Growing up in a regional town Micky ‘wasn’t the most popular person by a long way’ and ‘suffered from bullying quite a bit at school, even had my nose broken while I was still in primary school’. He was sent to board at a Protestant college in the 1970s for his high school education.
Finding a sport he loved, Micky would train with some of the other students every day. When he was 15 one of the teachers, Trevor Thomas, became his coach. Soon Thomas began grooming him, paying him special attention and becoming his gym partner.
Thomas invited Micky to his house for the weekend, with the permission of the school. Keen to get off campus, Micky readily agreed.
‘Being a boarder you grab every opportunity you can. There’s nothing worse than staying in the boarding house all weekend with nothing to do. I felt comfortable – I knew this person as a coach and as a teacher, and didn’t feel threatened in any way.’
On the way to Thomas’s place they stopped to see a movie. At the house they ate dinner, then watched television on the couch. At this point the teacher began to sexually abuse him.
‘It started off with him having me sit on his knee. I think there was some kissing involved, and some fondling. And then there was oral sex, both ways.’
Thomas then took Micky into a bedroom.
‘And he went to bed with me. And he penetrated me. After he’d finished he said “It’s best if you now go to the toilet and try to do something, even if you can’t”. And then he went to bed.
‘Next morning he was very cold towards me, very indifferent. He said I wasn’t to bother him, as he had marking to do. I think it was just after lunch he put me on a bus and sent me back to the school.’
Some time later Thomas approached Micky again and tried to instigate a sexual relationship. Micky refused the advances, and Thomas began to verbally and emotionally abuse him during lessons. Other students teased and harassed Micky about having gone to Thomas’s house.
Micky told his parents about the abuse at the end of the year, and they all met with the headmaster. During this meeting ‘I recounted the incident ... told him all the details’. The headmaster asked Micky to make a police report.
‘Which I couldn’t do. I was so scared, I’d had enough of the bullying. I was so scared that it would just become ten times worse. And I told him, no, I couldn’t. And I told him why. I now look back and I regret that decision. I wish I’d had the strength to speak up then ... It was a completely different time, completely different community. I just felt that I couldn’t take the ramifications of what I thought could happen.’
By the next year Thomas had been moved to another school. However, after Micky left the college, Thomas was allowed to return, staying there for several decades.
‘Which upsets me quite a bit, and tells me why I should have spoken up. I should have spoken up to protect the other boys who were still at that school. I’ve let them down.’
After ‘it all died down’, the incident ‘was never spoken of again. Never spoken of between myself and my parents, and never spoken of at school ... There was no support, no counselling, nothing’.
Micky has struggled with depression throughout his life. He began counselling a while ago, and finds this helpful.
‘Talking with a psychologist I’ve identified and realised that there are quite a few things that have made me depressed – and that [the abuse] is one of the key things. And I just got sick and tired of bottling it up and keeping it a secret, and I needed somebody to talk with ...
‘I’ve grappled with this particular issue for a long, long time.’