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Travis Sean's story

Travis was raised by his grandparents in a remote area of New South Wales, from when he was six months old.

In the early 1990s, because it was difficult to get to high school from where they lived, his grandparents decided to send Travis to school at a hostel run by the Anglican Church, that was located in the nearest large town.

Travis was sexually abused at the hostel by Reverend Davis. The reverend called Travis into his office to discipline him, then forced him to strip naked and flogged him on the buttocks with a willow stick. He then cuddled Travis and fondled his genitals. The physical and sexual abuse took place over a period of eight to nine months.

‘I think I could have prevented [the abuse] meself by telling me grandfather, but I felt I couldn’t. I honestly didn’t think anybody’d believe me if I told ‘em. I didn’t think they’d believe me … You’ve got no idea how much of a liar he made me look like. Most of the time it was just to get me in his office, for his so-called punishment.’

Travis told the Commissioner, ‘I’m surprised that my grandfather’s still alive. My grandmother’s died. What I put them through after being at the hostel, because I blamed them for putting me there …

‘I spent that many times trying to run away … There was even times where I rang up my grandparents and begged ‘em to come and get me, but they didn’t know what was happening. I couldn’t tell ‘em. I didn’t know how to tell ‘em …

‘The way Davis went about it, it was like in the end it became a game. Like, I don’t believe I’m the only one. I do know he’s been to court and he was acquitted … because he had so many upstanding citizens helping him … If I’d known he went to court, I would’ve went there meself and I don’t think he would have been acquitted.’

Travis realises that he can’t keep blaming his grandparents ‘for what [Davis] did … I thought about that. They trusted him. They trusted the Anglican’.

The sexual abuse that Travis experienced at the hostel has had a huge impact on his life. From the time he was a teenager, he has had mental health issues and for a while abused drugs. ‘I’ve tried lots of different things. I’ve even tried suicide. I can go back to a time when I was about 16, 17, when I tried to do that … Pretty silly things, when I look back on it, but it was my way of dealing with it …

‘Put a bit of pain in the body and took the thought out of the mind but then after that … found drugs and through other associations and things like that, went down a whirlpool. In and out of prisons …’ Travis stopped abusing drugs for the sake of his children.

It was Travis’s violence and anger that led him to do something about the abuse he experienced as a child. When his partner called the police after a violent argument, he ‘felt bad about it and basically felt like walking out in front of a truck’. His partner convinced him to seek help, and he did.

As a consequence of this violent episode, Travis found out about the Royal Commission. ‘I was pretty sort of lucky to find out about [it] because ... when I lashed out, in violence and all that … I went and seen a doctor … and was talking to the mental health worker at the hospital and they got me in touch with the Royal Commission.’

Travis spoke to a counsellor from the Royal Commission and found it ‘uplifting. I’ve spoken to other counsellors in the past. I sort of found her a bit different. I felt a bit more cheery after speaking to her’.

He told the counsellor that although he wants to report Davis to the police, he fears telling his story to a male police officer. After speaking to the counsellor he began to write his story down in preparation. He’s hoping that once he goes to the police he will ‘get to see some kind of justice’.

Travis commented, ‘Writing it down on paper was easy, but then reading what I wrote, was sort of like: “Did this really happen to me?” Sometimes it feels like a dream. It’s not’.

At one stage, Travis phoned the Anglican Church to report the institution. The person he spoke to said, ‘“You do what you have to do and good luck”, and hung up’. Travis said, ‘The way I see it is like these Anglicans and Catholics and all that, they spend all these years living behind their own doors. It’s almost like they’ve made their own laws, you know’.

Travis spoke to a solicitor referred to him by the legal service, knowmore. The first thing the solicitor spoke about was compensation. Travis told her, ‘Hang on. It’s all good and well, compensation and that sort of thing, but what about the future? I mean, that’s not going to make everything better, because I’ve still got to live with it. It’s still there in the back of me mind’.

Travis felt a sense of relief after his private session at the Royal Commission. ‘It almost makes me feel like smiling when you say [that it wasn’t my fault]. I haven’t heard anyone say that before.’

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