‘There were sealed cupboards and so we thought we’d have a look and see what we could find. Because that’s what you do when you’re that age.’
Kourtney went to an elite private school in Melbourne. Her siblings also attended and her mother worked there part time. Kourtney loved her school.
She often saw an old man hanging around. He wasn’t a teacher but liked to show the kids toys. Kourtney doesn’t know the man’s name but she received a toy from him once.
‘I never knew his connection to the school but he was always there. He seemed to know the principal.’
In the early 80s when she was six, Kourtney and her friend were driven home after school by this man. She knew her friend’s mother had a regular arrangement with him to take care of her friend.
Kourtney knew her mother was there at home but in another room. She remembered being completely naked with her friend and this man touching them both. From then on, Kourtney kept her distance whenever she saw him at the school.
A couple of years later, Kourtney told her mother about the abuse. Despite not knowing what it was, she explained it as best she could. Her mother dismissed the story and didn’t want to talk about it again. For many years Kourtney thought the abuse never occurred.
‘My friend said it didn’t happen, which made me think that it didn’t occur … It took a long time to remember that something had happened but in my own head I thought I made it up.’
In the early 90s, Kourtney received a scholarship and became a boarder. She and her friend were bored one afternoon and decided to open some cupboards in the library. The girls had always wondered if anything was kept behind the sealed cupboards.
Kourtney found a box of photographs of several different students from previous years, some in school uniform and some naked. Many of the photos had names and dates on the back.
She immediately took the photos to the principal. Kourtney remembers him snatching the box out of her hand and telling them not to tell anyone about what they had found.
‘I believe he told me he destroyed them … The impression that I got, although it was never said, was that I was a scholarship student and that if I told anyone that it would potentially jeopardise my scholarship.’
Kourtney never knew what became of those photographs and she didn’t talk to the principal about them again. Kourtney did mention the photos to her mother, who again didn’t believe her.
Throughout her teens and adulthood, Kourtney has had trust issues and difficulties in maintaining intimate relationships. Depression and severe anxiety have affected her ability to work. But Kourtney has a great relationship with her counsellor who she’s been seeing for the past two decades.
Kourtney didn’t report her abuser to the police because she didn’t think she would be believed. She told her mother about coming to the Royal Commission to share her story and was disappointed that there was no support.
‘She said I should let sleeping dogs lie.’