Close

Jacob Timothy's story

Jacob’s dad was physically and emotionally abusive, and so he chose to board at a Marist Brothers college for high school in the 1980s to avoid being at home. As it turned out however, ‘I got out of a situation into a bigger situation. I thought that I’d go to school and I’d be popular and have friends, and they’d be nice to me and what have you. All they ever did was abuse me’.

The culture at the college was one of harsh discipline, with staff regularly caning the boys. Jacob felt somewhat ostracised and came to see Mr Hubert, an older man and former Brother working at the school, as a sort of father figure who ‘took me under his wing’. Hubert treated Jacob kindly at first, but soon started sexually abusing him.

This abuse happened frequently and often included rape, which caused injury to Jacob’s bowel. He would regularly bleed profusely from his anus as a result, and frequently visited the infirmary for this issue, which persists to this day. This meant regular contact with the school nurse and a doctor who would be called in. He also saw a nun who acted as the school’s counsellor almost daily, and was sent to a psychologist. Other students viciously teased him about the bleeding and for spending so much time with the nurse and counsellor.

Jacob would run away from the school, but the police would pick him up and return him. This would lead to him being put on detention for the semester, which gave Hubert further access to abuse him.

One time Jacob was with his family during the holidays and began bleeding so badly that his pants were soaked and he was taken to hospital. He believes that incident would have made his parents aware he was being abused, but they did nothing to address this and ignored his begging not to be sent back to the school as he ‘made the choice to go there’.

No one asked Jacob about the bleeding, and no one took any action. He told the Commissioner that with the amount of intervention he had at the school, and in the health system, someone should have known or done something.

He was too scared to report the abuse to anyone at the school as he was already being caned without reason, and staff and students called him names. The other boys knew some of what was happening, and used it as fuel to bully him. ‘The names they called me were disgusting, and derogatory beyond comprehension.’ After a few years the sexual abuse ceased, but he does not know why.

As a young adult Jacob attempted suicide and self-harmed, and ended up in a psychiatric ward. None of his family visited him – ‘I was an embarrassment’. His ongoing struggles with mental health meant he ‘went from something to nothing really quick’, and over the years he has been hospitalised many further times.

‘I’ve been deemed post-traumatic stress, this, that and the other by the powers that be, by the psychologists and so forth ... They wanted to dope me out on medication, I got to the stage there they had me on so much I didn’t know if I was Arthur or Martha.’

He has also been a heavy drinker for many years. ‘I’m not in denial by any means, I know that the alcohol and so forth it just suppresses it, but really it just amplifies it.’

Jacob continues to have a very strained relationship with his parents, who are still together, as they have never offered him any support despite knowing he had been sexually abused. ‘I still to this day cannot forgive them.’

Around five years ago Jacob went through the Towards Healing process, with a lawyer who was ‘only after a fast buck’. He described how the Church representatives made out they ‘were my best mates in the world, and doing me a service’ but ultimately did not treat him well.

Jacob felt pressured to accept the compensation offer they made, being told that if he did not, he would have to go to court and may get nothing. They also persuaded him not to report the incident to police, saying that this would draw out the compensation process and knowing he was ‘desperate’ for the money.

He is upset with himself for accepting this offer, even though he ‘wasn’t in the right headspace’ at the time and was deeply traumatised by the process. ‘I think “you bloody idiot, you were given the one opportunity there”.’ The written apology that was promised has still not been provided.

Most of the compensation Jacob received went to pay debts and the costs of mental health professionals and specialist doctors for ongoing medical problems caused by the abuse, which requires expensive medication to manage. He has continuing financial difficulties as he has been unable to work for periods of time due to his mental and physical health, and people have taken advantage of him.

Although he feels he should be more ‘proactive’ in seeking further compensation, the prospect of having to tell his story again in detail is exhausting and daunting. While Jacob tells his staff at work ‘don’t ever compare yourself to anyone else – be your best self’ he finds this advice difficult to take on board himself.

‘If I could have been afforded the possibility of being my best self ... I dwell on this a lot. I only wonder where I could be or what could have been – and I shouldn’t, I’m so hard on myself in that regard.’

Tags

Content updating Updating complete