Lloyd's story

‘Brother Watts could be very threatening, and over time I became very afraid of him. He said if I told anyone, “Things will get very bad for you”. Things were already pretty bad for me.’

In fact, ‘pretty bad’ was a gross understatement. Shipped from England to Western Australia in the 1950s when he was just seven, Lloyd spent his childhood in Christian Brothers’ orphanages where he suffered brutal physical and sexual abuse.

In a written statement, he described the first orphanage as a ‘loveless place for a little boy, and the only attention I got was unwanted’. Much of that attention came from Jim Manning. Manning was friends with one of the Brothers and used that connection to take boys on trips in his car. He would then strip them naked and photograph them. Manning took Lloyd on a few of these trips and sexually assaulted him.

But Manning’s behaviour was only a shadow of what Lloyd had to face when he moved to the next orphanage. There he encountered Brother Watts.

‘Brother Watts was my childhood tormentor, above all others. In my whole life, I’ve never felt comfortable touching anyone after what he did to me. We were starved and deprived so when he offered me sweets to come to his room, I went even though I was worried.’

Lloyd said that the sexual assaults from Watts made him a target for ‘other predators’, including older boys. On top of this he had to endure regular physical assaults dished out by several of the Brothers.

‘I was savagely beaten many times by Brother Heaney. He was a tall and powerful man, very stern and frightening, who would stare into your eyes before he beat you up. He used a long, heavy thick cane, like a walking stick, to belt you, not only on your backside but across your back and legs, wherever he could get you.’

With all this going on, Lloyd was perpetually afraid, could never focus on his schoolwork and so never received a decent education. Nor did he receive proper medical attention when he needed it. For years he suffered from painful boils and dental problems, and by the time he was 20, he had to have most of his teeth removed.

The Brothers also forced Lloyd to do long hours of hard, manual labour with no food in his belly. Most of the food served at the orphanage was inedible, sometimes so disgusting it caused Lloyd to vomit. On these occasions the Brothers would force him to eat his own vomit.

Then there were the indirect abuses that the Brothers inflicted on the boys through the general atmosphere of brutality that they created at the home. In his statement, Lloyd recounted how the Brothers would pay the boys a few pennies for the tail of each stray cat they killed. A culture quickly developed where the boys would hunt and kill the animals cruelly.

‘Some were roasted alive over fires. The boys would pour petrol over them, set them alight and then have competitions to see which cat ran across a line drawn in the dirt. The Brothers knew about all this and encouraged it. I remember being horrified but, horribly, it became the norm and we were gradually turned into little monsters like the Brothers themselves.

'I feel so ashamed and upset when I think about it now; it's one of many things that stays right in the front of my mind.’

Lloyd left the home at 16 but has never escaped the legacy of the abuse. He described experiencing nightmares, anxiety, panic attacks and loneliness.

‘I’ve never had a relationship with anyone, man or woman, because I could never bear to be touched … I get suddenly very angry and nobody understands what’s going on; I hardly do myself.’

'My whole life I’ve felt like a nobody. You shouldn’t compare yourself with others but more than ever now, I wish I had a family as I grow older. I lost contact with both my brothers and didn’t find them until the last 15 years. That’s great now – but I missed out on my nieces growing up and basically have spent my life on my own.’

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