In the late 1950s, Marjory was a seven-year-old boarder at a Catholic girls’ school in Victoria. After the death of her father and her mother’s subsequent remarriage, Marjory’s stepfather ‘didn’t want us around’.
While she was at the school, Marjory was sexually abused by one of the nuns. As far as she knows, her sister wasn’t.
‘I don’t want to ask her. I’m too embarrassed. I’m too ashamed of what happened and I’m embarrassed and I don’t like to talk about it because it upsets me too much.’
At night, when it was bathing time, one of the nuns would ‘fondle’ Marjory under the pretence of checking to see if she’d showered properly.
‘And she would push soap into my vagina and I remember twice she made me lay down in the shower and she looked very closely at me, and I didn’t know why. I didn’t know why all this was happening to me ‘cause I was only young …
‘I didn’t like it, and I used to, when it was time to have a shower, I used to go to the shower and quickly wash myself and when she came in I’d say, “I’ve already washed myself” and she said, “No, I need to wash you. I need to make sure that you’re clean”, and she’d bend down and look at me.’
Marjory recalled that, at one time, the nun went on holidays and was replaced by someone else.
‘I ran to the showers when it was time to have a shower like I did every night to try and stop this, and because – I didn’t know that it was sexual abuse, I just didn’t like it – and the nun come along and I said, “I’ve already had a wash”, and she said, “Oh that’s okay, darling”. She said, “You dry yourself, hop out and put your pyjamas on”. And for how long she was away I don’t know, it never happened, but as soon as the other nun came back it started all over again and that’s when I realised that something’s not right. Why is she doing it and she’s not?’
Marjory said she ‘absolutely hated’ school.
‘I was so disruptive. I ripped up prayer books just so that they would send me home. I hated it. I smashed things, and I remember one day a girl had some false teeth and I took them and put them down the toilet. Flushed them down the toilet. I put the nun’s clothes on because I wanted to make fun of her.
‘When I think about it now I think, I don’t know where it even came from, but I did … I ripped up prayer books, I kicked the nuns. A nun would walk past and I would put my foot out. I wasn’t a very nice child when I was there.’
Marjory said she started wetting the bed while she was in the school, but this stopped when she eventually went back to live with her family.
She didn’t mention the abuse to anyone until the mid-2010s, when a friend said she was coming to speak to the Royal Commission. The friend said she also knew someone who’d been sexually abused by a nun. Up until then, Marjory hadn’t thought anyone else but her had had that experience, and she doubted she’d be believed if she told anyone.
She’d ‘blocked’ memories of the abuse, but ‘it was always there’.
‘Every time it came on the television and I used to think, oh, the poor people, you know. But it probably sounds really silly, but who would believe a nun would do that? A man yes, but not a nun, and please don’t take me the wrong way, a man, but a nun? I mean they tell you they’re married to God and they’re just all, I hate them and they’re all liars. Liars. All liars …
‘I hate them. I really do, I hate them. If I see a nun all I want to do is kick her and push her into the gutter. That’s how much I hate them.’
Marjory told the Commissioner that, because of the abuse, she doesn’t trust anybody.
‘Nobody. I don’t trust my husband, I don’t trust my children, don’t trust anybody. When my daughter was born I never trusted my husband. I knew he wouldn’t do anything, but it was always in the back of my mind … I love animals. I would trust an animal more than I would trust a human being. I’ve got dogs, cats, birds, lizards, frogs. They’re not going to do anything to me, are they?’
She came to the Commission because she didn’t want children ‘to go through what I went through’. She didn’t ever want counselling.
‘When I talk about it, it makes me worse. It makes me worse. I get too upset and I’d rather just forget about it and put it away and just move on with things and try and battle through things. I mean, I was fine until I got up this morning and realised I had to come here and it just brings everything up and I don’t need to talk about it all the time.
‘I want everything to stop. What my ideal, and I know it’s never going to happen, my ideal – I would like the Catholic Church to be totally closed down. That’s what I would like – totally closed down. And every priest and nun sent to Hell. They’re all going to Hell anyway. They must be so, so worried those people, so, so worried. They told me I was going to Hell. They told me I was going to Hell if I didn’t go to church. They’re horrible people. They tell lies and you know, it’s dreadful.’