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Markus's story

Markus was born into a strict Catholic family in the mid-1950s. When he was about nine the family moved to a town in rural Victoria and two years later Markus was asked to serve as an altar boy at the local Catholic church.

His first job was to assist a visiting priest with mass. Afterwards, Markus and another boy stayed back to help clean up the church. It was then that the visiting priest raped them both. When he got home, Markus told his parents what the priest had done.

In a written statement supplied to the Royal Commission, Markus wrote, ‘I told my parents what had happened but they did not believe me. I later told one of the nicer nuns that I trusted at my school about the rape and as a consequence I was called to the office of Sister Flaherty. Sister Flaherty accused me of lying and whipped my upper legs and buttocks with a cane as punishment for lying’.

Markus tried to conceal the wounds on his legs but when he got home from school his parents noticed them and punished him for getting in trouble at school. After that, Markus felt ‘hurt and alone’ and concluded that there was no point telling anyone about the abuse.

He continued to serve as an altar boy and was sexually abused by the priest four or five more times. Eventually he refused to go back to the church and so his parents shifted him to a new church and the abuse came to an end.

Markus said that the abuse destroyed his ability to focus and robbed him of the chance of a good education. During his adolescence he was confused about his sexual identity and throughout his life he has suffered from intrusive thoughts, nightmares and flashbacks.

‘I have always had problems with insomnia, difficulty concentrating, rapid mood swings and constantly feeling on edge and angry. I have planned to kill myself on four separate occasions, once getting to the point of sitting on the edge of a cliff getting ready to jump. I didn't, because of my family. I would often just sit and cry.’

It was only after more than 40 years of marriage that Markus finally managed to tell his wife what had happened to him. He later went on to tell his children but has not told any other family members, as he is worried about the divisions it might cause.

Markus has been undergoing counselling for some time, and has found this very helpful. ‘Even up to this very day I still go weekly to my psychologist. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here. She’s been a great support. And my wife, she’s been a better support than anything else. Without the two of them, I can guarantee it, I wouldn’t be here.’

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