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Todd Mathew's story

Todd grew up on a farm in far north Queensland during the 1970s. One time when he was five, he went to Sunday school with his brother. They sometimes attended a Catholic church with their mother, but this lesson was held at a different church. Todd does not recall what religion it was, only that the priest wore red, white and gold robes.

The priest took Todd out to a dark place at the back of the church, and sexually abused him there. Todd’s brother had stayed at the front, and was curious as to where Todd had been. Todd did not tell him what had happened, and never spoke to anyone about the abuse at the time. He never saw this priest again.

Todd remembers that he became very frightened at night after this incident, and always wanted to sleep with his parents. He was generally a fearful child, who hated being touched.

When Todd reached high school, he began drinking, taking drugs, and wagging school. He couldn’t get on well with his parents, so moved in with his older brother when he was 13. Although continuing at school, he was a poor student who often misbehaved. ‘I didn’t trust many people. I was always in fights.’

Within a few years he was getting into trouble with the law, and was first incarcerated when in his late teens. Around this time he fell out with his siblings too.

In his early 20s he met his wife, who has been a significantly stabilising force and helped him stay away from crime and drug use. They were together for two decades, and he maintained consistent employment during this time.

After having children, Todd’s memories of the sexual abuse increased. He was a very protective parent, and would not let anyone babysit his kids.

Todd gave up drinking around five years ago, and memories of the abuse resurfaced and became more persistent at this time.

‘I was no good on alcohol. But then after not being able to drink, I sort of really didn’t know how to deal with it. So I went to see a counsellor ... It seemed to make it worse. And then I turned to ice, to drugs.’

This drug use lead him into trouble with the law again. He had issues at work too, and he was prescribed medication for depression.

Todd has recently been charged with domestic violence offences against his wife, and was in custody awaiting sentence when he spoke to the Commissioner. He recognises that he will need support once he is released, including to address his substance dependence issues. He now has regular contact with his parents, who are supportive and visit him often in jail. ‘They don’t know anything about this. I told them I was going to talk to them when I got out, ‘cause maybe Mum can answer some questions.’

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