Warwick Andrew's story

‘I had a mother who was obviously a little bit mentally deranged or, I think, not that it was [diagnosed], but I think she had Munchausen’s by proxy. Because as a child, I was medicated quite significantly with Dilantin, Medrol, Tegretol, Phenobarb, Ritalin, and Prozac on a daily basis.’

Warwick told the Commissioner, ‘I would walk across the road, tripping and doing all sorts of stupid things because I couldn’t [function]’. His mother told doctors that he was having grand mal seizures. Despite no one witnessing these seizures apart from his mother, the health professionals believed her, and prescribed massive amounts of medication for him.

Warwick’s mother convinced their local community in Tasmania that he was ‘mentally retarded … and that I had only an IQ of 45 or 50 or something’. He believes that this is why he was targeted by paedophiles when he was a child in the 1970s.

‘I think that’s where a lot of people thought, “This is okay. This kid’s drugged up. No one’s going to remember. Who’s going to believe him anyway”, and I think that’s what I believed in the end as well.’

When Warwick was in Year 8, ‘my mother and father told me that I would never amount to anything so I need to leave school … I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to go to university’. By this stage, Warwick was ‘learning to eat pills and then spit them back up’, but when his parents found out, the doctors began forcing medical tests and medication on him, ‘putting junk into my stomach’.

One teacher was convinced that there was nothing wrong with Warwick and took him to live with him for about five weeks. But after that, Warwick’s parents wouldn’t let him have any further contact with him. ‘He believed in me, but I never believed in myself. I probably still don’t, to a point.’

There was also ‘a lady … and she said, “There’s nothing wrong with this boy. You shouldn’t be doing this”’. Neither of these people were able to prevent Warwick being incorrectly medicated.

It wasn’t until the early 2000s, when Warwick completed a tertiary course and ‘got credits and distinctions and all of a sudden, it was like, “Hang on a minute, but I’m dumb. Why did that happen?” you know … I was still moving through the corporate world, but I still thought I was dumb.’

As a child and well into his teenage years, Warwick was very involved with his local church and the Church of England Boys’ Society (CEBS). He believes that a paedophile ring operated out of the church and the CEBS in his area, but he has ‘blocked a lot of things out. I know that I have blocked it out because I’ve seen a psychologist recently to make sure there’s … things that I can get out of my system’.

Although he doesn’t remember being sexually abused by members of the paedophile ring, he feels that something did happen to him.

‘I can remember being in an office with a lot of books in there. I must have been about 10 or 11 and I was being taught how to play Pontoon with matches, and that’s the only thing I can recall … I’ve got goose bumps and I know that there’s something that happened in there. I don’t know what it was, but … I remember sitting there playing cards … but I don’t remember anything else.’

When he was 13, Warwick was sexually abused by a lay preacher at the church. ‘The way he got me into doing the things that he wanted me to do was him saying that this is normal behaviour.’ Warwick’s 16-year-old cousin told him the same thing when he sexually abused him around the same time.

‘Just the way that they said, “This is what boys do. This is what they do”, and “Oh, okay. Must be right” because I didn’t really get any guidance from my father or … my mother either. So I thought, “It must be right and everyone’s telling me. I believe it”.’

Warwick never told anyone about the sexual abuse he experienced at the hands of the lay preacher and his cousin. Because his mother had convinced everyone that he was ‘mentally retarded’, he thought that no one would believe him.

Seeing a psychologist has helped Warwick, but thinking about his childhood sexual abuse still causes him anxiety. ‘Every now and then, when things get really tough. Like, I used to think I was getting shingles … even the last few days, like my face is … just on one side. That’s just a stress-related … I can handle business stress, but when I think about things like this, I just get really, really quite stressed.’

Warwick came to the Royal Commission because, ‘I just wanted to make sure that I could tell you … I thought, what if I’ve just got one piece of information that you might need to have a conviction. … I don’t want any money. I don’t want any handouts … I just wanted to make sure that it can prevent something from happening. That’s it’.

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