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Quinn's story

Quinn grew up in regional New South Wales, in a devoutly Catholic family. His dad was an alcoholic, the kind who came home drunk and ‘told us how much he loved us, cried – he was the sloppy one, I suppose you could say’.

At primary school, Quinn was the class clown. ‘I think I sought attention a lot, and I was probably in trouble a lot’. As he got older, he found himself ‘caught up with the wrong group’, smoking and truanting – ‘I didn’t really like authority much’.

Brother Basil Raymond was Quinn’s Year 8 form master at his Catholic high school, in the late 1970s. Quinn remembers Raymond as ‘a pretty authoritarian sort of character’ who would ‘rule by the stick’. Mostly he didn’t think much of Raymond one way or another, ‘he was just another Brother’.

Raymond sexually abused Quinn on a school camp, when he was playing football with some of the other boys. Raymond ‘was refereeing, and then he joined in. It was sort of “tumbles on Brother” type thing, and he was enjoying that’.

The game went on, and Raymond tackled Quinn. ‘And then his hand went down into my crotch area. And I thought it could have been an accident, so I let it go.

‘And then he tackled me again about five minutes later, and then he went down again but this time he rubbed hard, and gave it a good feel. I was sort of in a bit of shock, I didn’t know what happened, and I walked off the field.’

Raymond told the other boys to keep playing, then crash-tackled Quinn. ‘And he laid on me and said, “What’s wrong? He was rubbing against me, and I screamed and told him to ... I think I told him to “eff off”.’

Quinn disclosed the abuse to his father, saying that Raymond ‘touched me on the wee. And he sort of shrugged it off’. He and his family now suspect that two of his brothers may also have experienced sexual abuse from clergy or at the school, although neither ever disclosed to them.

After this incident Quinn hated Raymond with a passion. ‘My attitude towards him changed, and his towards me changed too.’ For the rest of the year, Raymond belittled Quinn and punished him at every opportunity, often caning him for minor misdemeanours.

The abuse had significant and long-lasting impacts. Quinn had been ‘going okay’ at school but ‘slumped bad’ in Year 9, leaving the next year. He started using alcohol and other drugs. ‘I went through a period of anorexia, where I had a food problem ... I think that was because I had a low opinion of myself, I thought I was fat.’

Quinn's mother passed away and he moved interstate. He eventually completed his high school studies, and qualified as a school teacher. He started teaching in Catholic schools, including ‘for one year, [the school] where it happened’, which brought back memories of the abuse.

Although he enjoys his work, he finds ‘the Catholic stuff’ hard to deal with, particularly the idea of being subservient to clergy in his role as a teacher. He would prefer to work outside the Catholic education system, but jobs are not easy to come by in his area. He would also like to see the order of Brothers who ran the school where he was abused – and where he now knows many other boys were also abused – ‘be struck off’, and unable to continue operating as an institution.

‘I know that’s not going to happen, but ... I think their institution has failed. And they have not acknowledged it. And I think that the amount of lives that have been destroyed … And I know they are hiding behind the fact that it’s people doing this, not the Church – but they represent the Church.’

For many years Quinn did not talk about the abuse, other than telling a couple of close friends when he was in his 20s. In recent years, he reported the abuse to police. They suggested he wear a wire and make contact with Raymond to discuss the abuse, but he did not feel comfortable doing so.

The police interviewed Raymond at his home instead. Raymond’s body was discovered by police some time later, and his death was declared a suicide.

Quinn has recently sought compensation from the Church. They have paid for his psychological assessment, and he is awaiting the final outcome of his claim.

Despite a successful career, Quinn continues to live with self-doubt, and uses alcohol to cope with his feelings. ‘Gambling has been an issue, I’ve sort of succumbed to things that are an easy fix to deal with pain.’

Participation in a group for male survivors of child abuse has been beneficial, as has working with a counsellor he trusts. He finds solace in playing music, and credits his ‘humble beginnings’, and family, with building his resilience.

‘Even though I lost my mother young, and my father was an alcoholic, he still was a great man, and a great philosopher, and a great mind. He was a great role model as a person, he was always very much about making the best of life.’

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