‘I had no idea what sex was, not a thing in the world. I knew nothing.’
In the early 1950s when Kristian was nine years old, his parents separated. He was loved by his father but not by his mother. The separation put a financial strain on Kristian’s parents, so he and his siblings were then sent to a Christian Brothers boys’ home in Western Australia. Noel explained that his father was Catholic and believed the home was the ‘best place’ for his children.
Upon his arrival, Kristian and his brother were shown around by Brother Jenks, who was in charge of the home. The home was a violent place and Kristian was shocked to see blood ‘everywhere’.
‘We were taken to see where we were going to sleep and we were taken to the bathroom … There was blood everywhere … There was blood all over the floor, on the white tiles, the tiles in the shower room. My brother and I cried for three days.’
Kristian was separated from his siblings and placed into a dormitory, under the supervision of Brother Franter. Kristian recalls seeing Franter hand out lollies to some of the other boys, who were named as ‘pets’. It didn’t take long for Franter to take a liking to Kristian.
‘[Franter] approached my bed and here I am thinking that I was going to get some lollies. I went willingly with him to get lollies. He sat me on the edge of the bed and I was only there for a short period of time and the next thing I know [Franter] is laying on top of me and he’s making sexual acts on me. Then he rolled me over and removed my pyjamas.’
At the age of 10, Kristian was raped by Franter. He recalls Franter using California Poppy hair oil on him. Kristian woke up the next morning with everything covered in blood. Kristian ‘didn’t want the other boys’ to see his pyjamas so he went to the boiler room and threw them away. He never told anyone about the abuse and never mentioned it to his siblings.
Kristian became very ill after he was raped. The Brothers didn’t care for Kristian but did notify his father about his constant vomiting. Kristian’s father then decided to take him out of the home and to a doctor. Despite being medically examined, Kristian didn’t tell the doctor that he was raped. After being treated, Kristian was sent back to the home.
When he returned, Brother Franter was gone. Brother Jenks questioned Kristian on what happened between him and Franter, only to beat him for not saying anything. When he partially disclosed what Franter had done, Brother Jenks told him he would ‘go to jail’ for what he had done.
‘If I didn’t tell [Brother Jenks], the floggings got more and I copped 12 where my hands were that swollen I couldn’t feed myself.’
Kristian was discharged from the home in the early 1960s when he was 15. He said he received limited schooling when he was at the home and this became an issue for him in the outside world. Kristian couldn’t read or write, and didn’t learn how to until he was in his 60s. He said he became a ‘very angry person’ in his teens and this did not change in his adulthood. Kristian told the Commissioner that there were several instances where he wanted to ‘kill people’, but didn’t act on it.
Throughout his adulthood, Kristian had difficulties with relationships. He has had two marriage breakdowns and is estranged from his children, which upsets him. Kristian has intimacy issues and has trouble showing his emotions. He described himself as a ‘workaholic’ because it was easy to not think of the abuse when he was working. Kristian suffers from anxiety and has suicidal thoughts. He first attempted suicide when he was 19 years old.
Kristian didn’t tell anyone of his abuse for several decades, he was ‘too ashamed’. It was only in the early 1990s that he first told the police of the abuse. Kristian reported Brother Franter and while the investigation was underway, Brother Franter died. The investigation then ceased and Kristian was not offered any further assistance.
Kristian saw an article in the local newspaper about child sexual abuse a couple of years later. This motivated him to contact the journalist to share his story and, in due course, to seek counselling and apply for compensation. He participated in a class action against the Christian Brothers and received $2,000. Kristian later received $10,000 more and a written apology from the Christian Brothers as well as receiving $45,000 from the Western Australian redress scheme.
Kristian is still angry that Brother Franter ‘got away’ with his abuse of young boys. Kristian regrets not speaking up when the abuse was happening and believes that if he did, some of the other boys wouldn’t have been abused. He came to the Royal Commission to get his story heard and to inspire other children who are being abused to speak up.
‘I want to help, I see some of the boys that [went there]. You see the way they suffer. Some of them are just vegetables and I want to make sure nothing happens to any other kids again, that they can go to somebody [and tell them].’