Raymond was sent to an Anglican orphanage in South Australia after his dad’s marriage broke up. It was the early 1960s and he was eight years old.
Soon after Raymond arrived, Mr Manning, the manager, took him aside and introduced him to a man called Pete. As far as Raymond knows, Pete had no official connection to the orphanage. Nevertheless, he was allowed to take Raymond out on day trips and overnight excursions nearly every weekend for the next five years.
Pete seized this opportunity to sexually abuse Raymond and drag him into a paedophile ring.
The first incidents happened on weekends at Pete’s house. ‘During the night’, Raymond recalled, ‘when his wife was asleep, Pete would come to my bed and that is where the abuse took place’.
Raymond tried to report Pete. ‘The first time the abuse took place I told Mr Manning on my return to the orphanage and was given six of the best and was told to never tell such evil lies about such a good man again.’
After that, there seemed no point telling anyone about the abuse and no point fighting it.
‘Eventually I became used to the abuse and would look forward to Pete’s visits because it was a chance for me to leave the orphanage for a while or sometimes overnight. When I was older I was also given a dollar, which was a lot of money then, and told to tell no one and spend it secretly.’
Raymond was also taken to Pete’s ‘beach shack’, where he got to do ‘fun things’ like swimming and fishing and picking fruit that he could take back to the orphanage. But there was a high price for these benefits. Pete brought other men to the shack so they could abuse Raymond. These men, he recalled, ‘were always well-dressed business-type people’. One of them wore a police uniform.
Raymond was eight when he first tried to kill himself. ‘I tried to cut my head off with a big pair of scissors.’ For that, Manning gave him another ‘six of the best’ across the backside with a leather strap.
Raymond escaped the abuse at 14 when he left the orphanage to work on a sheep station. He spent some months there then saw out the rest of his teenage years living on the streets of Melbourne and Sydney, working as a prostitute.
The cops arrested him every now and then for vagrancy or failure to pay fines and he ended up doing time in several different jails. During one of these stints he fell ill. The doctor who came to see him was one of the paedophiles from Pete’s shack.
‘He recognised me and I recognised him. And he freaked and I never saw him again.’
Over the next 20 or so years, Raymond got ‘addicted to nearly every drug you can think of’ and tried to take his own life several times. He saw many psychologists, counsellors and group therapists but never spoke to them about the sexual abuse. The first person he told was his wife, when he was in his early 40s. She has been supportive through some very dark times and they are still together today.
After a recent suicide attempt, Raymond finally decided to open up to the hospital’s psychologist. The ensuing consequences have convinced him never to trust any service-providers again.
‘There was a breach of confidentiality there where he told his wife who also worked there and then she told everyone. And so I never went back to see him again … I mean, it’s a small town. Who else knows? I walk around town now with me head held down, ashamed, not knowing who knows what about me …
‘People like me are just grist for the mill. They’ve got their well-paying jobs and they don’t really give a shit. They’re just going to write up their report, they’re going to keep their pay check. You’re just another case. I don’t want to be written up and talked about behind me back, in front of anybody. You can’t trust people.’
Pete and Manning are now dead so Raymond sees no point in reporting the abuse to police. He’s not interested in compensation but would like an apology from the Anglican Church – ‘that’d mean more than money’. Otherwise he just wants to put it all behind him and get on with life.
‘It’s better left buried. Can’t do anything about it now. It’s all happened and gone and finished.’