Jeffrey James's story

From the age of 14 Jeffrey was groomed and sexually abused by an alternative health practitioner and his partner. The grooming was elaborate and manipulative. ‘You can say “Your body’s your own”, like this thing they do at school. “Your body’s your own. Nobody else is allowed to touch it.” That’s all good and well to say that but, by the time you go through the grooming process, that’s out the window.’

Starting in the 1980s, Jeffrey underwent a form of massage therapy because he had pains in his legs. He did this, often on a regular basis, for about four years. The practitioner was a man in his 40s, Doug Taylor. His partner was a woman in her 20s, Barbara Andrews.

The treatment was very painful. Jeffery had to strip naked, and Doug would press very hard in his genital area. In a police statement Jeffrey said, ‘He was asking me heaps of questions and saying to me that if I wanted to get better I had to be in the right frame of mind and believe that it was going to work 100 per cent … He said this very forcefully and I remember feeling a bit scared of him … I remember one time Doug asked me if I could achieve an erection and produce semen’.

At one point Doug brought in pornographic magazines. He masturbated Jeffrey and performed oral sex. Barbara was sometimes in the treatment room with them.

Doug told Jeffrey that if he told anyone, harm would come to his family. He also said that he had to continue treatment, or Jeffrey would end up in a wheelchair. He convinced Jeffrey’s mother of this, too.

His mother allowed Doug and Barbara to take Jeffrey on a camping trip. In his statement, Jeffery recalls, ‘I was excited about going away with them as I thought they were cool. They would talk and treat me almost as an equal and not as a child’.

On the trip, Jeffrey was forced to have intercourse with Barbara. He had never done this with anyone before. Jeffery was told they had chosen him to impregnate Barbara, so she could give birth to the new ‘messiah’. Jeffrey thought it was weird but didn’t completely disbelieve them.

This form of abuse continued and Jeffrey became resigned to the idea that sex would be expected of him whenever he saw them. He recalls being confused. In his statement he said, ‘It was around this time I thought I was in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship with Barbara. I was not quite 15 years old’.

When Jeffrey protested, saying he didn’t want to do it anymore, Doug and Barbara would become verbally abusive and threatening.

The treatments continued, off and on, for years. When Jeffrey was 18, Doug anally penetrated him with a probe. Jeffrey was told not to look at other girls and not to masturbate.

When he couldn’t take it anymore, Jeffrey would spend weeks at a time away from them. But they would ring him up, calling him ‘gutless and worthless’.

The three continued to go away on trips together. ‘I went bushwalking and deliberately put myself in extreme danger by climbing up steep cliff faces … and jumping from rock ledges … I was trying to hurt myself so I wouldn't have to go back to them. I didn't want to live.’

When Jeffrey was 19 he finally called it off. ‘Even though I was scared for my health, I felt relieved and free when I finally left. Doug and Barbara had made me feel very guilty, but I still remember feeling really good that I would no longer have to continue with the “treatment” or see them.’

Jeffrey first disclosed the abuse to his wife when he was 28. A few years later he saw a doctor about the abuse, which he found difficult and upsetting. ‘I remember him saying to me, "I'll send you something in the mail”. I felt as if I'd been brushed off. I never received anything in the mail from him. I was upset that he didn't help me or even give me options about what I could do.’

In the late 2000s Jeffrey reported the abuse to police and made a statement. By then Doug and Barbara had moved interstate. Jeffrey believed they were still in contact with children. He found the police were unprofessional. Although they did discover other victims, the perpetrators were never interviewed. The case was passed from the original detective to another. On one occasion, when Jeffery called this detective, he heard him say ‘Tell him I’m out to lunch’.

Jeffrey then contacted the police commissioner, wanting to know how the investigation could be fast-tracked, only to be told that it had nothing to do with them. In the end, the matter was dropped. Jeffrey was told it was due to a lack of evidence.

‘I was told by these perpetrators once, that “If ever you say anything to anybody … you’ll never win”. And that’s been reinforced every time I say something’, Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey has experienced depression and anxiety over the years. He gave up alcohol because he was drinking too much. He finds it difficult to concentrate, even to read a novel or develop a hobby. He goes through a lot of jobs, too uneasy to stay in one place very long. He’s learned the hard way, that if he’s going through a difficult time, not to disclose his abuse or depression, to a boss. ‘You’ll be lucky to last three months. They’ll push you out. They don’t know how to handle it.

‘Life’s at a standstill’, he told the Commissioner. ‘I don’t know what I want and I don’t know where I’m going … It impacts your whole life and doesn’t seem to go away or get any easier as you get older.’

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