Between the ages of 10 and 18, Rebecca was sexually abused multiple times by her uncle, Matthew Hogan, who also happened to be the Catholic priest for a nearby parish.
The abuse began in the early 1980s. It started with Hogan talking to Rebecca and her sisters about sex, ‘And then during that period it moved on to him fondling me’.
Rebecca said there were many factors at the time that stopped her speaking out. For starters, there was a general perception in the town that ‘paedophilia was just a given in some ways … It was known by all the children who the people to avoid were, and if you just happened to get caught up in their mess you just didn’t talk about it’.
There was also Rebecca’s naivety and the confusing fact that Hogan was not only her uncle but a priest as well.
‘We were taught as young Catholics that the clergy are actually divine in the sense that they are chosen by God, they are the embodiment of God, and I had fair-dinkum believed this. As a 10 year old I did not know that sexual abuse – I knew it was naughty but I didn’t know it was a crime ... and this just makes it sound sick: I thought that maybe God had chosen me for something special. So I almost justified it in that sense.’
Not until Rebecca was in about Year 8 did she realise that what was happening to her was actually a crime. ‘And then I was just like blown away. I just didn’t even know how to handle how an adult could do that.’
At 13 she began to drink heavily and skip school. She described herself as ‘out of control’ by the time she got to Year 9.
Then, in a teary, drunken state at a party one night, she made her first ever disclosure of the abuse.
‘Kind of fessed up to everybody at this party, then when I got their reactions, which were complete and utter disgust, I kind of recanted it all.’
The abuse continued until Rebecca graduated from high school and moved away to university. She experimented with sex, but ultimately found it unrewarding.
‘In my 20s I was over-sexualised from the experience and then as I got older, I just found I had too many hurdles to jump quite often to just get to that happy place with sex.’
She found stability in her working life, starting a career in her early adulthood that continues today.
A few years ago Rebecca saw a television program that outed Matthew Hogan as a child abuser. By then she was emotionally strained and struggling to cope. ‘I couldn’t live the way I was going, so I either went to the police or I got over it.’
She decided to go the police. First she called up her sisters, who had also been abused by Hogan, and the women went down to the station and made statements. Hogan was later arrested and charged.
Years have passed now and the matter is yet to go to trial. Rebecca is angered by the delay and disappointed with the behaviour of the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
‘The DPP doesn’t even want to speak to us. If we want to know anything we have to ring them, and mate they are used car salesmen, they just bullshit you … I just don’t trust them. I’m sick of people telling me crap. The police do it, you know, they just tell you what they think you want to hear. And you get bored of being lied to.’