I’m so glad. Maybe now my abuser’s many other victims might come forward. It would be hard to believe there were not other victims; even if I hadn’t heard all the anecdotal evidence from other girls. It certainly hasn’t done me any good, telling my story. Here’s hoping those who do come forward receive support. I’d like to thank Meg Perkins, the Psychologist to whom I owe my sanity. She could scarcely believe it when I informed her, early in our sessions, that at 17 I had had an “affair” with the organ teacher. My choice of this word served to remove from UQ, in their eyes, responsibility for the abuse of a 17 year old, still a child in the eyes of the law.
Here I must backtrack a little to what it was like in the 60s. Affairs were glamorous. And I wanted to be glamorous more than anything. It was the era of James Bond, women in mini-dresses with long cigarette holders pouring themselves out of sports cars. My sisters were 8 and 10 years older than me. They wore taffeta and lace dance frocks, listened to Elvis Presley, Joan Baez, dated stuffy private school boys, ignored me. I longed for them to notice me. What a coup, I thought, when the organ teacher turned to me and said: ‘I’ve heard of men my age falling in love with 17 year old girls before, but I never thought it would happen to me”. It was so perfectly pitched. I immediately imagined myself the star in a Lolita movie.
In 1969, girls like me couldn’t wait to leave our strict girls school, where hems had to touch the ground when kneeling, and top buttons fastened when exiting the grounds. I had no brothers; my father was always out at meetings. His factory had been purchased in a hostile takeover, and he was retrenched, but he sat on several boards. My mother said we’d be fine.
She drove me to my first organ lesson; I’d never been to St Johns before. If a movie were made of what happened, the soundtrack as I entered that vast space should be anything but a bridal March. The Beatles’ “She was just 17, ya know what I mean” – would work better.
The organ teacher waited at the christening font. This was appropriate, as I would, in the months to follow, be anointed into the ranks of girls who have been sexualised. I now know that he tried it with other girls too. I was different because I’d been isolated from my parents for a long time. Later in life I made friends with my father, but could not get on with my mother. That the police later shared my disdain – “Your mother has a lot to answer for” has had the paradoxical effect of making me want to defend her. She did her best. She took me to all the symphony concerts when I was growing up.
Maybe now that Australia’s MeToo movement seems to be heating up, some more of the organ teacher’s victims will come forward.