His sexual abuse of me started in the bathroom, at first he tried to bribe me, then when I resisted, he became threatening and violent. It was severe. (I wonder why no-one heard me crying as he hurt me?) This happened 3-4 times, though I managed to escape once or twice. Then I started waking up in his bed and he would sexually and physically assault me, again this happened at least 3-4 times.
I went to my Dad for help. I will never forget the look on his face as I told him what my tormentor was doing to me; utter distaste and disgust. No comforting words or hug, just that look. That look was for me; he was angry and disgusted with me. I never went to him with a problem again and we were never, ever close at all. My tormentor DID stop sexually assaulting me for a while, though he continued to physically and mentally abuse me, unabated. Why was nothing ever done to stop this?!
When I was 15, he started sexually assaulting me again. I would wake up and struggle but he had intimidated me all my life with physical and mental abuse. I was no match for his violence and his strength. This occurred at least 6-8 times, so I used to stay out at night to avoid him. It was hard because I had to be up early for work. Eventually I was given my own room, and I could lock myself in. As soon as I could, I left home.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I encountered my brother on a visit to my Mum’s with my wife and family. I was playing with my kids under the hose when he came out, mouthing off and being his usual, smart-arse bullying self. We began grappling and I picked him up and held him high above my head. I had a sudden urge to “spear” him headfirst into the concrete. In my mind, I saw blood and his brains splattered as his skull impacted, so very tempting. He seemed to sense something for he stopped struggling and went still. I looked him in the eyes as I gently put him down, and something passed between us. He was never disrespectful or threatening to me ever again, I took something back from him that day. I felt 100 feet tall! I felt that I had dealt with my dreadful memories of my brother’s abuse of me once and for all.
Man, was I wrong!!!!!
Breaking My Silence
My wife and I met when we were both fourteen years old. Not long after I met her, my brother started sexually abusing me again. He also knocked me around in front of her a few times. On one occasion firing steel-tipped arrows into the wall near my head. As soon as it was legally possible, I left home and moved in with my wife and our new-born son, the first of our three sons. She had endured a childhood of physical and mental abuse, I have come to believe that we sensed it in each other and that we “rescued” each other from our dreadful families. We then created the loving family that we both yearned for, for so very long.
Raising three sons and providing for our family was not easy, and kept us very busy. I didn’t really have the time or spare energy to worry about myself, let alone the past. It was only in the quiet hours when the sickening memories would burrow like filthy worms out of my sub-conscious to darken any pleasant or joyful feelings or memories of the day just spent. Despite the love of my family, at times I was filled with loneliness, despair and isolation. I always felt so very different to other people, like some sort of freak. My deepest, darkest thoughts were often of death and suicide. I always knew that there was something wrong within me, but I didn’t know what, or what to do about it. I had to endure years of socialising with my brother, as though nothing was wrong. To see him give my wife a cuddle or play with my kids was utter torment for me but without breaking my silence, I could do little to stop it.
While my sons were growing up, I was hyper-vigilant for any signs of abusive behavior going on between them. I was hard on them, but NOT abusive. I wouldn’t tolerate bullying or ganging up two on one, at all. Over the years, I tried so many times to tell my wife about my childhood, but I could never get the words out. We had no secrets between us, so I was very disturbed about it. I have always written poetry and I often vented my feelings of sorrow, shame, depression, anger and guilt through my words. No-one ever asked me about it though.
Throughout 2006, the inner torment and turmoil suddenly began to grow. I began to wonder why the abuse had happened to me and why nothing had been done to stop it. I tried to approach my Mum about it all, but again, I could never get the words out. The angry venom within me began to ferment; to poison and infect my every thought without restraint. I was seriously thinking about suicide, self-injury and worse, doing serious harm to others. It was only a matter of time.
I anonymously posted a dreadful poem in a Myspace group (it was so dreadful that I never even kept a copy of it). This poem was noticed by a survivor of child-abuse. We began communicating, it was such a relief to find out that I wasn’t the only person that this had happened to, and that I was not alone after all. Finally, I found the strength and courage to tell my wife, my best and truest friend, the terrible truth of my childhood. She was shocked and devastated, loving and supportive. We tried to look for advice and support, there was plenty of advice available, but no support at all! I began to flounder, as I tried to work out what to do.
After a lot of disappointment and heartache, I wrote and took a letter to my doctor, outlining what I had endured as a child and asking for his urgent help. He arranged for me to see a therapist who diagnosed and began to treat me for PTSD, major depression, panic attacks, suicidal ideation, etc. I was also placed on a personal support program with a case-worker. I continued to look for support groups, etc. I contacted many of the major welfare organizations in Australia and was shocked to find out that there is virtually NO SUPPORT or concern for adult survivors of childhood abuse in Australia. I have been looking for years now and the situation has not changed. It seems that adult survivors are forgotten, ignored and neglected not only in this country but across the world, yet there are so many of us out there! Perhaps we really only have each other? I believe that only a survivor can truly understand and relate to another survivor.
I am on medication to help deal with the effects of PTSD and major depression. All it really does is make me numb, taking the edge off jagged reality. Sometimes the depression and stress that I feel makes me physically sick. I still have very bad days/weeks but I am stronger than I was two years ago.
Against the advice of my former therapist, I confronted all of my siblings (except for my tormentor) individually and privately, to find out what they knew and to find out if any other abuse had occurred in our family. I was shocked and saddened to uncover a few very serious incidents and many minor incidents of abuse. When I had talked to all my surviving siblings, I decided that I had to harden my heart and confront my elderly Mum (Dad had died many years ago). I really didn’t want to upset her but I had to know. She denied any knowledge of the sexual abuse that I had endured, though there was no chance at all that she could plead ignorance about the physical and mental abuse that my brother had inflicted on me, because it was non-stop. I consider that my parents are guilty of at least negligence and stupidity.
I am planning on confronting my brother/tormentor soon. I go with the understanding that I may not receive any satisfaction or redemption, but I don’t think that I can move on until I do confront him. I intend to write a letter and take it to him. I don’t want to hurt his family so it will be discreet, one on one, though my youngest son is coming with me as back-up in case it all goes horribly pear-shaped. All I really want is the acceptance and acknowledgement of his wrong-doing and its dreadful impact and effect on me and my life, a sincere apology and the answers to a few questions.
My journey towards healing continues.
Recently I confronted the “monster,” my abusive brother. I really felt that I could not heal or move on any further until I did so. My brother has a hearing impairment, so to make sure that he fully understood what I was talking about, I wrote the following letter, handed it to him and sat waiting while he read it.
You are my brother and I love you, but there is an issue between us that we need to discuss. During my childhood and in my teens, you sexually abused me. All through my childhood and early teens you also physically and mentally abused me. I want you to know that the torment that you inflicted on me has adversely affected my whole life, particularly in the past few years. I am seeing a therapist, and am on medication to try and help me deal with those horrible memories. That anger, shame, guilt and sorrow that I have carried for so long is rightfully yours, and at last I have found the strength and courage to hand it all to you, so that I can heal and get on with my life.
Rather than a monster, I confronted a repentant, very apologetic man who has lived in shame for many years. He had even sought and received counselling from his church pastor, eventually breaking down and confessing to his sexual abuse of me, his little brother.
No denials or arguments were forthcoming, just apologies, offers of prayers and peaceful discussion which ended considerably amicably. I had my wife and my youngest son with me, though they did not participate (I had taken my son as a “blunt instrument” in case things went sour).
He said that he wished I’d come to see him about this before instead of letting 30 years pass. Yet I couldn’t help but say that if he was so “cut up” by what he had done to me, why the hell hadn’t he approached ME sometime in that 30 years? I told him that I forgave him as the man he is today, but that I could not forgive the teenager and young man that he had been. It seems that nothing in life is simply as black and white as we wish it to be. He had also grown up with problems of his own caused by lousy parenting, However, we were both in agreement that did not in any way excuse his disgusting and vile behaviour towards me.
I left this confrontation really feeling that I had achieved something. Yet within a couple of weeks, all the good vibes had disappeared. I felt that I had let him say, and get away with far too much. He lied quite a few times, and I had angrily corrected him. I felt that the only remorse that he felt was for himself, and that he really had no sorrow or real understanding for what he had inflicted on me. He just wanted me to go away and shut me up, with as little damage to himself as was possible.
Further, if he was so sorrowful and troubled, why had he not approached me sometime during the 30 odd years since he had last assaulted me?
Again, I felt myself becoming unhappy, angrier and despairing.
It seemed that I would have to take this MUCH further …..
Not long after I confronted the abuser, the good feelings that I had taken with me from that event were fading fast. I was feeling angry, frustrated and without hope.
I had often thought of talking to the police over the years. Years ago, I could satisfy that taunting inner voice by telling myself that I would do it, one day. I was pretty sure that the police wouldn’t believe me, or otherwise wouldn’t do much about it, but at least I’d have done what I could.
My therapist JC had often given me advice regarding talking to the police, and had also suggested that I lodge a Victim of Crime claim. I was receptive to the first, and completely dismissive of the idea of a VOC claim.
I believe that JC saw my anger, frustration and dissatisfaction with confronting the abuser, and used that as an opportunity to gently push me, and see what I was really made of.
Put up or shut up!
I lodged a VOC claim.
For quite a while, I considered whether to talk to the police. It is not an easy decision to go to the police about one’s own sibling but I felt that I had no other option if I was ever going to find validation, peace of mind… and justice.
We rang the local police station for advice. Again, I took some time to consider whether this was what I really wanted to do.
Again, after considerable time, I contacted the local police station and made an appointment to talk to a detective.
The detective that I spoke to was very polite and courteous, but was not very encouraging. He told me that few “historical” assault cases ever even get to court, but that if I wanted to make the complaint, then he would be obliged to “take action” on it.
He then asked where the incidents had occurred, he seemed very relieved when I told him that they had occurred in another suburb. “You will have to report the matter to the local police in that area.” He agreed to raise an “event” number, with a brief summary of our interview. He told me to “think about it!” Though he was quite negative, I appreciated his honesty.
I let several months pass, and then late in 2009, I contacted Bankstown Police, and was given an appointment with Plain Clothes Constable BU.
My first impression of Constable BU was that he was young, keen and motivated. I told him about my discouraging interview with the detective, at the other police station. “I may be totally wasting your time!” I said. BU said that that was OK, and to tell him about it.
After our first interview, I felt violently sick and spent quite a bit of time in the bathroom before I felt well enough to leave the police station.
Over the next few weeks and months, BU and I worked on my statement, I estimate that my statement took us around 12 hours to complete, over several sessions. When we had to talk about “sensitive” aspects of my story, BU was very kind, understanding and tactful. I soon developed trust and confidence in him.
BU also contacted members of my birth family and took statements from them. He also searched for, found, contacted and interviewed my childhood friend B, whom I had disclosed to when I was around thirteen years old.
I am sure that BU regarded my case as a positive challenge and learning experience, often seeking advice and instruction from senior police officers. He was very meticulous, making sure that every “I” was dotted and every “T” crossed. His enthusiasm, dedication and motivation were very reassuring! He had listened to me, and really wanted to help me.
For my part, I was totally honest with BU, and he really seemed to appreciate and respect that, a lot.
At one appointment, he hinted that I could become more involved and assist with the investigation. At that point, he didn’t want to say anymore about it, but I already had a fair idea of what he wanted me to do…
Despite that, it was still a shock when at a later time, he asked me if I was willing to confront the abuser again, this time wearing a police listening device. I would also have to ring the abuser to set up a meeting. This phone call would be recorded and videoed.
BU couldn’t show me the listening device, but he assured me that it was modern, small and could be easily concealed.
Put up or shut up!
On the night we had agreed to meet and make the call, the whole police station was under strict orders not to use their intercom or the public address system, until after the call was made.
BU and I were set up in an interview room, another police constable videoed the proceedings.
When I rang the abuser, he asked why I sounded like I was speaking inside a bathroom. BU looked very agitated, he thought that we might have “blown” it. Thinking quickly, I said that the phone was one of my wife’s “bargain basement” purchases, and that I wasn’t surprised that it sounded odd. BU’s face relaxed with relief, thumbs up, I had saved the moment!
The abuser was extremely unwilling to discuss the abuse, and didn’t want me to visit him again to discuss it, but I was very insistent and finally he agreed for me to go to his house on the following Thursday night.
I woke up on the Thursday morning feeling enthusiastic, strong and motivated. An early phone call from BU boosted my confidence even more! I was ready!
Around lunchtime BU rang again, to inform me that we might NOT be able to carry out the proposed recording, as he was required elsewhere that night. I dug my heels in, and insisted that we had to carry out the operation tonight, or never! I really didn’t feel that I would be able to handle it if the operation was postponed. BU was very understanding and told me that he would do his best to clear his schedule for the night. He rang me back, and assured me that the operation was still on.
Confidence dropping, slightly…
My wife, eldest son and I left to go to the abuser’s house in the late afternoon. We were dropping my son off elsewhere on the way. Whilst waiting at a red light, a man managed to crash his car into the rear of mine! I was absolutely livid, screaming at him angrily, I wanted to kill him! Of all the days to have a bloody accident, today was NOT the day! Fortunately, I came to my senses, we exchanged details, and were soon on our way again.
Confidence completely out the window!
BU rang us to find out if we were still coming, and we assured him that we were on our way. I was shaking and trembling with raw, jagged nerves by the time we arrived at the police station.
BU was there, with two “surveillance” police constables. I could tell that the “surveillance” constables were looking at me, thinking that there was no way I could go through with the operation. After a cup of tea, a couple of “Fat Tony” jokes and a few minutes rest to calm down, the surveillance team started to prep me. I was rather horrified by the size of the listening device, a box under one arm and a smaller box under the other, wires taped to my back, etc, etc. I felt like the device was sticking out like “dog’s balls!” What happened to “modern, small and easily concealed?” They couldn’t even find a t-shirt with special pockets that fitted me, in the end they put me in a “ladies” size, that fitted OK.
Before leaving the police station, BU reassured me that security was in place, in case anything went pear-shaped. There would be patrol cars at either end of the street, and he would be just across the road in the surveillance team vehicle, armed with a sledge-hammer in case he had to smash doors down to come to my assistance. I was to let them know where I was, within the abuser’s house, at all times. We had code-phrases for me to say, if I felt in danger. BU would then come in and rescue me.
The last thing that he HAD to ask me, was whether I was planning on attacking the abuser physically, once inside the house. I assured him that I would not attack him. BU was reassured by my reply, he wanted to arrest the abuser, not ME!
My wife and I went to our car to await BU and the surveillance team; they seemed to be taking their time! Apparently they tried to drive out to meet us but were stopped by a car park security gate that just would not open.
With that problem sorted, we headed out in convoy to the abuser’s house.
On arrival at his house, my wife and I were greeted by the abuser and his family. He went to hug me, and conscious of the listening device, I recoiled away from him.
“What? No hug, brother?!” he said.
That freaked me out a little!
We were invited inside. The abuser’s wife seemed quite unfriendly which seemed strange, and made me feel a bit edgy. BU had told me that we had around 4 hours of tape for the listening device, but I had no intention of being there anywhere near that long!
It was very hard for me to make small talk, so after a cup of coffee I quietly requested that we have our “private” talk. We went to his shed, and without any further “niceties,” I got stuck into him! I was deliberately crude and direct, to obtain on tape the information that was required.
“Must you be so crude?!” the abuser exclaimed, at one point.
Once again, he told lies, distorted the truth, and rattled on with a lot of his ludicrous, religious crap.
“You are going to burn in Hell because you can’t forgive me for what I did to you!” was one of his more laughable statements.
Some of what he said made me angry and I really did want to physically attack him. I had to keep thinking of BU’s warning that he wanted to arrest the abuser, and NOT me.
After enduring his unpleasant company for much longer than I cared to, I judged that we had more than enough of what was required on tape. I wanted desperately to get out of there.
As we left, my last words to the abuser were, “I think that our talk tonight has gone a long way in helping me get over this, and finding peace of mind.”
He seemed very pleased.
I was feeling extremely angry at this point, I hadn’t liked having to sit there and listen to all his bullshit!
We met up with BU and the surveillance team back at the station, de-briefed, and made statements concerning the evenings activities. The male member of the surveillance team told me that he had been doing this work for over 8 years, and that he felt that this operation was one of the most successful that he had ever been involved in! That made me feel a lot better!
BU told me that he would give me a call sometime during the next week or so. We left and went home. I felt a lot of weight coming off my shoulders. I had done it!
Some time before contacting the police about the abuser, I had decided that I needed to challenge my fear to see if I had the strength to get through an ordeal, such as court. I had tandem skydived, challenging and dispelling my lifelong fear of heights. I felt glad that I had done so. Wearing the listening device and visiting the abuser really was a most difficult and stressful experience!
A day or so after, my loving wife brought home a beautiful blue cattle-dog pup for me, whom we named “Misty Blue.” A very, very special dog, indeed!
I wasn’t expecting to hear from BU for at least a week, so it was a shock when he rang three days after the operation. All I could think was that the recordings were screwed up, or something else had gone wrong.
BU asked, “Are you sitting down?” I replied, “Should I be?” He then informed me that a few hours earlier in the day, he had attended the abuser’s workplace and had arrested him on seven counts of sexual assault on me. At present he was down in the holding cells awaiting further interview. Later in the evening he would be released on bail with reporting and other strict conditions. I was stunned but happy, I thanked BU profusely.
The abuser had apparently been tight-lipped at first, but when presented with some of the recorded evidence, he began to admit his wrong-doings, though with more than a few “alterations” here and there.
I was pleased that he had been charged with seven counts, though as far as I am concerned, it could well have been twice as many! I am not being critical of the police or prosecutors by saying that. I followed this course of action with the knowledge that it could all lead to nothing. I had no expectations, that way there would be less disappointment.
I was extremely lucky that BU had been assigned to my case, his investigation was thorough and professional. I have so much respect and appreciation for his understanding, dedication and motivation.
In early 2012, I was contacted by the prosecutor from the Department of Public Prosecutions, J. J was a former police officer. I phone-conferenced with BU to discuss the case. J was compassionate, dedicated and highly motivated.
After a few meetings, it transpired that the abuser’s defence had requested a plea bargain: a plea of guilty in exchange for the dropping of four charges related to the earliest assaults. It also transpired that two crown prosecutors were going to be involved, one for each side.
All through this time, the abuser had to appear in court every month, and also had to report to the local police station.
Through discussions with the prosecutors, I learned that the abuser would more than likely be given a “suspended” gaol sentence. However, there was another possibility that really disturbed me. I was concerned that the abuser might receive a “section 10,” in which basically the judge finds the charges proved, but records no conviction against the offender. I did not want that to happen, I wanted history to record the abuser as a sick sex offender! It was important to validate the whole process that I had started, and was still going through!
I was also in contact with JA, from the DPP Witness Assistance Program. JA was very helpful, friendly and was able to advise me regarding the preparation of my Victim Impact Statement.
J rang me to tell me that the abuser’s sentencing in court had been set for June, 2012.
We were ready!
Please take care when viewing or listening to the below stories, as their content is distressing and disturbing. It is at times explicit, and contains strong language.
John’s story was on Radio National’s Breakfast show. Listen to the podcast below.
You can also read the Sydney Morning Herald article: Brother jailed after horrible secret of sibling abuse is finally revealed
John’s story continues
on Living Well in Justice: Court reflections