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Lincoln John's story

‘Until today no one’s ever really listened to me.’

Lincoln was raised in the 1970s and 1980s within a Catholic family where intergenerational physical, emotional and sexual abuse were the norm. Lincoln was sexually abused by his father with the knowledge of his mother, who was abusive in other ways.

‘I believe [it] led to me being singled out at school’, Lincoln told the Commissioner. ‘I was an emotional wreck. I had no one to talk to. I had no friends. I couldn’t relate to people. And then when I finally got to late primary school … I was aware that my Year 6 teacher was a paedophile but, at the same time, I needed to talk to someone … No one else was willing to listen … Well, I guess he “groomed” me, would be the term, in so far as you can groom someone that’s already abused … He developed a friendship with me and, you know, that was it.’

Lincoln’s institutional abuse started before that, at a local pre-school. ‘There was a man there … To the best of my recollection he didn’t work there. He was a friend or partner or something, of one of the ladies that worked there. He used to like getting naked with the kids … having them … crawl around and touch him and so on … I complained to Mum but, of course … I was getting the same thing at home.’

Lincoln recalls his parents didn’t care. He does note, however, that his younger siblings were sent to a different pre-school, but he doesn’t know why.

Later, in his final year at the Catholic-run primary school, Lincoln was sexually abused by Robert Jones, the lay teacher who had groomed him. It happened in the classroom, during school hours, when they were alone. And, because of comments made by some of the other boys, Lincoln suspects it was generally known what Jones was doing.

Lincoln reported the abuse to the principal, Brother Walsh, who brought him and the lay teacher into his office. ‘I remember him saying “You’re disgusting” to Robert Jones … I was told that he would be sacked, or wouldn’t have a job the following year because the prep school was closing down … and then if I could wait till the end of the year everything would get much better.’

However, Jones was offered a job in the high school and was one of Lincoln’s teachers for another two years. Looking back, Lincoln believes that what Walsh said was all ‘a big charade. As years went on it became clearer to me that the school knew exactly what was happening, with Robert Jones and other teachers. To suggest that Robert Jones was the only known abuser at [the school] is to be extremely naive’. However, Jones didn’t abuse Lincoln when he was in high school.

At around 12 years of age, when he realised Jones was going to be his high school teacher, Lincoln went to the local police station. The first time he was told to go away. The second time he ‘dragged’ a younger sibling, who had also been abused by their father, along with him. Lincoln believes he reported both the familial abuse as well as Robert Jones. However, no one was charged.

The high school principal, Brother Daniel Cahill, who was a ‘renowned predator’, used to summon Lincoln to his office. Cahill would physically threaten Lincoln and ask for names of other boys who Lincoln thought would be susceptible to being abused. Lincoln used to give the names of bullies, until Cahill realised he wasn’t getting anywhere and gave up on him.

‘There must have been a procession of boys going into his office during the day because I remember the two … secretaries … And I remember one time, one of them made a comment, “Oh, not another one! How many of them are you going to hurt?” she said to him.’

Lincoln dreaded going to school. He was stressed, depressed and bullied - singled out because he had no friends. He finished high school but his grades dropped significantly. Before the sexual abuse he was an above-average student who loved to learn.

To his knowledge, the police never did anything about any of the abuse. ‘Not because I didn’t try. As far as I know, they were aware of what was going on [at home]. They were aware of what happened at … the school I went to … but nothing …’

Lincoln has successfully run his own business for many years. He self-medicates using cannabis. Although he barely drinks now, he was a ‘borderline alcoholic’ by his late teens. He has tried to talk about the familial abuse with some of his siblings but they are not open to it. His girlfriend, with whom he has a long-term relationship, doesn’t know everything that’s happened to him. He hasn’t sought counselling but is currently reviewing his legal options.

‘I don’t want to let the bastards win. Simple as that. It’s the only reason I get out of bed in the mornings, is that the hope that one day someone will listen, and act upon what I’ve said … I made a conscious decision, back when I was a teenager, that if anyone ever was going to listen to me, I couldn’t end up a drug addict, unemployed … because no one would take me seriously. I mean, as it is … I haven’t really been taken seriously, anyway but … that’s the only reason really, I’ve kept it together for as long as I have. I mean, what would happen after that? I don’t know. Maybe a great weight will be lifted off my shoulders and I might enjoy my life. Or I might just go downhill. I really don’t know.’

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