Abuse in Care Inquiry: ‘I was ashamed and felt totally trapped’

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A man has presented a harrowing testimony of being terrified as a boy for every day of school through two years, at the Abuse in Care inquiry.

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A man has presented a harrowing testimony of being terrified as a boy for every day of school through two years, at the Abuse in Care inquiry.

This story was originally published on RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission.

GRAPHIC CONTENT: A man has presented a harrowing testimony of being terrified as a boy for every day of school through two years, at the Abuse in Care inquiry.

Known only as John, the 52 year said he was sexually abused 40 years ago at the Marist-run Xavier Intermediate School in Christchurch, between 1980 and 1982, by principal Brother Giles.

John describes Giles as a very loud, big man who used fear and intimidation to get what he wanted.

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John was at the school for only a short time before Brother Giles took an interest in him.

He said it started with grooming.

”When he was grooming me it was about two or three times a week, but once the sexual abuse started it would be sometimes a couple of times a day. Other times it would be two or three days break. I never knew whether it was going to be today, tomorrow or the next day.”

He said the abuse took place at school, a local swimming pool and also at the Cathedral.

”Sometimes he would trick me as I was an altar boy at the Cathedral, so often I would serve for weddings and funerals during school time. Sometimes Brother Giles would send one of the boys to tell me there was a mass at the Cathedral, and he wanted me to go over and serve.”

John told his father about the abuse early on, but to no avail.

”My father was very religious, and he didn’t believe me. He said words to the effect ”a man of the cloth would never do anything wrong, and I never want to hear about this again. He made sure that was the end of the conversation.”

After that, their relationship was never the same again.

”Everything about the way he talked to me, the way he reacted to me, changed.”

John was terrified for all the two years he was at the school.

”Once the rapes started I was scared to go to school on a Monday, and I was relieved when the weekends came. Before I had to go back to school on a Monday I would be wide awake all night trying to make the night last as long as I could. I was so scared going back in the morning.”

He said he felt alone and frightened.

”I was confused. A 12 year old. I was ashamed. I was ashamed about what was happening and felt totally trapped.”

John went to a state high school and ended up as a rebellious student.

After leaving school he lost his way and even contemplated taking his own life.

John finally opened up to his wife 40-years after he was abused. He then started a drawn out process seeking redress, which continues to this day.

He even approached the Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, Paul Martin for help.

”He said he doesn’t see that the diocese has any responsibility for what happened in the Cathedral. He provided me with an analogy, if a person came into your house and molested another person would you expect to be held responsible for that.”

”I do not accept this, because the cathedral is not another person’s house, it’s on consecrated grounds.”

John said he believes the church is trying to wash its hands of him.

He said Brother Giles’ abuse could have been prevented, as complaints about him had been made as far back as the 1950s.

This coming week, the Royal Commission’s focus will be on abuse in care in the Anglican Church and Salvation Army.

This story was originally published on RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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