Religion was important to Malcolm’s family, and the clergy were held in high esteem, so there was no badmouthing the Virgin Mary or Jesus.
Malcolm was born in the 1950s, and attended a primary school run by the Sisters of St Joseph. They were hard people, he said, ‘but you thought they were very kind when you met the Jesuits.’
When Malcolm was 12, he moved from the country to the big smoke in Sydney to board at a high-status Jesuit school which he described as ‘a mix of would-be’s and could-be’s and money’. In so doing, he was graduating from the bamboo canes of the nuns to the razor straps of the Jesuits.
In his first year at the school, Malcolm was sexually abused by one of the priests, Father Judd.
‘I think Father Judd picked out that I was lonely, very distraught and very homesick … It was a weakness, and unfortunately I showed it.’
Judd would strap Malcolm on his bare bottom with a ‘razor strap’ and then fondle his genitals and bottom. The abuse later included anal sex which Judd declared was done ‘in God’s name’.
Malcolm was sexually abused three times by Judd. However, when the priest attempted a fourth assault, Malcolm said ‘I have the greatest respect for you Father, but one of us is gonna be down on the floor bleeding profusely if you try that again’.
‘And that’s when he said he’d turn my life into misery.’
Malcolm was then singled out for every chore. He had privileges revoked, and was beaten very badly - although this was already a regular occurrence.
‘I got many a wolf whistle in the showers ‘cause you ended up with stripes across you that were black, blue and slightly yellow from being flogged. And if they got you in the right place you could actually have the stitch marks of the belt embedded in your skin.’
He never cried in front of the priests when he was being walloped. The one time he did break down in tears, a different priest gave him a long cuddle. Malcolm hadn’t experienced that before.
Being such a target for emotional and physical punishment turned Malcolm into a rebel. He ran various scams at the school, such as selling cigarettes to the other boys.
Not long after Judd first abused him, Malcolm told his parents when he went back home for the holidays. His father didn’t want to know about it, and told Malcolm to talk to his mother.
Malcolm did tell his mother, but she was shocked and didn’t believe him. Her ‘words were “A man of the cloth wouldn’t do such a thing and you’re telling stories”’. Being disbelieved by his mother hurt Malcolm greatly. Even now he can’t forgive her.
After he left school, Malcolm worked in different jobs over the years. He married several times, but now keeps to himself mostly. ‘I trust very few people … I have trouble getting across that line.’
In the 1990s, Malcolm’s doctor put him on a heavy dose of anti-depressants which he took them for a couple of years. He still hadn’t disclosed the abuse, but his GP said he displayed all the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Malcolm agreed. A recent anxiety attack led to him finally seeing a psychiatrist, who specialises in sexual abuse.
‘This sexual abuse comes back to haunt you. It’s not like a broken arm. You can’t just fix it … You can be very busy over a period of years … And then one night it’ll come back to haunt you. And you just can’t shake it … And it drives you to the brink.’
Malcolm said that, at the time, the thing that would have helped him most was ‘having a mother who believed you would be number one ... It caused me a lot of pain. It caused me a lot of anguish.’
Malcolm has started a civil claim against the Jesuits, something he describes as a gut-wrenching exercise. ‘It’s not about the money … Whether I get two bob or two hundred thousand, I just want them to know that they haven’t got away scot free.’
Malcolm believes that the Jesuits have taken steps in the right direction recently in terms of redress. ‘The Jesuits were the first to come out and say they weren’t going to run away and they would pay. They were the gutsy ones … Everyone else has ducked and weaved and bobbed.’
Some of the Jesuit priests at his school were ‘bloody good blokes … Really top notch people … Someone that’s showing you how to get on with life. Not someone that’s destroying you.’