As a junior employee for a large company in regional New South Wales, Patrick didn’t question the authority of two employees in their 40s when they told him to step into a private room with them.
He told the Commissioner, ‘They told me to pull my pants down, and then one of the men anally raped me while the other watched on, then the other one took his turn. I didn’t know what was going on, I was just a boy. It went on for about two years’.
It was the late 1960s. Patrick was 14 and employed as a messenger boy when the abuse started, and his prolonged absences during his morning mail rounds went largely unnoticed. Every day he dreaded going to work, knowing what may happen.
‘They used to orgasm in me, and then I had to walk around bloodied all day with their fluids leaking into my pants and everywhere. It still breaks my heart, how do you even begin to get over that?’
Though Patrick often worked alongside his uncle, he could never bring himself to reveal the abuse.
‘My dad was institutionalised for most of my life and my uncle stepped in and became like a dad to me. He got me the job at the factory, and he loved me so much, it would have killed him to know what was happening to me, so I never ever told him.’
A manager took Patrick aside one day and directly asked if he or anyone he knew was being abused by the men who had been raping him. Patrick replied that he was being abused. However, after this disclosure, nothing more was said.
‘I suspect now those two men were abusing other kids and that’s why I was asked if they’d touched me. Not long after, the two men resigned and were never heard from again. I was never asked to what extent they’d abused me or offered any medical assistance. Life went on as if nothing had happened.’
Later in life, Patrick sought professional help to navigate through the pain caused by his earlier trauma. He also reported the abuse to police and was told the two men he’d named were dead.
‘I’ve suffered depression and anxiety throughout my life, and that’s impacted my ability to parent my three boys. I think their younger years were pretty tough with me because I didn’t know how to deal with my anger and grief, but I’ve worked hard to repair those relationships over recent years and spend a lot of time with my wonderful grandchildren.’
Patrick has lodged a claim for compensation with the Victims Compensation Tribunal, and said while an award of money would help him pay for counselling there is no dollar amount that will heal his emotional scars.
‘All these years I’ve blamed myself for what those men did to me, and it tears me apart when I read about the same thing happening to other kids.
‘My prayer has helped me survive and the Lord says you don’t have enemies, but what do you do – forgive them? I don’t know.’