Gerard Mathew's story

Gerard grew up during the 1950s in the same small Queensland town as his parents and grandparents before him. His father had post-traumatic stress disorder from his experiences in the military, and because of this (and his developing alcoholism) was unable to do many activities with Gerard.

Although Gerard’s parents were not regular churchgoers, his mother encouraged the children to attend the local Methodist church and Sunday school from a young age. When Gerard was 12, Reverend Adamson started at the church, running a youth program and camps for the kids. Gerard believes Adamson was aware of the situation with his father and took advantage of this.

‘I was obviously groomed towards illicit sexual activity and acts of indecency. He induced me to perform various sexual acts, which included masturbation and oral sex.

‘On one occasion while he induced me to stay at his residence while his wife was away, [he] endeavoured to commit an act of sodomy, Vaseline at the ready and all. I resisted this as I knew it was not my right and the size of his penis frightened me also.’

Adamson offered to help teach Gerard to drive, and would take him out on the quiet country roads. ‘There we would pull over for my usual lesson in oral sex ... I tried to avoid these occasions, as I knew what was in store for me.’

Gerard’s family never talked about sex, and he did not know how to tell them about what Adamson was doing so he never disclosed it at the time. ‘These subjects were not discussed, and I knew what was going on was wrong, but seemed to have some fear of being found out ... I was just frightened to tell anybody.’

He began to believe he was intrinsically bad, and to struggle academically.

‘My years at this time at school had become difficult also, I now realise. I became rebellious and would not perform at my schoolwork, and was repeatedly caned by the headmaster for various reasons, all to do with my rebellion ... I just came to think that maybe I was just a pretty horrid child all round. I used to feel pretty dumb at school ...

‘I actually really wanted to leave school and leave home and just get a job. And I reckon it was because this bloke [Adamson] was annoying me so much.’

The abuse continued for three years, until Gerard had left school and moved towns. He found work he excelled in, and stayed with the same company for three decades.

As a young adult Gerard married his wife Maeve and had kids. Adamson married them in the church, which Gerard now greatly regrets.

Maeve had also experienced sexual abuse as a child, and Gerard disclosed his experiences to her shortly after they wed. ‘We have always spoken very openly ... She’s supported me all my life. We just sort of can’t get on without one another.’

Physical intimacy has been an important part of their relationship. ‘It’s just amazing, the background we come from the pair of us, having been sexually abused, and throughout our relationship sex has been the important, and still is – not the most, but it’s right up there as part of a good relationship. And we’re good mates.’

Gerard and Maeve didn’t think much about the abuse for some years, as they were busy working, caring for their children (‘I think we’ve probably protected our kids a little too much’), and paying bills.

Maeve told the Commissioner that she had once informed Gerard’s mother about Adamson, with his permission, and she’d replied ‘I wondered why he always used to come around. I thought he was a nice person. So she had a few tears but she never talked about it again’.

Adamson contacted Gerard out of the blue on his birthday, many years after the abuse. This was a terrible shock, and they have had a silent number ever since.

Recently Maeve was approached by someone Adamson knew asking for their address, on the grounds that the minister wanted to send them an anniversary card. She said she would prefer to have Adamson’s address to get in touch with him herself, then sent him an ‘explicit’ letter addressed to him and his wife detailing what she knew about the abuse.

Gerard then made a police report about Adamson, who is quite elderly but had still been working part-time in the Church, and Adamson was tried and convicted.

As Gerard gets older he feels increasingly ‘nervy and jumpy’ all of the time, and finds he is triggered when child sexual abuse is mentioned in the media. ‘When I hear of children on the news and their molesters, I became so agitated and angry, and it causes me a lot of distress.’

He now lives with chronic pain, and ‘flashbacks, very clear ones, and even dreams of this activity and his face, and they cause me distress’, which has led him to feeling suicidal at times.

‘I’d had visions, bad visions, due to all my pain and the stress of all this nonsense that seemed to boiling up inside me, that I should end it all. These thoughts were not many, and they were only temporary, as I had such a supportive loving wife, two kids, and grandchildren to set an example to.’

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