RESPONSE TO APOLOGY FROM ST STANISLAUS COLLEGE by DAMIEN SHERIDAN
The anticipation leading up to the day of the 16th June 2017. The day St Stanislaus College apologises to the victims of Child sex and ritual abuse.
The lead up put me on a downward spiral. A number of issues did not sit well with me and the first was the apology was announced as a public apology but no public/media was allowed. With ongoing pressure from victims and the concerned public at the 11th hour the college announced media would be involved, the apology was then as it was supposed to be a public apology as the college first announced, but there was no chance to have media that wanted to be there able too.
With all the lead up, anticipation, anxiety and the feeling of despair in the thought I had to return to the college if I wanted to hear the apology were triggers after triggers.
By this stage my CPTSD was full blown and I was everywhere and nowhere. It was my son Zak that took over and did what needed to be done to get me there, he wasn’t taking any reason for us not going, he had seen the anxiety and crap that I was going through with the thought of having to go back to the College to sit through a ‘literly of sorry’ with the college announcing that it was a religious event with prayer and religious appeal.
I really didn’t remember what that was like being involved in ‘religious ceremonies’ and then the event started. Suddenly people around me started singing the song ‘come as you are’ then memories came flooding back, memories of church, the college, the event, the pain, the sadness, the anger, the despair of no listening to me to get me out.
I had sent letters to my parents, and then sent letters to my aunties to get me out. It fell on deaf ears. The feelings and emotions, anger and rage came flooding back in a waves I never expected. Then ‘The Lord Is My Sheppard’ was sung, I was shaking at this stage holding everything in and feeling extremely uncomfortable in the environment. I had the support of my son Zak my mother and step father were there as well, I knew they would keep me safe, that’s the only thing that kept me together.
Having people sing around me was really uncomfortable; I really lost memory of what church was like and all the religious bullshit that had been drummed into me as a child. It all came flooding back and having people sing or chant around me was one of the worst feelings I can remember for a long time, my childhood at the college came flooding back and at that stage my sadness turned into pure anger.
The most concerning and what didn’t help was that when I was turning the corner to enter the building at the college where the apology took place, was a very tall priest.
My heart sunk. I said to Zak I know him. The feeling in my gut was a long deep pit and saying to myself just hang on and get through this, you made it this far, not long to go. I just walked straight past and into the auditorium.
The issue was the very tall priest that I recognised was at the college at the end of my time there, Fr. Gregory Brett. It was, fuck, he was at the college, did he know what went on at that time, it would be hard for him not to have known, especially when all this started to come out first in 1994 and in the postion that he holds in the Vincentians.
Now what was he doing there?
Well he is now the provincial Vincentian and he was giving the apology on behalf of the Vincentians and the St Stanislaus College.
My CPTSD by this stage is in full flight. I kept saying to myself, they cannot hurt you; you are not a child this time around. The fact is that they did hurt me and in ways I never knew was humanely possible and to live with it. Then to see Fr. Brett there sent waves of emotion and none of it was positive, becoming angrier listening to the apology from him. The “Words Come To Me” he kept repeating over and over all I wanted to do was tell him that for me the last time I went to a priest look what happened, “come to me, come to me, come to me” kept repeating in my head and the images/flashbacks were extreme but with the help of Zak and the support of my mum and step father, and the other victims and their families, I kept it together even made it through the chanting in the litany of lament, but I drew the line at the lord’s prayer, at that stage I knew that it was time for me to leave.
Holding it together I got up and walked out and Zak got me to the car and home where I crashed emotionally.
I was made aware it had been 3 months, 2 weeks ago (date now 4.10.2017) as I have been trying to obtain the video footage of the event.
The ABC told me the college is the only one with the copy so again I build up the strength because I have to now contact the college.
So I send an email to the head of the college and I am happy to say I got a response this time and a positive response but the college said they didn’t have the copy the media have the only copy.
So, here we go again, I have to fight for the access to video, then the college told me that there is “no footage” of the apology, my response was “well that’s a bit silly to have video recorders there and not record the event”.
What he ‘Zak’ has done with supporting me through the crap that I have had to deal with and a 10 year court case is remarkable and amazing. I get told it’s the way I bought him up with values and morals I should be very proud. Of course I am proud of my son, but what most people don’t realise is years ago when I had to tell my children what was going on with court and my childhood, Zak made the decision then to stay, though I offered to take him to his mother if it would be easier. I think that’s was the first time Zak expressed anger towards me and said “that’s not an option dad were in this together”.
All through the case and year after year he was there and I was there for him we had each other.
He was in for the long hall as he knew I could not walk away no matter how hard it was and how many times over the 10 years I had had enough and just wanted to die, I just want the pain and hurt to stop, it has consumed my whole life and not in a positive way.
He rode the ups and downs and was just there when no one else could cope with me and my CPTSD, the pain, hurt and anger reliving and reliving over and over again, there was no escape.
We moved to the mid north coast and I started to teach my kids about the ocean, movements, rips etc. and to surf. He wanted to know how and what a rip was like, so when I saw an opportunity I put him in a rip with me and we floated around the ocean and had fun, then showed him how to get out of one and how to use a rip to your advantage when your surfing etc. jump in one to get out the back quicker. Then he was at the beach and some elderly holiday people got caught in a rip so Zak went in and got them out and saved their lives. I am so proud of Zak that I cannot finds words to describe how proud of him I am not just as my son but the man he has turned into.
The Apology statement from Dr Ann Wenham was read with heart felt emotion and I respect that. It is emotional for everyone in different ways. “I acknowledge too, that for some victims and your families, this Service cannot and will not bring the healing and peace you crave and deserve”. That’s very true and I am glad to hear at long last some sort of understanding the damage caused to children intrusted into their care. So much went on at that college and I will say it again it was a well organised pedophile ring.
Let’s also call a spade a spade, yes teachers at the college were charged and convicted but the majority convicted pedophiles were priests, brothers and clergy laymen. This was not a on off, If you follow the convicted pedophiles from the college they have victims wherever they went. They knew exactly what they were doing and kept doing it.
The college was a haven for pedophiles, all those boys around they were in paradise. Parents dropped off their children to these men and said goodbye to their children, only to loose their children forever. The last thing they expected was to hand their children over to priests and brothers only to have their children used to fulfill their sexual desires and pleasures.
I’m glad that Dr Wenham has the insight at least to acknowledge this and that I also respect. ”It is time to say sorry”. It was time to say sorry long, long ago, instead we the victims were dragged through a ten year court case. That alone is soul destroying, reliving and not been able to function, the anxiety of it all, I was living on fight and flight all that time. Many ways I still am, I know nothing else.
Fr. Brett also made a speech, as you could imagine by this time I was on high alert CPTSD and all that goes with it.
Listening to him speak; all I could think about was here you are making this speech but you were at the college, did you know what was going on? We will never know the truth; nothing the college has done has been to help victims at all.
I responded to the invitation to be involved in the apology as reported in a news article ‘Goondiwindi paper’ of all papers. So I ended up emailing the college but I didn’t get a response back. Knowing the college and there past I don’t trust them at all, nor do I have any reason to trust them, they took that away as well.
I tracked the email so I know it was received and opened but they chose not to respond. If they had off then I would have been able to explain how difficult doing what they’re doing with the apology can cause more damage than good.
Over the last few weeks I have only started coming out of the CPTSD emotion and behaviour. It’s interesting for me I seem to revert back to the memories of that hurt little child shaking in the dark asking himself what the just happened.
The emotion and anger, I constantly have to remind myself I am not a child and they cannot hurt me anymore. The apology was a nightmare for me. When he said we failed you it was like no shit Sherlock saying it is one thing doing it is another. “We have failed to live the Gospel of Christ and the vision of St. Vincent”. Yes you did.
Nowhere I know in the gospel of Christ says it’s ok to abuse children physically or mentally, to be used for the pleasure of priests, brothers and laymen.
I was told I had the devil in me; I was also given an exorcism. I was 13. I was raised in a small country town of Forbes. I was so nieve. Little did I know what people are capable of and I met the worse of them all.
There is no excuse; there is no apology that can make up for the devastation of my life since. I don’t live, I exist. Maybe I don’t want to exist anymore, maybe, just maybe I want to live and an apology is not going to give me any of my life back, I am now 46 and this has consumed the last 30 odd years of my life.
What society thinks are simple things like shopping, checking email or just going out I find extremely difficult, you can’t give me that back. You cannot give me a career a relationship. It would be nice to have someone to hold me that tight that they put all the pieces back together, but that won’t happen, you cannot give me life back. That’s what you took.
If Fr. Brett was aware of what was going on at the college when we I was there and he says “I monitor the individual Priests and communities and I am, in turn, monitored by a panel of lay persons who are well trained in the area of child protection. I would be happy to speak about these changes with you at the break”. Knowing about it and doing nothing about makes you helping protect these pedophiles achieve their sexual pleasures with young boys possible.
Who are these lay people, are they appointed separate or part of the college/Vincentian. Are they Independent from St Stanislaus college.
“But it is not enough to say I am sorry. There has to be more”. I totally agree Fr. Gregory Brett, but what??
You have not offered any help, you have not even recognised the amount of damage done to children over decade’s, victims have committed suicide, you are responsible for that. You have not offered us to get any help to deal with what has happened to us under your ‘the Vincentations’ care.
After I left before the Lord’s Prayer, one of the mothers asked for a memorial, like a garden. I think this is a great idea, but a garden?? I get it, I really do, I have a mother and I see the pain in her eyes. If the mothers want a garden then that’s up to them but speaking for myself I would like to see a rugby tournament with a shield or trophy making it a weekend to raise awareness and support for victims of child sexual abuse, after all it is a rugby college and growing boys full of testosterone and energy. I remember things like the whybird shield……it can be done. It’s done all the time in the other football codes.
I appreciate the apology but can I accept your apology……NO I CAN NOT.
Too much has happened, it been over 30 years, you cannot give me back my life that was taken from me at such an early age, you turned me into a very angry hurt confused damaged person. I never had a chance. A ten year court case that the Vincentian’s dragged out for as long as they could and the dirty tactics were disgusting.
This was exposed in 94 now 2017. Over 1 million dollars spent of Spillane’s defence let alone Gaven; McPhillamy; Dwyer…the list goes on. Having to fight to get a public apology actually public.
I came to you, as hard as it was I emailed you as the invitation asked, and you ignored me.
What would you expect really, an apology and life moves on, I believe you at least have the insight to know that not true. Still there is so much yet to come out. I appreciate and thank you for your apology Fr. Brett and acknowledgement from the college but it doesn’t change anything for me. “But it is not enough to say I am sorry. There has to be more”. There has to be more, but what?
I remain open to you Fr. Brett; you have access to my email at least. I ask you, where to from here?
Lately every time you read the news there is something about a priest saying that they refuse to marry gay couples, really you believe you have a right to say anything at all.
The time in believing everything a priest tells you are well over, and you should get your own house in order before you criticise or judge anyone else.
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