‘I couldn’t hurt my mum’, Micky told the Commissioner. Micky’s mum was a devout Catholic. To protect her, Micky kept the abuse he experienced as a boy in the 1960s a secret. It was only after her death that he felt able to reveal it. He finally told his wife of 35 years – ‘She always knew something was not quite right’ - and he decided to come to the Royal Commission.
‘My mother’s passing just took the cloud about making a decision to do something away. It was just removed.’
Micky grew up in an outer suburb of Melbourne, one of a big family. The kids went to the local Catholic primary school and then the Catholic high school. The family attended the local church. Micky was an altar boy and a member of the church youth group that was overseen by one of the priests, Father Onslow.
In his early high school years, Micky went on a youth group camp, supervised by Father Onslow. During the night, Father Onslow sexually assaulted him. He masturbated and digitally penetrated Micky while he was in bed. Micky was unable to protest or escape – he felt paralysed, he told the Commissioner.
This episode had long-lasting impacts on Micky. He didn’t speak of it at the time due to a deep sense of shame. He stopped going to church, except for weddings, funerals and christenings. His performance at school deteriorated - and it still distresses him that none of his teachers tried to find out why.
‘That question was never asked: “You used to be so good, why are you so bad?” They just ripped me apart. I never even wanted to go back to that high school again. I’ve never met a young boy come up with that sort of thoughts – just “I’m not going back”.’
There were also changes in his behaviour. He became aggressive, and violent. ‘I’m not very proud of that.’
Micky left school early and found work with tradesmen. It was easy to find work if you were fit and healthy, he said. ‘It was just give me a shovel and off you go.’ He went on to have a successful career, including a posting overseas which was a highlight both in his professional and family life.
Though his marriage has been long and sustaining, he has found it hard over the years to form other relationships. ‘I’ve got a limited number of friends – well, almost no friends. I’ve been described as a lone wolf – all these crazy words … I’m happy with my own company.’
He also drank too much, though he is now able to manage his alcohol consumption. ‘I’m quite ashamed to say it, I tell my kids openly - if I behaved like I used to now, go forward in the time capsule and I’d be in jail.’
When Micky was young his father was diagnosed with a disease that after many years of illness eventually took his life. Micky learned from his father’s determination and the motto he lived by – ‘just do your best’.
‘That’s what got me through’, he said.
Father Onslow was later moved to Queensland where he worked in a series of different parishes. In the mid-1990s he committed suicide, after being confronted with allegations of child sex abuse. Micky believes the Church was fully aware of his behaviour. He is now pursuing a claim for compensation against the Church. He hopes it will bring him some closure. He doesn’t feel that at the moment.
‘I react, I react too quickly. What you gentleman would see in a measured way – “Micky’s been upset, but that’s life, that’s business” - I take it personally. I take things too personally.’