When Geena was very young she was injured in an accident and thereafter a decade of hospital visits and operations ensued.
During that time Geena was sexually abused by a man she referred to as Dave Bramwell. But he also used other names and ‘would pretend to have a number of occupations', she said.
Bramwell was a volunteer at the hospital and regarded it ‘as his public or democratic right to come in’. He also ‘took a lot of clothes home’ and ‘took a lot of photos of children’, according to Geena.
‘There was a lot of volunteers and it was difficult to know the difference between volunteers and visitors’, she said.
‘He started off saying he was studying to be a social worker … Then he became a medical aide and a nurse. Then he pressured the doctors and he got an actual doctor’s jacket and was pretending to be a doctor.’
Geena remembers her first meeting with Bramwell in the waiting room of the hospital in the 1980s when he claimed to be a social worker, and gave children horse rides on his knees and foot.
When Geena fell off his foot, Bramwell took off his shoe and put his socked toe ‘in the vagina area … on occasion it would really hurt. He would dig inside and make me squirm’.
Her mother pulled her off the man after this scenario had occurred several times, Geena said.
In the 1980s when the abuse began, Bramwell was about 10 years younger than Geena’s parents and dressed conservatively in shorts and ‘walking socks’. Once, when her mother called the police because Bramwell was behaving ‘like a predator in the waiting room with children’, she believed he managed to talk the female officer out of making a report.
Geena recounted incidents she had noted down and she read these to the Commissioner. They included that Bramwell approached her at a park and at her home where he threatened ‘to kill me’, attempted to carry out a psychological test on her at her school, filmed her on the toilet, photographed her playing, and ordered her to change clothes while she was at the hospital.
‘He would say things like he was just checking on my progress or making sure I was okay.’
Some years later Bramwell ‘started to take naked photos of me in the check-up appointment’, Geena said.
She believes Bramwell performed an operation on her in the 1990s, raped her repeatedly over several days including during and after the procedure and forced her to perform sex acts on doctors in the operating theatre. All the while, he made ‘threats to kill me', she said.
‘He would drug children with Rohypnol’, Geena told the Commissioner. ‘He used that a lot. He would put it in soft drinks and other drinks.’
Her grandmother did not believe Geena when she told her she had been abused at the hospital.
Geena reported it to police in the 2000s and also complained of some missing records.
She has also approached police more recently and hopes to make a statement from her notes. An approach to a law firm to take civil action was rebuffed, she said, because the principal was ‘too busy’ and ‘a bit afraid’ because no one else had come forward about that institution.
Now in her 40s, Geena still sees her parents but lives apart from them in a household where she feels supported.
‘Of course’, she had come to the Royal Commission to help prevent abuse of children in the future, she said.
‘But it’s also to have acknowledgement that this occurred. It was so big and it was largely covered up. I was left incredibly scarred – physically scarred – and also just really mentally trapped and I need to have this story heard.’