Shortly after World War II, Pat’s dad took a job that sent him travelling around the country. When Pat was about 14 the family wound up at a small town in South Australia. He attended the local public school where he met a teacher named Terry Heywood.
Soon Heywood began sexually abusing Pat. Then Heywood’s wife began sexually abusing Pat too. ‘I know I had sex with her at that time’, Pat said, ‘but I didn’t know what was going on. It was all naked. Running around naked and that sort of stuff with the husband, at the beach mainly, at a beach there. It was just not right. But I went back four or five times because I thought it was good, I suppose. That’s what it was’.
Sometimes Heywood and his wife would include two young girls in their sessions with Pat. Pat knew the girls from school. He discussed the abuse with them only ‘very briefly … whether we were embarrassed or what I don’t know. They just went with it too, I’m sure’. Pat believes that the Heywoods also abused other children, and that other teachers were sometimes involved.
Pat escaped the abuse after one of the young girls reported the Heywoods to her parents. ‘And’, Pat said, ‘I thought I had to do the same thing’. He told his dad.
‘I don’t really know what happened after that. I know the headmaster had a talk to me and I got the cuts. Whether it was for that I don’t know. And my dad had a word to the priest up there … And I know the police came to see Dad. That’s all I know. What that was about I don’t know but I know I just had to keep me mouth shut after that.’
A short while later Pat’s dad announced that it was time for the family to move on, and they left town the next day. As far as Pat knows, the police never charged Heywood and he continued to work at the school.
Pat led a reasonably stable life for the next 50 years. He had some trouble forming intimate relationships and his tendency to ‘give into people no matter what’ often led to trouble, but he had enough mental stability to build a long and successful career while raising a child.
Recently, however, Pat’s health, both mentally and physically, has begun to deteriorate. ‘It’s been a really heavy 12, 15 months medical-wise. I’ve had lots of operations and all this sort of stuff … It’s really taking its toll, I think, on me. And to enjoy life – it’s really hard at the moment to enjoy life and I just know, since I knew I was coming down here today, last two days have been really shit. Just distressed by it all.’
Media coverage of child sex abuse cases has made a tough situation even tougher. ‘See it every day in the paper, on the TV, and it just shits me off. Politely, it does. And when you’re in a group of people and they start talking about priests and whatever really, I’ve just got to bite my teeth and wear it or go to the toilet and not come back.’
Still, Pat was determined to come forward and tell his story. This came partly from a need to tick another thing off his list and ‘get on with my life’ and partly from a sense of obligation to others.
‘I know people today that have been hurt and haven’t come forward … I do believe I represent a lot of kids too. The kids of today.’