From as far back as Teddy can remember he didn’t want to be at home. His parents were heavy drinkers which caused them to be violent. He joined several clubs that met after school and on weekends, and they provided an escape from his family life.
In his early primary school years Teddy joined the surf lifesaving club near his house in Sydney. He wanted to be a surfer and was delighted that some of his school friends had joined. He also became an altar boy at the local Catholic church.
After several lessons at the surf club, Teddy met one of the volunteers, Eric O’Callaghan. O’Callaghan was also a member of their youth group and attended the same church. He was 18 and very popular with the young boys. Teddy remembers O’Callaghan constantly having a group around him, looking up at him in awe.
When Teddy was eight he and his friend Bob were taken to the back of the surf club by O’Callaghan. Teddy felt special because it was just the two of them that got to go. O’Callaghan led the children across the road and into a large drain.
‘I remember seeing the light at the end of the drain … I was on his shoulders while he was doing indecent acts on me … We were naked, I don’t remember what happened but I remember hearing Bob whimpering.’
For the next two years Teddy and Bob were both sexually abused by O’Callaghan several times at different locations. Teddy was also abused on the church grounds after youth group.
One time Teddy and Bob were taken to a different part of the church. Before O’Callaghan could abuse him again, Teddy pushed past him and ran outside.
‘Bob screamed out my name in a harrowing voice. I froze. Eric got out and he stopped me. I remember saying, “I’m going to tell, I’m going to tell”. He said not to tell.’
The last time Teddy and Bob were abused, O’Callaghan took them up into the church while renovations were occurring. This time, Bob’s sister came with them.
Teddy cried a lot at home and school. He constantly felt insecure around people and at times would retreat into himself, and was devastated when Bob moved away.
One afternoon, Teddy’s father sat him down and asked if something had happened with O’Callaghan. He said it had, and couldn’t stop crying for a long time.
After speaking to his father Teddy didn’t see much of O’Callaghan. He was shocked when O’Callaghan was arrested by the police for other offences several months later.
‘I remember this clear as day, I overheard one of the surfers saying that O’Callaghan had been arrested. I said, “What about me? Why haven’t I been told? Why haven’t I been cleared?” It created a lot of confusion for me.’
When Teddy was 10 he harmed himself at school. He had vivid nightmares about the abuse, and was haunted by Bob’s cries. He started drinking heavily in his early teens, which affected his sports and grades. He disassociated himself from people his own age, leaving the surf club and youth group.
Teddy was never told what happened to O’Callaghan, and this made him angry. By the time he was 16 he become a drug user and gambler. He dropped out of school and started working.
‘From there on then, it was a blur … If I found something that I like, I would cling onto it as if my life depended on it. That was for drugs and alcohol and partners.’
Teddy saw a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with depression, and participated in a 12-step program to help beat his addictions. During this time he tried to take his life several times. In his late teens he was admitted to a psychiatric ward.
Teddy was in a relationship that was stable for several years but it eventually broke down. The flashbacks came back and he was gambling heavily.
The breakup affected his career so much that Teddy’s boss told him to take some time off. His boss then asked him to do him an illegal ‘favour’ while he was away. ‘I can remember thinking, "I hope I get caught", because I didn’t care.’
Teddy did get caught and spent several years in jail. In custody, the flashbacks became more intense. He engaged with a psychologist and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. In the early 2010s, Teddy was released.
Around a year ago Teddy he split up from his most recent partner. After this Bob got in contact with him via social media and they decided to meet. They sat up all night talking about their dysfunctional lives.
Teddy and Bob went to the police station and reported O’Callaghan. At the time of his session, Teddy was awaiting O’Callaghan’s criminal trial. He expressed his interest in applying for compensation, but wants the trial to be done with first.