As a young child in the early 1970s, Merrick lived with his family in regional Victoria. One day he got into a car with a stranger, and soon afterwards he was visited by police, one of whom returned later, took him in the police van and sexually abused him.
For years throughout his childhood, Merrick was sexually abused by many people. A friend of his father’s came to the house and took him to a Masonic Lodge where others took photos of him being abused. ‘I think they were a sub-group within the Lodge.’
In a written submission and his private session with the Royal Commission, Merrick said he didn’t know if his father was aware of what happened.
‘He was friends with men from the Lodge. He also thought children should be seen and not heard. I felt I couldn’t say anything and that what was going on was just life, until I got older and I realised.’
Merrick detailed a number of people who were responsible for sexually abusing him.
They included a council worker as well as his government primary school principal who, with his wife, ‘would take me to their house’. Merrick’s homeroom teacher also abused him, as did a Catholic priest who often visited the area.
He recalled telling his grandmother the priest was ‘hurting my bum’, and thought she went to her Uniting Church pastor for advice. Merrick believed the pastor then ‘reported this to the Catholic Church and the response was for [the priest] to be moved to another parish’. Merrick didn’t know of any other action taken.
When he was about 14, Merrick was hospitalised in South Australia for migraines. He described an incident which occurred while he was there in which two men pretending to be hospital staff came into the ward and sexually assaulted him. Merrick told a nurse what happened and she was then physically assaulted by the two men.
Merrick said his experience of reporting sexual abuse as a child ‘was to receive further abuse’.
‘There have not been any criminal proceedings about any of the abuse and I have never sought compensation. In my teenage years I spoke to a senior sergeant in the rape squad and she seemed to take it seriously, but no statement was made. In my teenage years I tried to numb everything and take the pain away by smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol. In my early 20s I developed schizophrenia. I ceased smoking cannabis in my early 30s.’
He didn’t know what would be of help to him now but he wanted his primary school teacher ‘to go to jail’.
‘I think that I should have been believed, protected and someone should have taken notice and stopped the abuse’, he said. ‘I received no help at the time and have subsequently seen a psychologist and the rape clinic.’ He’d recently been receiving support from a New South Wales mental health service.
‘I can’t trust anyone. I don’t know where to go. I’ve lost every chance of ever working. They’ve put me on the pension. I’ll be on the pension the rest of me life.’