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Greg John's story

Greg was born in regional New South Wales in the late 1960s. His father was often absent as he moved up and down the coast looking for work. When Greg was about seven years old, the family moved to Sydney. Shortly after that his father left for good, leaving Greg and his two siblings without a male role model. Greg feels this made him susceptible to the sexual abuse he experienced later.

Greg went to a Patrician Brothers college in Sydney where he joined the football team. He was coached by Richard O’Rourke who wasn’t a teacher but an ‘old boy’ of the college.

One night Greg, then aged 16, was drinking with O’Rourke and some teammates. Greg recalls drinking was a big part of the football culture. When it was time to go home, O’Rourke suggested he go back to Greg’s place. As he was a family friend, Greg went along with it.

Greg and his brother slept in a granny flat at the back of the house. On this particular night, however, his brother was away so Greg offered the vacant bed to O’Rourke. Later that night, he woke up to discover the man performing oral sex on him. Greg was shocked and pushed him away. When he woke up the next morning, O’Rourke was gone.

Greg said the abuse had ‘a big impact’ on him. He hadn’t had any intimate contact with a woman at that stage and wasn’t interested in having any with a man.

He told a few other members of the football team about what O’Rourke had done. He recalls ‘there was some sort of air that it had occurred to other fellas’.

He also told his mother, a fact that Greg is proud of. However, his mother’s reaction was one of disbelief ‘because he was such a likeable fellow and around the same age as her and she didn’t do anything … and I’m very disappointed with her that she didn’t do anything but what else can I do?’ His mother had formed a friendship with O’Rourke by that time.

About a month after the incident Greg had the courage to approach O’Rourke directly. The man laughed at him.

‘The disgusting thing that I remember is he said “You enjoyed it” … That hurts. That still hurts.’

Greg didn’t tell anyone at the school. He had dropped out a few months before the incident occurred but was still involved with the football team. He is not seeking any redress from the school as he feels that opportunity has passed.

Motivated by the existence of the Royal Commission, however, Greg recently reported the abuse to the police. They were willing to pursue the case, but he decided not to proceed due to other issues in his life.

Despite still feeling angry with the perpetrator, Greg is happy with his ‘life’s journey’. He travelled overseas in his late teens and early 20s, which helped broaden his perspective.

He had what he describes as lovely relationships with women, and later married and had children. Although he’s now separated, he is a proud father and active in his children’s lives.

Greg has done a lot of counselling over the years and admits he is quite homophobic, something he recognises is a problem. He maintains a good relationship with his mother and all his family. He is active in men’s counselling in his local area and believes more support is needed for men and boys suffering trauma.

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