‘I’m angry at a lot of people … I wasn’t but now I am … because I think back and I wouldn’t have let that happen [if I was an adult].’
Roger’s family lived in a town in regional Queensland, and had very little money. His father went to jail in the late 1980s, when Roger was very young, and his mother and grandparents became the primary carers of Roger and his sister.
The local doctor was an old friend of his father’s, and began to support the family with financial assistance for the mortgage and for groceries. He would also regularly visit Roger’s grandparents for Sunday lunch.
When Roger was eight years old he fell ill and was sent to the doctor, whose practice was run from his house, for a checkup.
Roger went alone. ‘He [the doctor] said “Get naked – take your clothes off”, and was holding onto my testicles telling me to cough … it went on for a very long time.’
This set a pattern and the doctor, who was already in his 70s, grew increasingly bolder in his assaults on Roger. The doctor would explain the touching, kissing and, in a number of instances, digital rape, as necessary for some medical reason.
‘Because he was just a doctor you’d just assume … and he did it in a way where it seemed sort of legitimate [at first].’
The doctor groomed Roger’s whole family. He was very supportive of all of them and would regularly be generous, except with Roger’s sister. Roger remembers one Christmas when this favouritism was obvious. The doctor gave him a number of expensive gifts but his sister received just one small inexpensive present.
Roger believes that the adults in his life should have known something was happening to him. Not just his family members either, as the doctor had a chef, a cleaner, and a gardener.
‘I just know there was people who were looking at the situation.’
Because of the man’s standing in the family Roger was often obliged to be in his company and the abuse moved into more public and prolonged kissing.
‘He’d come over for lunch on the weekends and … I’d walk him out to his car … and he’d open the door and get in his car and do it [prolonged kiss] right there … He [was] trying to make me think that that’s not unusual … Them long kisses happened every weekend … [and] he took photos of me once.’
Roger never admitted that he was being abused, even when his grandparents grew suspicious when he was 10 years old. He feels immense guilt about the circumstances he continued to find himself in.
‘I don’t think [not telling] was the loyalty. I think that’s why I feel guilty because I think it was the money. I did think that he loved me but what he was doing was wrong … that’s why I feel incredible guilt over it because I did it for money.’
The doctor was incredibly manipulative. When he became seriously ill, Roger was asked if he could do the man’s shopping for him.
‘I wasn’t a bad kid … I did really well [at school] … played representative rugby league … [and] As I got older, I really thought “You don’t need this shit”, sort of thing … [The doctor] told my mother that he was giving me fifty dollars a week to do the shopping but he’d [actually] give me a hundred.’
Roger would also take cigarettes and alcohol from the man’s house. ‘He wouldn’t give it to me but he would know that I had taken it … something he sort of had over me.’
He understands now that the man had too much power over his family, but he still feels that he was somehow complicit in the grooming and the continued abuse.
‘You end up with secrets … holding from everyone around you and when you get older you think, “I would have said something” [but] they [abusers] put themselves in a position where to accuse them would be like “Oh, they’ve done so much for you”.’
Roger finds it difficult to talk about his abuse. ‘I think back and just think … I was just a kid. He was a smart man, he knew what he was doing … [He] tested the waters and knows what he can get away with.’
When he was 17 years old Roger moved away to the city to live with his father. The doctor threatened him with no further assistance because of this.
Soon after moving to his father’s, Roger was convicted of his first criminal offences and had to serve a custodial sentence. From detention he rang the doctor to ask for help. The doctor said no. In the phone conversation Roger grew angry and now believes that the doctor was worried that he would report him. Not long after, the doctor suicided.
Roger is homophobic and believes that this is from his years of abuse. ‘It’s sort of like, you want to prove to yourself that you’re not gay so I … pretty much always had a girlfriend.’
He feels deep shame, embarrassment and guilt about the circumstances of his youth but doesn’t believe he would have spoken out if he’d been asked.
‘You could have asked me till you were blue in the face and I would have just denied everything. Mainly, not for him, but for myself, because you just don’t want to deal with it … You don’t want to talk about it. You’re embarrassed to talk about it … I don’t think approaching the kid is the [thing] because they’re just going to lie. If you think something’s going on, you approach that adult. It’s just that people don’t because it’s a really confronting thing.’
He is now hypervigilant around his partner’s daughters, even just taking them shopping or to sporting events. He realises that others might think he is irrational but he knows how easy it is for a child to wind up in an abusive situation.
‘The only reason I really wanted to come up and speak to [the Royal Commission] is … I just think they should be more aware of not letting kids into doctor’s surgeries [by themselves] … He [the doctor] was obese and he was sick and you wouldn’t think he’d be able to get a hard on but there’s different types of sexual abuse.’