In the early 1970s, when Mick was 12 years old, he suffered a medical emergency and his mum rushed him to hospital. Mick’s mum then had to get back to their home in regional Victoria to look after the other kids, so she left Mick alone in the care of a young male staff member. Mick said:
‘All I remember is the guy pushing me down a long corridor, and I was still in pain … into a vacant room. I’m pretty sure there was a guy on his own in the bed and, I don’t know, I think he might have been a dead person actually.
‘And I was just down in this room, on me own, and he pulled the blind around and then, I remembered he just got me that – positioned meself so me backside was just sort of hanging and he’s like “I’ve just got to do an examination”.’
The man then raped Mick. The experience ‘seemed to go on forever and the pain was just unbelievable. And I must have passed out. Then the only other thing I remember after that is just anger and throwing chairs off the balcony of the hospital’.
After that, Mick decided not to discuss the incident with anyone – not even himself. Aided by alcohol, he succeeded in blocking the experience out of his mind. But he couldn’t stop it influencing his behaviour.
‘That was the tipping point for me to go on the wild side. Like, nobody come near me. I used to fight. I was never a bad drunk but if you got in my zone and you were hassling me it was all over, red rover.’
Mick left school early. He left his home town too. He got a job and worked hard. He’s worked hard all his life. He married and had a few kids. Then as he got older and stopped drinking so much the memories started coming back – not just memories of the hospital incident, but memories of sexual abuse he’d suffered at home when he was a four-year-old boy.
Eventually Mick had a nervous breakdown. He was ‘crippled, mentally’ and had to spend ‘three weeks in bed at a time’. During this low point he mentioned a few details of the abuse to his wife – just ‘bits and pieces’.
Mick said that his wife then took those bits and pieces and created her own story. Later, when the two of them divorced she used that story against him.
‘She got that vicious and just done some hideous things and used that with the children and it’s ongoing now still, through what she’s told my children. My two older children are just disgusted with me and I’m trying to deal with the fact that they think I’m a perpetrator.’
Mick said that his kids won’t even give him the chance to tell his story. He’s hoping that ‘down the track’ their attitudes might change. In the meantime, Mick has managed to open up about the abuse, speaking to a mate and to a therapist. His session with the therapist ‘linked a lot of loose ends so to speak and everything sort of – a lot of things made sense’.
Mick is now making plans to take legal action against the hospital while continuing to work on improving his mental and physical health.
‘I’ve got to deal with it, and hopefully I can get over it so I can enjoy the next 20 years of me life, which I want to do. I love me fishing, but I just can’t fish. I lie in bed.’