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Ric's story

‘The consequences were – I failed English. I failed English for a long time because I didn’t want to read anything. I didn’t want to go there. I just associated … English with him. And I knew there were other boys that were probably affected too.’

Ric grew up in Sydney in 1950s in a large Catholic family, and two of his aunties were nuns. Money was tight and Ric was expected to leave school at intermediate level and get a job. ‘I grew up in a pretty harsh environment. I joined the Police Boys Club … became a boxer.’

Mr Finlayson was a lay teacher at Ric’s De La Salle college. When Ric was in his second year of high school Finlayson told his mother he was failing in English. He offered to give Ric private coaching in his home, which was across town. Ric’s mother agreed to this additional tuition, and so Ric caught the train to the teacher’s house.

Finlayson, in his 40s, was married but no one else was in the house when Ric arrived. He took Ric into his library and attempted to rape him. Ric ran away.

This was the only time Ric went to the house. Finlayson continued to teach him at school but did not attempt to abuse him again.

Ric never told anyone about the incident. He felt ashamed for getting ‘caught in this situation’, and his family connections in the Catholic community inhibited him from disclosing.

A couple of the Brothers at the school seemed to look out for him. Looking back, Ric believes they knew something had happened to him.

Ric noticed other boys were also being given ‘private coaching’ by Finlayson, but did not speak to them about this. ‘To be quite clear … what he did is convince the mothers, in particular, who worried about their sons … It was hard times, then, to get a job.’ He is aware some boys at the school were ‘mentally screwed up afterwards’.

After school Ric started an apprenticeship. He was good at the technical side of his job but, when it came to writing the technical reports, he really struggled and had to rewrite them numerous times. ‘I failed English all my life.’

Over the years, other events in Ric’s life have eclipsed the trauma associated with his childhood sexual abuse. He was called up for national service and fought in Vietnam. There, some of his friends were killed. When he returned ‘the young ladies here would … treat you pretty poorly’. Ric also experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which he feels he ‘handled pretty well’.

Ric married in his early 20s and had children, and is now a grandfather. ‘Fortunately things did work out for me in the end.’ His wife is the only person he told about his sexual abuse. That was nine or 10 years ago, in response to her asking him why he struggled with writing English.

Ric has never reported the abuse to police. ‘I guess I was a little bit ashamed that I got caught in this situation.’ He is now contemplating applying for compensation because of the ‘consequences’ the abuse had on his life.

He currently suffers serious health problems and his wife is seriously unwell. He doesn’t have counselling but gets a lot of support from his military friends. He also volunteers in a young offenders program run by Rotary. ‘That probably helped me too.’

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