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Seamus Peter's story

‘I’ve only mentioned it to two people: my wife about three years ago and my sister very recently.’

When Seamus told his wife that he’d been sexually abused as a child in the mid-1960s, ‘she gave me a bit of a serve, you know, and asked why didn’t I tell her earlier’.

‘I’d managed to bottle it up for however many years and it really only brought it to the surface [with] all the talk about the Church and all this sort of stuff over recent years ... Up until then I’d done a very, very good job of sort of putting it behind me and forgetting about it.’

Seamus had been in his first year of high school at a Marist Brothers college in Sydney when he was sexually abused by Brother Edward.

‘It was going over the top of my strides and genitals, that was in front of the class, but when we were kept back, you know, his hand would be inside your trousers.’

This was repeated over a period of 12 months and stopped only when Seamus moved into a different class in his second year.

‘I didn’t know what to do and I certainly wasn’t going to talk to my parents about it,’ he said.

At around the same time as telling his wife, Seamus hit ‘rock bottom’ and started taking antidepressants. ‘They worked to stop me feeling like I had to kill myself’, he said.

He’d talked to his doctor about his feelings of depression but not about the abuse. ‘I’ve been very, very careful about who I’ve mentioned it to, and I’m still a bit ashamed and not at ease with it, you know ... She’s great, I just didn’t mention it to her. This sounds weird, but men are like that.’

Seamus said he’d thought of reporting Brother Edward to the police. He hadn’t done so and wondered whether it would be worthwhile since the man was probably deceased. However, he’d ‘like to see the Marist Brothers taken to task for it’. He also thought his statement might add to other reports about Edward. ‘Or it might help me sleep better at night.’

Seamus described becoming an ‘over-achiever’ in life, particularly in sport, sometimes to the point of injuring himself.

‘I really think the sport’s a replacement drug to a large degree you know, like my wife … says, “You’re just destroying yourself, you know”. And I really think that you get self-respect, but you also get endorphins, different brain chemicals that make you feel good and so I’ve been like that since I left school. When I was 16 I started being like this and not before that, and that last year of school I found I could basically hurt myself and feel good, and I’ve hung onto that. It sounds silly saying that. It’s always been my own replacement drug.’

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