‘I was too scared. My dad was a pretty violent man too. He used to beat me up so I didn’t think he was going to believe me. I thought about it ’cause he used to go, “Why are you a fuck-up?” when I was at school.’
Garry was an only child born to Catholic parents in the early 1980s. He attended his local Catholic school in regional Queensland, which was next to the local church – in fact the church was so close to the playground they could run around behind it.
One day when he was in Year 1 or Year 2, the priest asked Garry to go over and help him with something in the church.
‘He made me take me clothes and that off, and [he was] touching me and stuff. I didn’t know what he was doing but it didn’t feel right and he could see I was frightened ’cause he’d dress me and make sure my shirt was tucked back in right and then he gave me a Milky Way chocolate and he said don’t tell your mum and dad.’
The priest told Garry it was their little secret and if he told anyone, he would be taken away from his parents and put in a home.
So Garry told no one.
The priest got him over to the church a couple more times, making Garry touch him and putting his hand down Garry’s pants when he was tucking his shirt in. Garry kept quiet.
‘From a child’s perspective I thought my whole world was going to get taken away.’
Halfway through Year 2, Garry’s dad got a job in Sydney, so they moved away. But Garry was pretty messed up and didn’t do well in school.
‘All my grades, my whole life because of it I think. I couldn’t tell my dad ’cause he was beating into me. I used to make out I couldn’t see the board, I had glasses, I did an ADD test, pretended I had ADD ’cause I didn’t want to tell them this shit.’
He started taking drugs when he was 12 – ‘smoking weed and doing acid’ – but his parents didn’t notice there was anything wrong until he was about 17 and started using amphetamines.
They took him to a Catholic-run rehab centre but he couldn’t cope with the religious tone.
‘I just couldn’t do it … I hate looking at bibles, I hate it all and everywhere I look there’s God. In here I see bibles, I can’t look at it.’
Garry is now in jail, where he has been for much of his adult life. He said he’s used a lot of drugs in his life and he stays out of jail for a year at the most before he’s back in.
‘It’s shit. No matter what I try I always fail as soon as I start … I’m sick of doing jail. I tried to do a counselling course and I was doing really well and then I just got back on the drugs.’
Garry said he’s kept the abuse a secret until now. He’s had counselling in the past for drug abuse, where he has ‘tiptoed around it a bit’, but he has felt too ashamed to tell anyone the details of what happened.
He is not interested in reporting to police, as he said he lives ‘by code’, meaning he won’t dob someone in. He’s also not interested in an apology from the Church.
‘I don’t know what an apology’s going to do. I really wouldn’t want to hear off them. They disgust me to be honest.’
But he is keen to get some help to deal with his past and plans to do this after he is released.
He also said he hopes children can be better educated than he was about the potential for abuse and where they could turn to if something goes wrong.
‘More warnings about stuff like that would be good. They shouldn’t have to be educated at that age about shit like this but perhaps if they did know …’