Martin wonders what he may have achieved in life if he wasn’t tormented by the physical and emotional scars left by a sexual assault he suffered at the age of 12.
‘I was in the schoolyard with a couple of other boys, and we walked past Brother Roy, of the Vincentian Order, who was the grounds-keeper at the Catholic high school. We were supposed to be in class so he called us over and I made a bit of a comment which didn’t go down too well with him so he threw coolant all over me. Then he told the other boys to get going to where they should be, but sent me to wait in the arts room.’
Within moments, the Brother appeared carrying a towel and handed it to Martin, telling him to clean off the coolant.
‘When I’d finished drying myself, he put me in a headlock while he took off my pants. Then held me down, raped me and cleaned me up with the towel afterwards. I was in a lot of pain for days after and bled a lot anally, but I couldn’t see a doctor because I knew if I told anyone they wouldn’t believe me, that’s how it was in the early 1960s. I’ve had ongoing issues with my bowel ever since.’
Martin counts himself lucky for meeting his wife of 40 years, Mary.
‘I was fortunate to meet a nice girl and marry her because she and our two boys have kept me going, and my wife has put up with my mood swings over the years. It really hit me when the boys grew up and moved out of home, that’s when the nasties crept in, which were the memories of abuse I’d managed to suppress for over 30 years.’
Martin told the Commissioner that a news report he watched about two priests accused of sexually abusing young children triggered him to take action against his abuser.
‘I’ve never slept well, I have terrible nightmares, and there’ve been times when I’ve been too mentally unwell to work. Brother Roy completely destroyed my life. I mean, I was shit because of him, I’ve really suffered badly so I wanted him to be punished in some way.’
Brother Roy was charged by police for the abuse of Martin and another former student at the school, and ultimately sentenced to seven years in jail, with a non-parole period of three years.
‘I had to sit and listen to a judge tell the courtroom all the wonderful things he does when he’s not molesting children. It’s impossible for me to calculate how much I’ve lost and will continue to lose emotionally and financially, and that sentence is all he got for what he’s done to me.’
Martin also expressed disappointment over the lack of support services set up to help those in his situation, and is hopeful the system will be improved to better help victims of abuse.
‘That school’s responsible for a lot of suicides and has really led to deaths through other means. I always feel very guilty about a friend because we confided in each other about our abusive pasts, but he’d gotten into drugs and drinking. A few years ago he died of blood poisoning and he was only 40-something. He never made a life for himself and now it’s too late for him, but maybe others can be saved.’