Time for an awakening

“He who makes a beast of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man”, Samuel Johnson

I understand, I think, what created the monster who abused me at 17. What I’ll never understand is how I’ve been viewed since, by the Church who treated me with contempt, by the media who have ignored me, by many in my family. I’m grateful to the University in some ways, but can’t understand how my characterisation of the abuse as “an affair” was taken at face value – so that I was not seen to have been groomed, but to have actively encouraged it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Thankfully, in 1967 and 1968 I’d had two years of the most wonderful education anybody could want. Years 11 and 12 were a turning point for me. I went from being somewhat of a behaviour problem (gifted, bored) to an engaged, attentive student. I finally had a music teacher who recognised my gift; I advanced four grades in two years. At 17, I’d been organist at our church for two years, was Dux of Somerville House, and was writing letters to a boy I’d met at the United Nations Association year 12 conference in Adelaide.

I won a Commonwealth Scholarship – along with many of my peers, in 1969. This was a relief to my parents; my father had just been retrenched from the company he’d run all my life. His father had left it to him, a hessian bag factory where Southbank is now. My mother drove me to the first UQ organ lesson. She waited outside St John’s while I entered the huge ‘sanctum’. What I’m trying to recapture is that person; the one who at 17 had faith in a good world, and a bright future. If only someone had acted sooner to prevent the horrors that awaited.

In 2002 a young priest made the brave decision that was to destroy him. I hope he is ok, and remain grateful to him for providing the only real corroboration I’ve ever received. His mother waited until she was dying to disclose what happened to her as a 12 year old. May all the girls who are still blaming themselves for their abuse know this: it wasn’t your fault. You didn’t cause it. Your abuser had, tragically, made a beast of himself – to try to lose the pain of being a man.

cheers

Sylvia

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