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Lawrence William's story

In the early 1970s, Lawrence spent a few years in a Marist Brothers boys’ home in Sydney. He was sent there in his early teens to ‘alleviate’ the situation at home and ‘so there was a bit more room for the family members’ as they awaited public housing.

In the boys’ home, Brother Connell was one of the dormitory masters and Lawrence put his age at ‘50 to 60’. Over a period of three or four months Connell would go to Lawrence’s bed at night and sexually abuse him. ‘He’d touch me or get me to touch him.’

This happened two or three times a week and there was one other boy Lawrence saw Connell ‘go towards’.

The abuse stopped when Lawrence moved into another dormitory. He didn’t tell his mother or other staff what Connell had done.

‘I don’t know if I was scared or I didn't think they’d believe me, and it wasn’t something I just wanted to tell anyone.’

For the few years he was a student at the adjoining Marist Brothers school, Lawrence did well academically, often under the threat of physical punishment.

‘The one good thing about Marist Brothers, they made you learn. Oh yeah, it was like military precision – homework and drilled stuff into you, and corporal punishment was rampant. You would not believe – cane, strap, just physical abuse. All for minor things, like if your shoes weren’t polished, you got the cane. For the standards. They used to have morning assemblies and they’d inspect you like an army unit.’

When the family was finally allocated public housing, Lawrence moved back home and started going to a public high school. ‘Because you had so much freedom and you weren’t forced to do your homework and all that, the grades went downhill.’

He’d had many jobs after leaving school, and often left them after short periods. ‘I get bored easily’, he said. At the time of speaking to the Royal Commission he was doing casual work in the entertainment industry but had no job security.

In the mid-2010s, Lawrence received $50,000 through Towards Healing and this money ‘tide me over’, he said. In preceding years, he’d got behind in his rent and had accrued significant debts.

His focus lately had been on an impending court case that related to the debts he’d accrued.

‘I don’t know if [the abuse] has affected my life into that regard, and it wasn’t as if I did it to obtain any benefit, or when I say benefit, I didn’t spend it on pokies, buy houses or do whatever. It was just to survive.’

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