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Jeremy Kyle's story

Jeremy’s family moved to Queensland in the mid-1960s, just before Jeremy was due to begin Grade 4 at an Augustinian Catholic college. During the summer holidays he broke his arm and spent the first month of the school term in hospital. Because he started at his new school late, ‘it was a bit daunting … I didn’t know anyone, not a soul’.

Jeremy’s class teacher was Brother Paul and to Jeremy he seemed a kind and gentle man. Sometime during the first term, Brother Paul asked Jeremy to stay back after class to help him. After the other boys had left, Brother Paul sexually abused Jeremy, touching his genitals and kissing him. He also asked Jeremy about his penis and what he did with it.

‘I was very much aware that something had happened to me that wasn’t comfortable.’ Jeremy cannot remember if this was the only time Brother Paul abused him, and he has trouble recalling much of the rest of that school year.

Jeremy went home and told his mother what had happened. ‘Well, I tried to explain what had happened and of course, being that time when priests and Brothers could do no wrong, according to most people, Mum sort of made very much light of it, saying, “I think you might be making this up”, or “Maybe he was just trying to be friendly” or whatever.’

Until recently, Jeremy assumed that his mother told his father about the abuse, but ‘Mum passed away without telling anybody … so obviously Dad was quite upset about it, and I lived through quite a big part of my teenage life thinking that Dad … [wasn’t] there for me, that [he] knew about it and didn’t do anything about it, and as it turns out, of course … he just wasn’t told’.

Jeremy became ‘quite an angry young man, quite confused and angry’. At 19 he went to jail for armed robbery, ‘a consequence of a lot of built-up anger, frustration, wanting to seek attention’. During the two years he was in jail, Jeremy was sexually assaulted by two inmates.

Jeremy told the Commissioner, ‘I allowed it to happen … I didn’t stop it happening … It just seemed impossible not to allow this to happen to me … Strange how our minds work … [We] tend to blame ourselves, “I must have let this happen”, rather than believing that it’s not your fault’.

Jeremy has seen a number of psychologists to help him deal with the impacts of his sexual abuse. The main impact has been his long-term addiction to alcohol. ‘I definitely need to overcome alcohol addiction. I think that’s slowly taking my life. At the moment it’s something I hang onto I guess, rightly or wrongly. Wrongly, probably, but it’s something I look forward to … self-medication at the end of the day.’

Jeremy has also had problems maintaining relationships, and for some years struggled with his sexual and gender identity. The most recent psychologist he saw was helpful, but he could no longer afford to see her once his assigned number of Medicare sessions ended.

‘One of the things that … the psychologist has been telling me and telling me and telling me is, “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault”, because you do tend to blame yourself. You do tend to say, “Well, I must have done something to invite this to happen”, but I didn’t and it wasn’t my fault and the more I tell myself that, the more empowered I feel.’

Jeremy told the Commissioner, ‘The priests and [others] … doing the wrong thing, I think that’s been going on for probably centuries, but … they’ve never … been game to take it any further … People are getting just a little bit braver now and sort of coming out with it … I tell you what, it’s only because of the Royal Commission and the work that you’re doing that inspired me, challenged me and inspired me to feel more comfortable in sharing this story.

‘I mean, if this Royal Commission hadn’t happened there’d be many people that wouldn’t have told their story and I think this is the greatest thing that’s happened in terms of addressing this issue … I just wanted to say thank you for this.’

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