Gregory’s mother was young and unmarried when she had him. In the early 1950s when Gregory was just a baby, he was taken from her and put into state care in Brisbane. He was eventually fostered and then adopted by the Anderson family. At this stage his name was changed from Gregory to Martin.
His foster mother, Mrs Anderson, was a devout Anglican who dragged Gregory (now Martin) along to church and Sunday school every week. At age 12 Martin was getting set to make his confirmation under the guidance of the priest, Father Bastin. He said, ‘While I was doing the confirmation thing, that’s when the priest started molesting me. And after I got confirmed it just progressively got worse’.
The abuse continued over the next two years until one day Martin decided that he needed to get help.
‘When I was about 14 I finally got the nerve to tell my Mum. And she called me a lying, blaspheming little bastard: “How dare you say that about Father Bastin.”’
After that, the relationship between Martin and his foster mum completely fell apart. ‘I just argued. I didn’t have any respect for her anymore.’ He set out to hurt and embarrass her, committing acts of petty crime so that he’d get caught by the cops and brought home in full view of the neighbours. Six months later he came home one day to find his foster parents talking with a detective.
‘He informed me that the next day they would take me up to the children’s court, I’d be classed as uncontrollable and I’d be put into a home for an indeterminate period of time. I was made a ward of the state then.’
Martin ended up in a state-run boys’ home. Early in his stay one of the officers sexually abused him. ‘He had this fascination of looking at me in the showers, and he touched me.’ At 16 Martin was moved to another boys’ home where, on his first night, he was sexually abused by one of the older inmates.
Eventually Martin left the home, but a short while later he ended up in jail. Ironically, it was there that his life took a turn for the better. He said, ‘The trade that I learnt in prison saved me’. When he got out he was able to get a job, work hard and raise several kids on his own. Underneath the surface, however, he was struggling with the legacy of the abuse. He suffered from nightmares, found it difficult to be affectionate with others and self-medicated with alcohol.
More than 40 years passed and Martin kept the abuse mostly to himself. Then one day he opened up to a mate who told him about some of the redress schemes available to survivors of child sexual abuse. He made an appointment to see a lawyer but when the day came he started having second thoughts.
‘I thought, what the mother said to me – “You’re a lying, blaspheming little bastard” – I thought, nup, what’s the point? What’s the point going up there to see her today? I sat at home, had a bourbon, had a couple of bourbons, and I looked at the time and thought, no I’ve got to be a man about this, I’ve got to tell her to her face.’
It turned out to be one of the best decisions he’s made. The lawyer told him that she’d been in touch with a representative from the Anglican Church. This representative revealed that Bastin had already been reported for offences he’d committed against other children. ‘And she said, “You’re going to be believed this time”. Finally someone was believing me.’
Sometime later Martin received a personal apology from a senior Anglican clergyman and about $65,000 compensation. He was satisfied with the outcome and feels he was treated fairly. ‘I actually got to ask him questions. It wasn’t just, “Here’s your money. On your way”.’
Around this time Martin began regular counselling sessions which he has found enormously helpful and maintains to this day. He also threw aside the name ‘Martin’ and returned to ‘Gregory’.
‘I took on my birth name, that’s the name my mother gave me, as a way of getting through what had happened to me, because nothing has happened to Gregory, it all happened to Martin.’
The problem was that the plan worked too well and as Gregory moved deeper into his new identity he found himself becoming less empathetic to his partner, Jen, who was also struggling to deal with the sexual abuse she suffered as a child.
‘I wasn’t a very nice person over the last couple of years. I turned into a proper arsehole to her… The better I got the more I grew into Gregory and I started not wanting to deal with Jen’s problem. We had to have a bit of separation last year where I just kicked her out.’
Eventually Gregory had to sit down and ‘self counsel’.
‘And what I mean ‘self-counseled myself’ is: I sat there and Martin was sitting over there and I was sitting here. And I’m talking to myself but I’m talking to him and Martin is answering. Cut a long story short: Martin said, “You’re wrecking the person that I love”. I had to change. And we are better now than what we’ve ever been before.’