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Grayson's story

All the boys in the dormitory knew that Grayson was being sexually abused by Rob Mayfield, an older student at their Protestant boarding school. Believing the abuse meant that Grayson was homosexual, they used this assumption as grounds to viciously beat and bully him.

Grayson met with the Royal Commission and provided a written account about his experiences at the school. The sexual abuse happened in the mid-1970s, when he was 12 years old. Grayson had not had much company his own age when growing up. His parents let him drink and smoke, and had also given him sedatives from when he was very young. He lived in a rural area on the outskirts of Sydney, and this was his first year boarding at the inner-west school.

Mayfield was in his final year and had his own private bedroom. He enticed Grayson to visit him there, with the promise of cigarettes. ‘I thought it would be an opportunity to make friends with someone, and Rob was a senior student. I did not have any friends at the school, and did not easily make friends.’

Grayson visited Mayfield after lights out, and Mayfield closed the door while they shared a cigarette. ‘I do not remember how he got me to be lying on top of him, he was holding me at some stage, and he stretched out underneath me. ... I could feel his erect penis pushing against my stomach, just above my groin. He got hold of my hips and started to move me back and forward.’

Not understanding what was happening, Grayson jumped up. Mayfield ‘tried to console me’, and then masturbated Grayson. ‘Once I had an erection I freaked out’ and left the room.

It was not long before Mayfield asked him to visit again. Being ‘the sort of person who would do what I was told’, Grayson ‘would have gone into his room simply because he asked me to’. This time when Mayfield abused him, Grayson stayed where he was, ‘probably because I was a little more comfortable with it, or just switched off’.

This abuse happened ‘most nights’ during the week, over a period of three months. One day Mayfield bailed Grayson up in the corridor, demanding he visit, and Grayson tried to resist. ‘I pleaded with him, and absolutely pleaded with him, and being the person I am I had to end up doing it.’

The abuse finally stopped when one of the housemasters – who had become aware of these visits – arranged for the dormitory door to be kept locked at night. ‘From this time, I stopped going into Rob’s room, and he stopped asking me.’

Grayson’s experiences with Mayfield left him vulnerable to further sexual abuse from another housemaster, James Hamilton. It was the second semester, and Hamilton had just started working at the school. Somehow Grayson ended up in Hamilton’s room, and was embarrassed when Hamilton made a comment about Mayfield.

‘He managed to get me in the corner of the room behind the door. I saw him as an authority figure, and did whatever he asked of me. I had my back against the wall. James was standing in front of me when he started to fondle the outside of my crotch. I was wearing my school uniform. ... I was not shocked by it because of my interaction with Rob.’

Hamilton proceeded to masturbate Grayson and himself. Over the next few months Grayson went back to James’ room several afternoons a week. The same thing always happened, and ‘I became extremely disassociated from it’.

Grayson left the school at 16, not having told his parents about the abuse. They became aware of it from other people who had been at school with him, but they didn’t report it to police nor seek support for their son.

Grayson struggled to understand his sexuality – ‘since Rob Mayfield I’d had people telling me I was a poof’ – before realising in his early-20s that he was not homosexual. He became dependent on alcohol and other substances for a long time, and lost his driving licence on numerous occasions for drunk driving. Living totally alone for over a decade, he often did not see anyone else for days. Even so, ‘I thought I was doing okay’.

For most of his life, ‘I didn’t even know you could go to the police. I had no comprehension. I just thought it had happened, and that was it. I understood it was a crime, but because of my social upbringing, I just didn’t comprehend you could do anything about it, and how to go about it’. He eventually made a statement to police in 2009. He was told Mayfield was very ill, and Hamilton had died by suicide after being charged with over 40 counts of sexual offending against children.

Grayson received some compensation, which he rapidly spent on his addictions. He has no assets, and currently lives in a shelter for homeless men.

His father left his entire estate to charities ‘because I’d been such a dreadful son’. Before he died Grayson confronted him about his inaction at the time of the abuse, and he denied ever having heard of it.

After engaging in a number of rehabilitation programs, and becoming involved with Narcotics Anonymous, Grayson had stopped using illicit drugs in the previous year. He told the Commission he now has ‘a clear enough head to process’ his past. He believes people need to be better informed about their options if they experience abuse, and further community education is needed. ‘I wish I’d been aware I was entitled to do anything about it.’

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