In the early 1960s in southern Sydney, Ken and his friends used to play in the park near the local football ground. He remembers two men, who were heavily involved with the club, used to ask him and his friends over to their house in the afternoons. They’d give the boys beer and cigarettes.
One of these men, Doug, was a coach or assistant. ‘I don’t know how we started going back to this house … Doing something we’re not allowed to do and all kids like to do that.’
One Saturday afternoon, Ken went to the park and his friends weren’t around. He then went over to Doug’s place to see if they had gone there. They hadn’t, but Ken was invited in for a beer. He was led into a bedroom and, while one man held Ken down, the other raped him. Then the two men swapped but this time the other one didn’t penetrate Ken, but ejaculated between his legs.
‘I remember them laughing. I remember they were talking between themselves, having a conversation.’
Ken got out of there, crying. ‘I shouldn’t have been there. If my parents knew I was there drinking and smoking I’d be in trouble. So I didn’t tell anybody.’
Sometime later, one of those men took Ken into bushland and again abused him. Ken doesn’t remember exactly what happened that day. ‘I remember me crying and him laughing. One thing that stuck in my mind was him saying, “Don’t worry, you won’t get pregnant”.’
Ken told no one. He stopped playing football. No one asked him why or if anything was wrong. He didn’t do well at school, but can’t remember what sort of a student he was prior to the abuse.
Ken assumed he was the only one this happened to. However, looking back, he recalls that one of his friends shot himself in his late teens. Ken wonders now if he, too, had been abused.
Apart from becoming an over-protective parent, Ken considers a significant impact of the abuse was his anger, particularly as a young man.
‘I got involved with a group of guys through my work. They used to meet at a hotel near Hyde Park. And at that age I didn’t differentiate between a paedophile and a homosexual … They were all in the one basket. And we used to … have some drinks, [go] to Hyde Park and assault homosexuals and bash them up.’
Ken is no longer in contact with his friends from his childhood. Although he went back to playing football, he didn’t see the men who had abused him again. He’s unsure of the name of one and doesn’t know the name of the other. He never reported the abuse to the police.
In the early 90s, Ken first disclosed to his wife and sister. At the time there was a police initiative to raise awareness of child sexual abuse in the community. He also told his doctor who referred him to a psychiatrist. ‘I thought it was a waste of time … so I didn’t go back to him. And then I sort of put it away in my mind again.’
Years later the Royal Commission started and, at the same time, a number of abuse cases became internationally known, such as the one involving Rolf Harris. Ken became aware that more and more survivors were coming forward. This made him think that there may have been other boys abused, not only himself. He contacted police to see if any reports had been made around the same era, but was told they had nothing on record.
Ken has recently started seeing a counsellor which he is finding helpful. His counsellor pointed out that the beer and cigarettes was part of a grooming process, which is something Ken hadn’t considered. ‘I hadn’t thought about counselling, ongoing. I didn’t know where it would end or when it would end.’
Ken doesn’t want compensation. His purpose in speaking to the Commission was straightforward. ‘This was the goal. To be able to talk to somebody about it and to … put it out there.’