Jock was born into a ‘strict’ Exclusive Brethren family in the early 1960s. His family were heavily involved in the church and the church community but Jock’s parents were often ‘shut out’ of the community for a period of time for ‘speaking their mind’. During these ‘discipline’ periods, Jock would live with another Brethren family or travel interstate to stay with his extended family.
By the time Jock was nine, he and his brothers had visited his aunt and uncle interstate many times. He would often hang out with his older cousins and they would explore the city together. One afternoon when Jock was at his aunt’s, he was sexually abused by his older cousin, Sid. He tried to make Jock perform oral sex on him and when that didn’t work, he made him touch his penis and masturbate it.
Sid abused him at least five times over a period of four years. His aunt and uncle made the boys bathe together, and his aunt often taunted Jock with comments about his penis size. He told his uncle about Sid’s behaviour, but nothing was done.
‘All I could do was call out to [my] uncle and he would dismiss it with his smug attitude and downgrade what I knew was perversely wrong. Being made to shower with [Sid] was wrong in so many different ways.’
In the mid 1970s when Jock was 13, he told his parents about Sid. He hoped that they would understand, but they called him a ‘liar’ and thought he was ‘making it up’. His parents informed the Brethren leaders of the claims he was making and he was ‘grilled’ by the leaders as well. Jock felt like he was the one that had done something wrong and the one that had abused others.
After that, Jock decided to leave the Brethren. He felt that both his parents and the Church ‘didn’t protect’ him and he needed to take it upon himself. When he was 17 he got lots of tattoos to make himself look scary and keep other men away from him. The combination of leaving the Church and getting tattoos was too much for his family and he is still estranged from his parents.
Jock described his progression into adulthood as ‘unhappy’. He found it hard to trust men because he felt their intentions were ‘off’. He started to experiment with drugs and alcohol, which led to an addiction to heroin. He ‘knocked around’ with ‘very bad, very violent people’. He described himself as having been a ‘violent homicidal train wreck’, despite being able to hold down a job during his addiction.
‘Inside I was actually a scared, petrified person needing to keep all emotions and feelings devoid of what a normal person probably felt. Alone in my head, I did my best not to feel anything. Drugs did exactly that. Heroin took me to a place I could escape and feel nothing. It suited me fine until it turned on me.’
In the late 1980s Jock went on a ‘heroin and tequila-fueled binge’ that ended with a person’s accidental death. Jock reported the incident to police but wasn’t charged. He was overwhelmed with guilt and it was then that he decided to get sober.
In the early 2000s, Sid admitted his actions to the Church. Jock said that his parents immediately contacted him when they found out, which upset him deeply as he still feels they failed to protect him by not believing him. ‘Minors don’t make this stuff up’, he said.
Around 12 years ago, he received a letter from the Brethren – an apology for the psychological trauma he’d experienced. He believes it was the Brethren’s way to get him to ‘re-join their ranks’. He said the only way he would consider returning is if the Church had ‘dealt’ with Sid.
Jock was told by Church leaders that Sid had been ‘disciplined’ by the Brethren, but he felt that this wasn’t good enough. He wanted the Church to report Sid to the police, but he knew that it would never happen. He didn’t re-join the Church and is no longer accepted by the Church’s community.
Jock told his parents that he was going to the Royal Commission to make sure that this never happens again and was disappointed to hear they didn’t support his decision. He said the reason he came forward was to ensure that Sid is not abusing others. He has not sought compensation, but wishes to ‘explore’ his options.
Jock has remained sober for several years. He continues to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and is supported by his AA sponsor and a psychologist. He currently volunteers at a youth centre and is half way through his degree at university.