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Vivian Fiona's story

‘They play to your teenage self because, you know, I thought, because I was very tall then, so I felt gangly, ungainly, whatever, and all of a sudden I’m getting this attention and … I hadn’t ever from my peers because boys were all small before they start growing.’

In the early 1980s one of Vivian’s teachers at her South Australian high school began having sex with her, and it made her feel like she was ‘a woman’.

‘I was a sexy woman, which is so stupid, but I was a teenager … and then as it progresses, it was horrible because I didn’t want to be doing it and I was vulnerable and I was scared and I was embarrassed and out of my depth and I couldn’t tell anyone, because nobody knew.’

Vivian told the Commissioner, ‘I’m actually the one that stopped it because I just felt so awful. And it was really difficult as a teenager to say, “I don’t want to do this anymore”’. The abuse went on for about eight weeks at the school and at the teacher’s home, before Vivian put a stop to it.

Prior to the abuse, Vivian had been a good student, but she failed her matriculation at the end of Year 12. She had ‘very good grades mid-year, and I failed every single subject, so bang went university … I got where I am from hard work’. She now has a career she is proud of, but had planned to attend university when she left school.

The teacher was young and very popular and he spoke to the students as if they were friends. ‘Look, a lot of the time it was fun … all the boys adored him. He was a role model … and because he was younger, the girls thought, “He’s a bit of all right”.’

Vivian told the Commissioner, ‘I look on it now and I think, you know, I probably flirted … and done all of those sort of things, but now that I’m older, I think, that’s not my problem, or my fault. As a teacher he should have said, “Well, you can’t …” and I think it’s only as I’ve gotten older that I realise that that was so, so wrong. And it’s not my fault. I shouldn’t feel guilty’.

Vivian wasn’t the only student abused by this teacher and she knows of two other girls who were abused by another teacher at the school. She described the two teachers as possibly having been ‘in cahoots’ with each other. Vivian reported the teacher to the police and he was extradited from another state. The police told her that the teacher acknowledged the abuse, so if he pleads guilty, she will not have to go to court.

Vivian said that after reporting the abuse, she ‘thought it’d be cathartic to talk about it. I don’t know that it’s made a huge amount of difference, maybe a little bit, knowing that the guilt’s gone a bit’. She would also like to see ‘justice. He’s done something wrong. He needs to pay and if he has to pay, then that may very well be a deterrent to others’.

Vivian would also be happy if she could receive some compensation for the abuse she experienced. ‘I didn’t get to go to university. It has had an effect on me, the way I brought up my children. I have never had a relationship with a man older than myself. I don’t trust them and so therefore they’ve all been quite disastrous … That could have occurred without this happening, but I don’t know.’

Vivian told the Commissioner, ‘whether he goes behind bars or not, by having a conviction, he won’t be in that position to do it again. I think that’s really what I want and for people to know him for what he is’.

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