In the 1970s, Raul and other boys from his orphanage spent two weeks of the summer vacation at a government-owned holiday house on the coast of New South Wales. For much of the fortnight it rained and with beach time limited a teacher came to supervise activities in a hall at the back of the house.
Raul told the Commissioner that at the end of the first day, the teacher asked him to stay back and help clean up. He said that as an eight-year-old, he didn’t really know what was happening when the teacher started fondling his genitals and making him reciprocate.
‘This happened over a nearly two-week period when I was there’, Raul said. ‘Nearly every day it was. Then he got me up, put his penis in my mouth, and that went on for a couple of days. After that, he took down my pants and put himself inside me. I told him to stop and he wouldn’t stop. And then when he finished, he said, “Don’t tell anybody or you’ll get hurt”.’
As the day approached to leave the house, the teacher again threatened Raul not to say anything. ‘And I haven’t told anybody until recently … And that’s because then it was the Royal Commission or something about it, and that’s why I’ve come out about it. You know, it shouldn’t happen to anyone.’
Raul said he’d had nightmares about the abuse for over 40 years. ‘There’s not a day I don’t think in my life when I haven’t thought about it. Just been with me all the time.’
His first disclosure was to a psychologist in 2013. One of the effects of the abuse, he said, was distrust of people. He also lost respect for himself. ‘Not going out with anyone. Later on when I found out, you know, it’s a bad thing, because I didn’t know it was a bad thing at the time. And it just grew on me and I didn’t really trust anybody for quite a few years. I mean, right up to where I live now, I didn’t trust anybody.’
Raul said he had recently started thinking about reporting the assault to New South Wales Police. He’d wanted to before but felt ashamed and embarrassed. Although he wasn’t sure of the dates of the abuse, he thought they could be established because a well-known entertainer had visited the house during the time he was there to sing for the children.
He hadn’t told his brother or his children and didn’t think he would. ‘I just started talking. I’ve got anxiety, you know, talking about it. It’s hard to talk.’