‘I knew how much it had hurt my mother, what had happened. So I tried to overcompensate, to let her think that everything was perfect … I’ve tried my hardest to let her be proud that I survived it, rather than being honest and saying, “This has damaged me”.’
When Jude was very young his parents were guided through some tough times by a Catholic priest who ministered to their small New South Wales town. Grateful and inspired, they converted to the faith. Jude converted too, and was sent off to the local Catholic primary school, and then to a nearby Christian Brothers College.
He entered his second year at the Christian Brothers College in the early 1960s when he was 10 years old. His new teacher, Brother Wayne, took an immediate interest in him and grew increasingly affectionate as the weeks went by.
‘My initial memories of him were always isolating me from the other schoolchildren, cuddling me, holding me, kissing me … And I think he was trying to see whether I would dob on him. And I was quite compliant. I didn’t know what he was doing.’
Brother Wayne’s behaviour soon escalated to what Jude calls the ‘sinister stuff’, which Wayne inflicted on him after school under the pretext of private sports training.
The other kids quickly noticed that something was going on and teased Jude about it.
‘Everyone knew I was the teacher’s pet. So, really, during school I had no friends.’
Years passed. The abuse continued and the isolation got worse. Jude’s parents began to worry about him. When they heard about a 10-day school camp that Brother Wayne was running, they thought it would be a great opportunity for Jude to socialise with other kids.
‘They thought it would be good for me. And really they played right into his hands because he said to my parents, “I’ll look after him”.’
Jude begged his parents not to make him go to the camp, but they insisted. He was so distraught that he arrived in tears, which set him up for more bullying from the other boys. He suffered that, plus Wayne’s abuse, over the next 10 days. Upon returning to school he was bullied again, and abused again. A short while later he decided that he’d had enough.
One morning he left a note for his family that he was running away then hopped on a train bound for Sydney. Before he could get too far, Brother Wayne phoned up his parents to ask why he wasn’t at school. Jude’s parents called the police who intercepted Jude at one of the small stops along the line and put him on a train going back the other way.
His parents met him, sat him down and asked him why he ran away. In hindsight, Jude believes this was the ‘perfect opportunity’ to tell them about the abuse. But at the time he said nothing. He doesn’t know why.
Still, something good did come from his escape attempt.
‘He never touched me after that. I think it frightened him. I think it scared him that I could have said something.’
As soon as he finished Fourth Form, Jude left the school and started working at an office in town. At age 17 or 18 he met a boy and started a relationship. By then, Jude knew that he was gay.
‘I am gay. I was gay then. What happened with [Brother Wayne], that didn’t make me gay. I believe you’re born the way you are.’
The relationship with the boy didn’t work out and Jude called it off. The boy reacted bitterly and ended up contacting police. Word got back to Jude’s father. He picked Jude up from work one day and asked him about the relationship.
‘I burst out crying. He said, “If you two have been having sex or a relationship or an affair, we have to go to the police station”.’
Jude was interviewed at the station, and for the first time ever he disclosed the abuse.
‘Dad was there, and I opened up about it and I told them my whole life story, basically what happened, how it happened. The response from the police wasn’t very forthright because in those days what I was doing was illegal. I was told, “If you go down and meet other gay men you go to jail. You can have a criminal, sexual record”.’
No charges were laid against Brother Wayne. Unsatisfied, Jude’s dad raised the matter with the local Catholic priest, who was likewise unhelpful. Jude’s dad then turned to his son, asking what they should do, offering to help any way he could. Jude ‘clammed up’ and refused to talk.
It was a painful time for Jude’s parents who both felt the revelation of Jude’s abuse as a challenge to their faith. They dealt with it in different ways, Jude’s mother becoming more religious, while his father going the opposite way and ultimately abandoning the Church.
Meanwhile, Brother Wayne had no idea that he’d even been reported. Neither the police nor the clergy had raised the matter with him. He was so oblivious that he arrived, years later, on the doorstep to visit Jude’s parents and was baffled to find Jude’s mum screaming in his face, telling him to get out.
By this stage, Jude was dealing with problems of his own. He married in his early twenties and divorced a few years later. Then at age 25 he ‘came out’ to his parents and moved to Sydney to live ‘openly as a gay man’. It was not as liberating as he had hoped. Jude tried to form relationships but found it hard to be physically intimate.
‘Touching is something that I – I just – Brother Wayne was a big cuddler and toucher and kisser, and I just can’t – yeah. It’s difficult.’
In the workplace, however, Jude excelled. He puts this down to a ‘desire to prove to my mother and my father – who are both very loving people – that I could be successful’.