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Kav's story

‘Moving from school to school, difficult to maintain friendships, trying to establish yourself, etc, etc. Low socio-economic group, yeah, alcoholic father … It wasn’t a happy childhood per se.’

When Kav’s parents finally separated in the mid-70s his mother took the children and moved them to Sydney. He began attending a state public school in the inner west of the city, where he soon got to know a teacher by the name of Dwight Hinton.

‘I don’t recall him being my teacher directly but he did fill in a few classes once or twice ... I’m not sure actually how it led up. It was probably the fact that I didn’t have a father. A psychological thing, I was looking for a father figure, he was a kind, caring man who took an interest in me. So we developed a friendship. And somewhere along the line he managed to get me to his house, for a night over …

‘There was all sorts of sporting activities that a young man would be interested in that were promised; kayaking and beaches and all that sort of thing, which we did do. But along with that there was also sexual abuse.’

Kav remembers going into Hinton’s house. ‘It was, “I’ve only got the one room, there’s only the one bed. You will be staying in this room in this bed with me”.’

To make the 10-year-old boy more submissive, Hinton gave him alcohol and marijuana.

About a year later Kav and his family moved interstate. ‘Now, Mr Hinton, somehow, through the education system, managed to obtain my contact details. Contacted my mother and said, “Look, I’ll invite him over for a weekend of fun and frivolity”. Mum was all for it, though I was against it. She thought it’d be good for me to have a holiday and a father figure around for a couple of days. So off I went. And the same abuse again …

‘I don’t ever remember getting threats of any sort, “Don’t tell anyone” or anything like that. The shame and the guilt took care of that. He was a fairly friendly, outgoing adult. Yeah, enough that I couldn’t see any distrust in any of the other adults around him …

‘Everything went downhill pretty much from there. I’ve only just realised … I completely stuffed up my education. I didn’t get along with teachers or what I considered the school system for most of my time after that. My schooling, my “official” schooling, was very short-lived … I left school at 14 and seven months or whatever it was.’

Kav did see some counsellors in high school for his behavioural problems, but doesn’t remember telling them about the abuse.

After leaving school he went straight to work. He had a few different jobs but came to realise that his lack of education limited his career options.

He was feeling the impact of the sexual abuse in other ways, too. ‘I was an alcoholic. I started drinking at about 16. Eighteen was a boon because now alcohol was freely available. I drank heavily till about 32. Quite heavily …

‘There was also a great deal of sexual confusion on my part … I found myself in situations that I wouldn’t have thought I’d be in. With other males. So yeah, there was a great deal of confusion ... lots of angst, lots of problems …

‘There are other impacts that you don’t think of. I have become incredibly protective of children. A lot of other adults don’t understand that and they see that as something, “Oh, hang on, he’s a bit touchy-feely”. So they perceive that as perhaps I’m a predator. But it’s not, it’s just me trying to protect children from other adults that aren’t supposed to be there.’

By his mid-30s Kav’s life had improved. He was sober, married and moving up in his career. But things started unravelling. ‘There was high stress in the job at the time … that was a catalyst, but I think a lot of the weight of my life probably caught up with me as well …

‘I was suffering depression and that got worse and worse and worse and worse and worse. Eventually, institutionalised for a short period of time. Some treatment which most people think is quite barbaric and it is – ECT [electroconvulsive therapy]. But it worked for me.’

During this time Kav was able to tell his wife about the sexual abuse. He also started weekly counselling.

When he heard about the Royal Commission a few years later, Kav said it gave him strength to go further, and he reported Hinton to the police.

‘Currently, I’m told that, it is an active investigation … But the difficulties of prosecution I do understand. Without him sticking his hands up saying, “Yep, I did it, where do I sign?” it’s going to be a difficult road. I don’t even mind if it’s an unsuccessful prosecution. If it’s taking him to court and he has to sit there and listen to it, that’s enough …

‘The greatest positive from it probably is that the process might change. The ability of the Education Department to filter these temporary teachers, find a hole and plug it, something. That would be … the greatest outcome that I could expect from this.’

When he spoke to the Commissioner Kav had a few recommendations. He said that more police officers should be trained in dealing with sexual abuse, so survivors and their reports are treated properly and carefully.

And while he thinks it’s ‘completely unworkable’, he believes teachers should work in pairs, so a male and female are together at all times. And, outside of school hours, social interaction with students should be a ‘sackable offence’.

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