Gregory was a shy child, and always under his ‘mother’s wings’. His dad was an alcoholic who often physically assaulted his mum.
Gregory started kindergarten at his suburban Sydney Catholic school in the early 1970s. ‘I was very scared of going to school in the first place, as most kids probably are.’
He spoke with the Commissioner about one occasion in his first year there, when he had asked the teacher permission to use the toilet three times. She kept refusing to let him go, and he eventually soiled himself – ‘she ignored me, but yet punished me in a big way’.
The teacher then made two other kids from the class, one boy and one girl, accompany him to the bathroom and help him get cleaned up. She then ‘put me in one of the cubicles, and made me bend over the toilet, and made these other two children virtually wipe my bum’.
He was extremely embarrassed, and this feeling has followed him all his life. ‘Of course the kids talked about it, and they teased, and really it sort of does affect me, socially.
‘I don’t feel like I can speak up, I don’t speak my feelings ... I feel like I’m being put down in my place all the time.’
Gregory wanted to tell his parents about what had happened to him, but couldn’t find the words to do so. ‘I just kept quiet about it. I thought that would be the way I was going to deal with it.’
He now feels that this incident was sexual abuse, and it is ‘always fresh in my mind’. ‘I’m 47 now, and I can still remember that day like it was yesterday ... And I think I just sort of learnt to just keep quiet about stuff, it’s easier.’
When Gregory was around seven a local boy in his early teens invited him over to play. While he was there, the boy performed oral sex on Gregory and tried to penetrate him. He felt ‘humiliated again. I didn’t know really what to think of that ‘cause
I was young’.
Gregory never told anybody about this abuse, as he was scared of being judged, and often wonders whether this boy also assaulted other children. He moved to a public school and made new friends. Things got a bit better, but he was still very insecure. ‘I could never really sort of feel like I fit in, or belong.’
After leaving school in Year 10, he started working as a labourer, then drove trucks. He started drinking heavily ‘to forget, really’, and to cope with his shyness.
‘If I wasn’t drinking, I couldn’t socialise. I just wouldn’t be able to strike up a conversation with anyone. I just can’t talk to people unless I’ve had a drink.’ He started using ice, too.
Although he has had girlfriends, he decided not to marry or have kids, as he didn’t want to repeat the same home environment he had.
‘I wasn’t going to have kids to do the same thing to them. Like have kids, have a family, and then go to the pub every night, come home half-tanked and then abuse your wife or your children ... I won’t have kids for that reason. I don’t want to do that to them, or my wife.’
Gregory is currently in jail for child sex offences, but doesn’t believe his offending is related to being abused himself. ‘I feel disgusted in myself for my actions, and I deserve to be here. I don’t blame anyone bar myself. I take full responsibility for my actions. I just hope [his victim] is okay, and doing well.’
As yet, he has not undergone any psychological treatment regarding the abuse he experienced or committed, or his issues with substance use, but is soon to commence a sex offenders program. He is in contact with his family, and intends to live with his mother after he’s released.
Life in prison reminds him of school, and without access to alcohol or drugs it’s hard for him to mingle with other inmates. ‘Being inside here, I don’t socialise much. Because it’s all over again, really being in jail is put me back into my school ... If I’ve got the choice to stay in my cell and lay in bed, that’s what I do. I might read a book.’