‘I didn’t do well at school. My mum was an alcoholic, and I don’t know whether my brain was affected from that … and being so unhappy at boarding school would [have] affected my learning … I’m just feeling inferior, and never had the ability to mix with kids, other people. I remember even in the two years in the primary school, another boy and I would sit at tea time on the edge of the building and look out, hoping to escape … Never did, but.’
Gerald grew up on a farm in rural New South Wales, and in the late 1960s, at the age of 11, he was sent to the Christian boarding school that his father had attended.
‘I was thinking a minute ago … how do you determine which kid should go to boarding school, in a way? It wasn’t right for me, but that was my father’s choice, and I was just trying to I suppose, think of other kids now, that … Is it right for them to go?’
Gerald told the Commissioner that older boys in the senior school had the use of private study rooms, downstairs from the dormitories. It was in one of these rooms that an older student forced Gerald to fondle and perform oral sex on him.
‘I was threatened by him, too, so you know, I’d be bashed or hit and … when you’re at boarding school, those few years are somewhat more intimidating. Those bigger guys … I think he was two or three years older than me and … intimidating.’
The sexual abuse occurred two or three times over the course of a few months. It stopped when Gerald left the school at the end of Form 3.
‘I left [the school] out of unhappiness … [An] only child, and even though my parents were dysfunctional, it was my security. You know, I’d just go up the farm … [It was] all I knew.’ Gerald spent the next 20 years working on the family farm. ‘I was very angry, lose my temper quickly and very … a lot of hurt and anger inside. I’d throw things or break things … inner anger … inner turmoil.’
In the mid-1990s, Gerald was arguing a lot with his mother, and around this time his father died. ‘I’m sure I had depression … was crying and couldn’t handle it and [an old friend] said, “We need to get you away”.’ Three weeks later he moved to a coastal town and has lived there since. At the time of his move, Gerald was not taking medication, but he’s been on antidepressants for a number of years now.
When he first moved away from the farm, Gerald ‘did drink … for a while … the year before I found the Lord … That was my way of releasing and having fun. But yeah, I did have a lot of years that I was off the alcohol, but … I’ve been back on it’. He drifted away from his church for a little while, and spent about $20,000 drinking and gambling.
Gerald has had some counselling through the church he joined when he moved to the coast. ‘I was just remembering that when I was in counselling, that I wasn’t loved … as I needed to be as a child and I’ve had some lady friends and I just give my heart easily and I end up getting hurt … part of not being loved as I needed to be as a child.’
Gerald told the Commissioner, ‘I don’t remember a lot of my childhood. You bury that and you don’t [know] why you behave badly and react and, you know … It’s like dirt buried in your gut or something. It’s like rubbish buried in your gut … I’m ashamed of the way I reacted and did things, out of anger and hurt. I was a mess’.
Gerald came to the Royal Commission after a friend from his church saw an article in a newspaper, and told him about it. ‘I’m doing this mainly for my healing and to help others in the future … This is all healing for me, the tears and you know, getting over it … I’m a walking miracle. I’m a survivor.’