Marcus was born just after the end of World War II. His early childhood was unstable due to his father’s work with the army and his mother’s severe mental illness. He was five years old when he was placed into a Red Cross home, followed by an Anglican home in regional New South Wales. Then, in the early 1950s, when Marcus was seven years old, he was transferred to a second Anglican home. He spent six years at this home.
From the age of eight or nine years, Marcus was sexually abused by three different clergy who were attached to both the home and the local Anglican Church which the boys had to attend.
‘The atrocities took place sexually. It was [in the] rectory, that’s where they hung up all the cloaks … also up in where you sat in the choir [in the church] … We had to be [in the choir] - we had no choice.’
He was abused by the reverend, and two other 'Brothers', ‘church deacons and things like that … elders of the church’.
‘The ones that did show an interest in us, for whatever reason, we were to call them Brother This and Brother That [even if they were laymen].’
Marcus tried to tell his father about the abuse but his father didn’t believe him.
‘He’d change the subject and say, “Take your mind off it” or “It didn’t happen, Marcus” … Though I think he did mention it to the warden there, because … as soon as he [his father] turned his back, attitudes towards me changed.’
Marcus’s father struggled at times to pay the fees of the home and when his father couldn’t afford the fees, Marcus received physical and psychological abuse from the staff in the home.
‘They didn’t mind being critical of my father or of me, for that matter … When things didn’t turn up, say money was a bit short … I felt then that that’s when some of the treatment that I got started … The files indicate that they didn’t hesitate to put you down … There was no sympathy.’
Marcus ran away from the home.
‘Because … I was starting to rebel. As I got closer to my teens I ran away twice. The first time I ran away – really severely beaten for that … The second time, I copped … “Why did you do it Marcus, what’s troubling you?”’
He believes that he wasn’t beaten the second time because they were worried he might report the sexual abuse.
‘I was waiting for a hell of a hiding but it never happened … By this time, as I’m getting older, I’m starting to tell my dad things. I wasn’t believed of course … but I never got a hiding the second time.’
Marcus believes that the matron who ran the home knew about the sexual abuse too.
‘I’ve got no doubt … she must have known.’
He was also sexually abused by an older and much bigger boy who was a resident in the home and by the son of a family he went to on weekend leave.
‘[I was] getting a bit older [then] and I thumped him and tell him to keep his hands off me or I’d tell on him. And he did … They tried it on you all the time.’
Marcus, who had a long career as a sailor, never disclosed his abuse to anyone until he was in his late sixties.
‘I carried it inside myself all my life … hid a lot of my emotions, pretended I’m tough and all that sort of shit. I never mentioned it in the [decades] of going to sea to anybody. Going to sea was like going into another institution … they paid you, they fed you … never ever was I sexually assaulted, never going to sea. I was protected and I’ve got an idea … that when you talk to people … that they [other sailors] were runaways as well … It was an escape.’
He married and had children but the family experienced many tragedies that Marcus found difficult to manage.
‘I had no guidance really. My father didn’t have a clue. My mother [was] non compos mentis … and so really … I had a life of failure … going to sea protected me … I had somewhere to run back to … probably more so than people who ended up on the street.’
He has been with his partner, a teenage sweetheart, for many years now and she was ‘the inspiration for me to come forward because she knew about me in the home when I was at school … probably knew more than I did’.
He has an enduring distrust of the police and organised religion and wants to pursue compensation from the Anglican Church.
‘The way they managed it, they should be made to cough up something … To admit, at least admit, that that’s how they controlled – it was mind control, it was done with a whip in one hand and a Bible in the other … It destroys you.’
Marcus joined CLAN, an organisation that supports people who grew up in out of home care, and found the strength to come to the Royal Commission through talking to others who have had similar experiences to him.
‘I’d never met any kids like this, who’d grown up out of homes [like me] … That put it together for me … I thought … “I’m going to come forward and be part of the many”.’