Glenn was 12 years old. The only person he could think of to talk to was his parish priest, so he went to confession.
In tears, he opened up to the priest and told him that Brother Walsh, his school principal, was abusing him. The priest said, ‘Brothers don’t do anything untoward to you unless you deserve it’. He gave Glenn penance.
Glenn grew up in a devout Catholic family in the 1960s. He did chores for the school to help pay for school fees. It was at these times that Brother Walsh had greater access to him. Walsh fondled Glenn’s penis and put his fingers in his anus. He told Glenn he was checking he had washed himself properly. He told Glenn not to tell anyone.
Glenn was too scared to tell his parents. He knew his mother wouldn’t believe him. It appeared to him that the deputy principal, another Brother, knew what was going on and was doing nothing. It was confusing for Glenn because he didn’t know if it was okay for the Brother to be doing this. At the time, he was unaware that sex between males was even possible.
‘I didn’t want to say what happened to me because I didn’t want all the kids laughing at me. I didn’t want anyone to know.’
Glenn went to another high school and, at 16, became a cadet in the defence forces.
As a cadet, Glenn was highly aware of the potential for sexual abuse. He was humiliated a number of times. His superiors laughed at the size of his penis, and he was severely punished as part of the brutal culture there, but he felt lucky that he was never actually sexually abused.
He was, however, repeatedly threatened, and he felt that it only a matter of time before he was going to become somebody’s ‘bum boy’. He wanted to leave, and tried numerous ways of getting kicked out, including deliberately failing a test, but it didn’t work. Finally, he was given an ‘unsuitable discharge’, something he had never heard of before and or since.
Still a teenager, and without completing his apprenticeship, Glenn went from job to job. He married young and started a family. He has always found physical intimacy difficult, and one of his fears was that he would become homosexual.
Glenn went to great lengths to protect his children from a person in his community who had been charged with child sexual offences. However, this caused considerable tension in his marriage. He never disclosed his abuse to his first wife.
He didn’t report any of the abuse to the police either as he didn’t know it was a police matter.
‘I felt that, well, I wasn’t sodomised so I wasn’t sexually abused. Do you know what I mean? That was the thing … I didn’t think that, even when I was older.’ Glenn’s first disclosure was to his current wife.
Coming to the Royal Commission has been extremely difficult for Glenn as it brought up painful memories and feelings related to the abuse.
‘I want to try and forget it … I don’t know how to … I haven’t even been to work … for the last three weeks. I can’t even get out of bed to go to work now … I’m not sleeping properly at night. I mean, I’ve had visions over the years and everything like that, but … I actually thought it might go the other way, you know, when I come to see the Royal Commission, you’ll sort of feel a lot better. I’m actually feeling worse. You know, you feel better when you tell your story … but it’s not.’
‘I don’t know how this is going to go away now, that’s the thing. I don’t know how I’m going to get rid of it. I don’t know what to do. It’s just got worse now.’