Frazer's story

In late middle age around 10 years ago, Frazer decided to consult a psychiatrist. ‘I’d gone through some really serious anger issues … My background is two failed marriages, sexual performance problems, I’ve been in half a dozen mental institutions, committed, depression. I’ll be taking anti-depressants for the rest of my life. I’m alienated from my family, don’t have any contact with siblings. I have a son who I didn’t see through most of his childhood.’

The psychiatrist – ‘She was brilliant, amazing’ – told him that ‘All your problems go back to your childhood’. She helped Frazer come to terms with his father’s memory. ‘We proved that this guy that I had always believed was a great bloke was an absolute mongrel.’

However, Frazer neglected to disclose the biggest trauma from his childhood – the months of regular sexual abuse at the hands of a priest.

‘I just couldn’t talk about it … and there was other things going on’, he said. Even at the Royal Commission, he took a long while to approach the topic directly.

‘I was about 12 and attending a Marist Brothers high school in Sydney.’ One Brother used to approach Frazer as he worked at his desk, put his hand on Frazer’s lap then push it up into the boy’s shorts to fondle his genitals.

‘I think he picked me out because I was an easy target – I was quite small and quite shy. He’d lean over me and his habit would hide what he was doing from anybody else. It would go on for up to 10 minutes … He’d instruct the rest of the class to do something, then he’d come up to have a little chat with me. I was terrified the others would see.

‘It was horrible and suffocating … I remember this weird smell coming from him, which I later understood was semen.’

The dilemma – apart from the abuse, which only ended when Frazer moved to a different class at year’s end – was a question of faith. ‘Dad went to mass every day of his life, donated money every week. We were a very Catholic family. And therein lay the problem.

‘My parents honestly believed that priests and nuns were people of God, and were infallible; they couldn’t do wrong. If I’d told them, I would have been denigrating the Church. I simply would not have been believed.’

Frazer kept quiet until his parents were dead. Then he began writing to Church authorities and was eventually invited to participate in the Towards Healing hearings. ‘I read the literature and I thought, “They may have finally seen the light, they might be doing the right thing”.’

Frazer turned up expecting ‘something like this Commission, with someone who simply says, “Hi mate, what’s the problem? What’s up?”’

Instead he had to pass through a security ‘airlock’ with a video screen. ‘It was like they were expecting someone to arrive with an AK-47. It was just horrible. And inside I was confronted by the Marist Brothers’ solicitor, the head honcho from the Brothers, and a stenographer. There was even a video camera on a tripod, which I suspected was on even though they said it wasn’t. So it was very confronting.’

And frustrating. There was little help with the crucial identification of the Brother, presumably deceased, in question. Frazer couldn’t recall his name. Photographs were presented from different eras, confusing the issue, and other records were ‘not available’.

‘It could have been great but it was a disaster’, Frazer said. ‘Years later there was talk of an assessor, but I didn’t want to go through with it anymore if I wasn’t going to get a fair hearing. It tears your guts out.’

However, the Royal Commission has given him new heart and he’s considering seeking compensation. ‘My father donated a lot of money to the Church. It was called Direct Giving – a brown envelope with a big lump of money each week. Over the years, I estimate he gave between $750,000 and $1 million – and because I was abused, he was actually doing it under false pretences. So I’m looking to obtain a third of that – my share as one of three children.

‘If I can get that – and stop this sort of abuse happening to just one child – then I will have succeeded.’


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