.
‘It is something that textures every interaction at some level, whether it’s conscious or unconscious. I worry for the kids when they have sleepovers more than my parents do.’
In the mid 2010s Erik reported the abuse to the Royal Commission. His case was then referred to the police and the SANO taskforce. He understands the investigation is continuing but has not heard from SANO for a number of months. Erik has been offered counselling through SANO which he said has been helpful. He is aware that Grant is currently serving time in jail for sex offences.
Over time, Erik has learnt why victims of child sexual abuse might go on to become perpetrators themselves. He said that it ‘breaks a taboo’ that can justify the act as ‘okay’ by allowing perpetrators to ‘suspend their reality’.
‘There’s something that breaks and you can’t put it back together again. It does do that to you, and someone that hasn’t been molested doesn’t understand [that]. If you put together a whole lot of factors in a person where their conscious gets suspended in some way that you could justify the behaviour … I can understand the logic behind [child sexual abuse] … It can change your frame of reference.’