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Uros's story

Uros was a happy child but describes himself as a loner. His parents were refugees from Europe who arrived in Australia after World War II. Both were devout Catholics. In the 1950s they worked hard and managed to buy land in Sydney’s west and start a farm. Uros was one of many children.

Uros went to a local primary school. When he was in Grade 2 at about eight years old the Catholic children in the class were told that they would all be walking down to a local hall to meet a priest. Uros believes it was to receive a blessing, but that wasn’t made clear at the time. ‘If you were going to see a priest you didn’t ask questions of course’, Uros told the Commissioner. ‘He was God and so you were basically going to see God.’

‘My class and teacher sat in the hall in total silence until a heavy velvet curtain opened on a cubicle in which sat a priest. A signal was given and the first child entered the cubicle, the curtain closed, and minutes later the child came out, having been “blessed”.’

Uros remembers being scared as he waited, but relaxed a little as his classmates took their turn. The queue finally reached him and he entered the cubicle, with the curtain whispering shut behind him.

‘The priest began mumbling as he lowered my school shorts and underpants.’

‘I remember very clearly how he fondled me. He placed both hands behind my genitals and twitched his fingers … There was no pain or anything. I thought that was somehow the procedure for blessing, along with the touching of my forehead and the mumbling.’

‘This continued for a few minutes after which he raised my shorts, told me to tuck my shirt in and go. The next child entered the cubicle.’ Uros recalls seeing several boys adjusting their shirts and pants as they emerged from the blessing.

‘I felt strangely euphoric having been blessed, but also confused about the genital fondling.’

Uros told no one about the incident and put it out of his mind as best he could. But when he entered adolescence and received some sex education and learned that ‘my penis absolutely wasn’t to be tampered with’, he recognised what had happened to him was abuse.

‘As soon as I gained the ability to think about those things for myself in an objective way … you hear that your body is your own … you think, “Hang on, something didn’t seem right about it”.’

Reports in the press about priests abusing children also triggered memories for Uros. ‘I became more concerned, until throughout my adult life it has been rare that a day goes by where this does not enter my mind ... The feelings have become aggression and vengeance, even though otherwise I am an absolute pacifist.’

Uros went on to high school in Sydney’s south west. These were hard years as he was often in trouble at school and subject to significant corporal punishment by the teachers. At home his mother also became violent and would beat Uros and his siblings. Eventually he left school and began an apprenticeship in a trade.

Uros has spent short periods of time in jail for various offences over the years. He has been an alcoholic for much of his life and blames his drinking for every bad decision he has made. Uros admits he is not a psychiatrist and can’t be sure his childhood sexual abuse is to blame for his drinking, but feels it may be an underlying cause. He has kept his past largely to himself, having only recently disclosed his abuse to his wife of 10 years before approaching the Royal Commission.

Uros believes the world is changing for the better and hopes his story will add a piece to the jigsaw and help with the reform process. He had previously thought that reporting the abuse to the Catholic Church would be a waste of time, but is now considering making a formal complaint.

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