Norman Edgar's story

Norman grew up in Victoria in the 1960s, in a large Catholic family. His uncle ‘was almost like a henchman for the Catholic Church … Looking back on it as an adult, I think my parents were scared of him. I’ve hated my parents for most of my life because of what happened. They are not on my Christmas card list’.

Norman told the Commissioner, ‘My dad was a fucking scary guy. He really was – but my uncle was scarier … “Don’t make him lose his temper”. Dad was more sort of controlling and very methodical; he knew how to make you feel like dirt, and then the punishment would come’.

Norman felt very lonely as a child.

‘I’d never hugged anyone till I left home. We never hugged. Even though you’re in a big family, I felt so isolated as a kid. Everyone else in the family did too.’

Norman was sexually abused by his uncle and a group of priests, from the age of four. ‘Me uncle fooled around with me first. I can’t remember how old I was with Father Simon, but I remember he had me on my knees, praying … and he turned around and had his penis out. And that’s when I learned how to do that.’

Norman told the Commissioner, ‘They got money … handing me over type of thing. When I got a bit older – eight or nine, I think – they started giving me money. Me uncle, he got paid to arrange it – and I think Father Simon got paid to arrange it too.’

Norman would receive ‘a pound or two … It was when I got injured and shit. Sometimes, there was a guy … he could get very violent. I thought I was going to die a couple of times, he’d lose control. There were times when I thought I was going to split in two. And that’s got to do some damage’.

When Norman told his mother that he was bleeding ‘out of me bum’, she said, ‘“It happens to girls. Don’t worry about it” … Bit different. That’s what I learnt later in life but … you know’.

When Norman was old enough to start objecting to the abuse, he was plied with alcohol. ‘Mainly wine and beer. It might have been whiskey too … I was so young, I can’t remember. I just about passed out some of the times, and then I’d wake up and someone was on top of me.’

Norman was threatened that if he told, ‘“You’ll go to hell and your parents will go to hell and brothers and sisters …” I just couldn’t … I thought it was the way all adults acted when I was a kid.

'The first time I tried to take me life I was about 11. I was just standing on the edge of the road and I was going to walk in front of a car. I stood there for about half an hour, and then I just turned around and went home. I just couldn’t see a way out.'

The abuse came to an end when Norman was about 14. ‘I think I got too old. My uncle kept shaving me pubes. And I started to fight back. I’d run away more … I got very good at getting away from them, and hiding and shit like that. It’s easy to hide in the suburbs if you don’t want to be found.’

When Norman saw the bishop who was to officiate at his confirmation, he said, ‘This is not a confession. I need to talk to you about something – and I told him what these priests were doing. And he just said, “There’s some things God does not want you to talk about. How dare you. Go away. Say 10 Hail Marys and three Our Fathers”. That was the last time I trusted authority’.

Norman was a binge drinker by the time he was 18. ‘I was going into a very dark place and I battled that. I actually turned my life around for a while. I stopped drinking so much … I held down a job … and in my late 30s, I was robbed at knifepoint, and the guy flopped his dick out, and it just all came crashing down and I haven’t worked since.’

The abuse Norman experienced has had a huge impact on his adult life. ‘Relationships, my work history, you name it … social life, what hasn’t it affected? I just don’t feel strong. Totally feel like I’m always on the edge of I don’t know what … I’m a danger to meself. I’m not a danger to anyone else.’

Norman would like to see more sex education in schools, with children in Grade 1 being taught that ‘if a guy flops out his dick, that’s wrong … When it’s not talked about … I didn’t even know what it was. Just thought adults acted like that’.

Norman told the Commissioner, ‘I’ve had a shit life, I know that. But I’ve seen some beautiful stuff too. And I really feel, and it’s taken me a long time to realise this, but I really feel I’ve beaten them already because I didn’t end up the way they wanted me to … I’m considered a nice bloke. Crazy, but nice’.

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