Katerina's story

Katerina attended a private session on behalf of her late brother, Cameron, who recently died by suicide. Cameron had first disclosed the details of the sexual abuse he experienced as a child to her months earlier and ‘I’ll live with it until the day I die’. She attended the session with their mother, who did not know of the abuse until after Cameron’s death.

Cameron grew up in a close-knit Catholic family in Victoria. He was a ‘happy’ child who loved learning, but a disability meant he was unable to ‘keep up’ with his classmates. Katerina recalls him wanting to go ‘to a normal school’ as he didn’t want to be labelled as ‘special’.

In the mid-1970s 13 year old Cameron was sent to a boarding school run by the Sacred Heart Missionaries. The school provided Cameron with ‘extra tuition’ as well as boarding accommodation.

Katerina was told that the school had a culture of violence. It was here that Cameron was ‘continuously beaten’ and sexually abused by Brother Paul Dye.

Cameron was often sent to the laundry by his teachers when he ‘misbehaved’. At the laundry he was usually met by Brother Dye, but Katerina believes there was more than one perpetrator. Cameron was ‘whipped’ with his pants down to his ankles as he leant over a box. Dye often ‘touched’ his bottom and stroked his testicles after the canings.

If Cameron did not keep still, which he often didn’t, he would be beaten more. This abuse continued for a period of three years. He felt he couldn’t tell anyone about what was happening at the college.

Dye told Cameron that his parents signed a permission form that allowed his teachers to punish him ‘as they saw fit’. For decades, Cameron believed that his parents betrayed him and this caused a huge strain on his personal relationships with his family. His relationship with their mother was never fully reconciled.

By the time he was 14 years old Cameron was running away from the boarding school regularly. He told Katerina it was his way of escaping the beatings and the sexual abuse. His truancy resulted in his removal from the school in the early 1980s. The abuse ceased when he moved back home.

Upon his return, Katerina noticed significant differences in Cameron’s behaviour. He began to isolate himself from the family which was the complete opposite of his personality. He started to yell at his family members and would often refuse to eat, had difficulty sleeping, and suffered from anxiety. Anger became a significant personality trait and continued to get worse in his adulthood, especially after drinking alcohol.

When he was in his 20s Cameron met his wife Krista. Katerina said they had a ‘dysfunctional’ relationship. She noted Krista’s dominating and manipulative personality having a huge impact on Cameron’s unhappiness. They would often have verbal fights and Cameron was kicked out of the home several times, unable to see his children. Katerina believes these arguments have affected Cameron’s children significantly.

Cameron first told Katerina of the abuse after his dog died. They were burying the pet when he said that he ‘hasn’t felt this empty’ since his boarding school days. He told her he felt ‘ashamed’ and ‘humiliated’ by what happened and that’s why he couldn’t tell anyone about the abuse. He also said that he was ‘scared’ and he needed her support.

They decided to report Brother Dye to the police together – and not to tell their mother. In his statement Cameron named numerous other students who were also abused by Brother Dye and a criminal case was established.

Cameron ended his life a few months before Dye was due to be sentenced. He called Katerina, drunk, and thanked her for all the support she had given him over the years. Their mother did not learn about the abuse until after Cameron’s death, which causes her a huge amount of guilt.

Dye had initially pleaded guilty for his offences against Cameron. However after Cameron’s death his plea was changed to ‘not guilty’ and he was not convicted. This meant Katerina was denied the opportunity of reading out a victim impact statement on behalf of her brother, which angers Katerina and her mother to this day.

‘The pain of this on my family is indescribable. We are very angry with Dye, the staff and [the school] and we never forgive what you did to Cameron. His life was destroyed by your actions. The actions of Dye, [the school] and the actions of the Missionary. You betrayed Cameron and you betrayed us and we hold you responsible for Cameron for taking his life. As a Catholic family, none of us will enter the door of a Catholic church again.’

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