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Miles Thomas's story

‘Because of these incidents that occurred to me in this time I’ve always found it hard to fit into normality.’

Miles grew up in western Sydney and in the 1970s attended his local state primary school. He was a good student and excelled at sport, but because of this felt like ‘the black sheep of his family’ and believed his parents favoured his siblings ‘to try and even things up’.

He was around eight years old when his regular teacher became ill and a substitute teacher filled in for a couple of weeks. This man was in ‘in his 50s or 60s’, with a big nose and a brown suit.

This teacher would put his hands down Miles’s pants every day when he stood next to him at the desk, and also molested him in the storeroom.

One of the other students witnessed this abuse and asked Miles why he allowed the teacher to do these things to him. He didn’t have an answer.

‘Looking back now I thought I was actually special ... I thought I was actually lucky, I was the one in the class who was being treated special and that sort of thing. That’s how I actually felt.’

Now he believes other children in his class were very likely abused too.

At the time Miles did not tell anyone what was happening to him, but in recent years has disclosed to his mother and wife. He still has vivid memories of the abuse 40 years after it happened, and feels embarrassed by it.

‘It’s just like yesterday, and it never ever leaves your mind for some reason ... I’ve said to myself “I wish I could just put it in the background and just forget about it and move on with life”, but some people can’t, find it difficult to do that, and I’m one of those people.’

He has difficulties with trust, struggles with anger and aggression, and doesn’t have any friends. Although he and his wife are still together, he thinks this is only for the sake of the children, and she is not very supportive.

Miles is immensely proud of his children, and is a very protective father, but is aware of how the abuse he experienced has now impacted on his family. His hypervigilance as a parent affects his ability to maintain employment. ‘Just ‘cause of my mindset, can’t really hold down jobs or anything ‘cause I feel like I’ve got to be close to the school in case I get a phone call, in case something has happened to them.’

At the moment Miles is going through a difficult time financially due to increasing housing costs. ‘I can’t hold down jobs et cetera, you know, and it’s very demoralising. Because I can’t do that, it’s not fair to the kids.’

Miles was seeing a psychologist for a while last year through his network employment agency, and found this useful. They were working towards Miles making a report to police when she left suddenly, and he is now waiting for an appointment with a new therapist.

He strongly believes that the behaviour of the substitute teacher was so brazen that he must have abused many other children, and so there will be plenty of evidence to support his account when he does make a police statement.

Miles considers it unfair that other people he knows are doing well when he cannot provide a stable family home due to his ongoing mental health issues. ‘I always just sit and ponder, how in the hell did I get to this situation, you know?’

He would like a government funded scheme to offer financial support to people who have experienced similar difficulties to enable them to go on and have meaningful and stable lives. ‘I just feel robbed because I haven’t been able to live the life that I wanted to live.’

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