‘I never felt anything when Mum died, and I didn’t feel a great deal when my dad died. And I felt really bad about that, actually. Because you’re supposed to love your parents. But I couldn’t love them.’
In the early 1960s, when Hunt was about seven years old, he developed an ongoing health problem. His father, who was a doctor himself, sent him to a colleague named Grenton.
‘He used to put me in a bath … He touched me and stuff … and then he had … he raped me.
‘He just did it. It was like part of … I didn’t know what it was. I was a kid. Had no idea what it was …
‘I couldn’t tell anybody, ‘cause I came from a family where the word was, “Never make your mother get upset” ... I think my mother had a psych condition that was untreated. And I think my dad probably realised that at some point. He used to just sedate her ...
‘I think I said something at some point to my mother. Or someone. And it just got dismissed. But I always got dismissed anyway so it wasn’t like … I guess that was the way, the dynamic of our so-called family.’
After a year of sexual abuse, the impact on Hunt was severe. ‘I couldn’t talk, I stuttered from age seven onwards … I’m guessing that was probably what’s triggered it off … I stopped talking.’
Through the rest of primary and into high school, Hunt barely spoke. But no one, including his parents and teachers, ever asked him what was wrong. ‘They thought I was just being insolent or something, ‘cause I wouldn’t say anything.’
The trauma began to manifest in other ways, too. ‘I was lighting fires ... I didn’t light fires, like little fires. I lit fires at school. Where adults were. And I know what that was all about.’
Around the age of 10 Hunt also started stealing prescription drugs such as Mandrax and Nembutal from his father’s surgery. ‘I just didn’t feel anything.’
In his early teens he was sent to a Christian Brothers school. In a letter to the Royal Commission Hunt wrote, ‘I was abused by a Brother there, his name I think was Ardal, in PE … He would say I was no good at anything and this was the only way I could be good at something. He would tell me that only special boys got treated like this … I just did what I was told as I didn’t want to get into trouble’.
The abuse continued for a number of months, and he thinks it only stopped because the Brother ‘found someone else’.
When Hunt left school he quickly became an addict. ‘I think heroin kept me alive. I know that sounds silly, but I think if I hadn’t have used drugs, we wouldn’t be having this conversation ‘cause I would’ve topped myself.
‘It’s not probably ideal, but I understand why so many people use drugs.’
In his late 20s, after a decade of addiction and becoming ‘a crook’ to fund his habit, Hunt went to rehab. He still goes to Narcotics Anonymous, and said speaking at their meetings helped him get rid of his stutter, ‘because no one laughed’.
He found work helping other addicts and managed to forget, ‘to a point’, the memories of the abuse. ‘I put it in, like, a hole. But it comes out.’
In the early 2000s Hunt’s marriage fell apart and he had a breakdown. ‘I probably shouldn’t have got married. But she found me acceptable when no one else ever really had …
‘I couldn’t have a sex life with my wife … She was the adult, I’ve never felt like an adult.’
He started having counselling but had to stop when he ran out of money. Hunt said, if he could afford more therapy, ‘I’d be going forever’.
Around this time he reported Grenton to the police and contacted the Victims Compensation Tribunal. He received some redress but said the process was ‘horrible’.
‘I just thought they were getting rid of me. That’s how I felt, when I had to explain it. I remember this person who must have been in charge asking me all these questions about what I was going to do with the money.’
After trying to block out the Christian Brother’s abuse for many years, and even convince himself it didn’t happen, Hunt realised the memories were real. When he came to the Royal Commission he was talking to a lawyer about making a civil claim, but wasn’t sure if he wanted to open those old wounds again.
The Commissioner asked Hunt how he was dealing with his past. ‘I think about killing myself often. Does that answer your question? That’s how I feel, if the truth be known ... Sometimes I just think, “This is all too hard” …
‘It’s like being in a war.’
But he also spoke of going overseas, to be reunited with the woman he married in the mid-2010s. ‘She’s keeping me alive,’ he said.
‘To answer your question, I guess, my wife … and what I’ve done … actually how I’ve turned out, it’s a bit remarkable. I can’t believe I said that, because I never think that much about myself. But there’s a part, a little part, comes up sometimes that thinks that.
‘I’m not sure if there’s a God, but I want to sort of keep my options open around that, just in case. If he’s got a halfway decent sense of humour, I hope I might get in.’