Terry's story

Terry believes the reason his younger brother Tom committed suicide about 12 years ago was because of the sexual abuse they both experienced in the 1950s. After Terry’s parents separated, his mother began another relationship and sent her children to a Christian Brothers’ home in Western Australia. Terry was about five years old and his brothers were younger.

At the home Terry was repeatedly subjected to various forms of sexual abuse by Brother Yannick, including oral sex and rape. Brother Yannick was also abusing Tom, and the brothers made a pact never to tell anyone about the abuse they suffered.

After about a year Terry told another Brother about Brother Yannick’s abuse and was sent to another Christian Brothers’ home, and separated from his brothers.

At this new home Brother Hamish sexually abused Terry, and whilst fondling him would tell him stories about boys who had died in mysterious circumstances there. Terry believed these stories were threats, and he was flogged if he did not submit to Brother Hamish.

Sometime later, Tom joined Terry at the home. Terry saw Tom being physically punished by being put in a cage and having sticks poked at him and being kicked. He didn’t think anyone would believe that this happened until he heard that Salvation Army officers did the same thing to boys in their care.

Terry was required to work in the dairy and fields and spent little time in the classroom. When he left the home at 16 he could barely read and write and was constantly in trouble, unable to hold down a job for any length of time until he met and married his wife. Before that ‘I didn’t know whether I was AC or DC, you know, gay – I had doubts’.

His wife helped him with reading and writing and he went on to have a family and build up a business. The hardest thing for him has been to trust other people.

Terry sought advice about getting compensation, especially for unpaid wages for the work he did on the farm while he was at the Christian Brothers’ home. He was told that he would not be successful getting any compensation for unpaid work.

Terry later went through the Towards Healing process and met with the Christian Brothers. He did not have independent legal advice, and believes that the Brothers were not interested in Towards Healing. He told the Commissioner that ‘this Brother says to me, “Oh well, we haven’t heard anything about Brother Hamish, anything like that”. He said, “It doesn’t matter anyway, he’s dead”.’

Terry received $37,500 for the physical and sexual abuse and for unpaid wages and a written apology under Towards Healing once he had signed a deed of release. He also received compensation from Redress WA.

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