Tenterfield: My Happy Childhood in Care

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There is no point in generalising. Still, some people do. Bob Katter famously said in if there were any homosexuals in his seat of Kennedy he would walk backwards from Bourke to Brisbane. Simon had not come out at that time and when he heard the comment, his rising self-acceptance of his sexuality was pushed back down.

Back in your box. Ultimately, this is not a story of discrimination in country towns. But these stories belong to ordinary people getting on with ordinary lives. Or as extraordinary as any one of us. They have an Australian stock horse stud, a gourmet pizza shop in town and Simon still travels to the mines to raise the money to develop their property. They met nearly 10 years ago when Simon was managing a property in Glen Innes.

Greg grew up in Nundle, playing polocrosse. They were both late to come out about their sexuality, which happened separately in their 30s. Once they met up, they worked together in the mines. In the first week on the job at a BHP mine, workers were friendly but strangely muted. Simon laughs when he remembers a fellow worker later told them that the company got the workforce together to do a bit of anti-discrimination training a week before they arrived.

A mine conjures images of uber-masculinity but Greg says they never struck any problems and management did not tolerate any discrimination. After the US supreme court decision declared marriage equality across that nation, Simon and Greg were excited by the rate of change, coming hot on the heels of the referendum in Ireland. They got engaged, nine years after they first met. When the vote came up in the Coalition party room, the couple crossed the road from their pizza shop to seek a meeting with their local MP Barnaby Joyce.

They were told to email, but have had no reply. But they need to look at what it says to young people coming out in their electorates. She describes her childhood as a happy one. She is the eldest child of a policeman and a hairdresser. At 12, her state of mind changed, switched on by puberty but confused by her sexuality. She too buried it. She studied her image for any sign that might show people what she was unwilling to admit, that she was a lesbian.

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At 15, it got too much and Kyla took an overdose of pills, followed by stints in psychiatric hospitals. During that time, she was asked by a nurse if she was gay. That was that. She married at 21 to answer a question that no one but herself was asking. She gave birth to her son Matthew at A house, a child, a life. It took another 10 years of angst and for Matthew to get a severe illness he has since recovered to bring the issue to a head.

When she made an admission to her local GP, he was supportive and they talked through the next stage. Kyla eventually told family and friends. Some people she expected to be supportive were not.

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Others surprised her. She apologised at the news. She thinks about her year-old self and believes she has made it easier for the next teenager struggling. I thought I was a bad person. You have to accept yourself before you come out. Now she lives in Gladstone, just down the road from Crystal Brook, with a population of about When the abuse started, he quickly fell to the bottom of the class.

In the 40 years since, he's lived with the terror of those assaults every day, questioning his self-worth, feeling he is simply used by everybody. Could you live like that? The impact on our lives and our marriage has been enormous. Though he died in , the priest lives in our home to this day, casting his evil shadow over every part of our lives. In the past 24 months, my husband has had a psychological breakdown, but he is finally getting appropriate care and slowly revealing details of his past.

He gave evidence in a private session at the royal commission, but he is very psychologically fragile. This wasn't his first breakdown. In , my husband's mother announced that their "dear friend" the priest, aged 59, was moving into an aged care facility a couple of blocks away and would be coming around for some meals.

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Aged 15, my husband threatened to kill himself at school and was admitted to a psychiatric facility. All these years later, he has no skin on his hands, forearms and upper legs because he has picked it off. He is constantly shaking, grinding his teeth, breathing fast and loudly, rubbing his feet together, unable to mix socially, unable to work. I too am a victim of that priest. Every day I walk a tightrope balancing empathy for my husband with anger for the circumstances of our lives — lives of lost opportunity, happiness and love.

I love my husband with all my heart.

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He has a sense of humour that will have you doubled up with laughter. He is extremely intelligent, supportive, caring and compassionate.

I can't imagine life without him. And if I had my chance again, knowing what I now know, I would marry him again — in a heartbeat. But I'm angry for what I have lost. My husband is frequently unable to provide companionship or conversation, he struggles with intimacy.

We don't mix socially, or travel. I feel lonely most of the time. I am an outsider in my husband's world as he is trapped in his anguished thoughts. All I can do is sit on the sidelines and watch the suffering. I feel angry that I've got no understanding people to talk to. I'm furious that despite all the time I've spent in waiting rooms, not one doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist has come out and asked how I'm going. Nobody has said, "Do you need any help?

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While my husband understands the sacrifices I've made, I don't feel he understands emotionally, because he is consumed with his own anguish. That makes me angry, but he can't help it — none of it is his fault.

The brightest spark in both of our lives, is our son. As difficult as it is, my husband attends every performance, every event and wouldn't dream of missing any of them.

At school functions, we keep our distance from other parents as my husband is constantly anxious and shakes uncontrollably. Our son is concerned that people will think his Dad is an ice addict because of all the sores and scratch marks on his arms. He has told me he wishes Dad played games with him and that he had a relationship with his father like other boys have.

Our son has witnessed extreme emotions in his home; coupled with being an only child, he has maturity beyond his years. That has made him selective in his choice of friends. Teachers have criticised him for lacking social skills, but I fear they have little understanding of secondary trauma. Every spare cent we have goes towards my husband's psychologist appointments. He receives 10 Medicare-rebated sessions with a psychologist per year. In many instances, survivors don't even get their choice of counsellor.

Like most survivors, my husband has significant trust issues resulting from PTSD. He saw three local counsellors before finding one he felt he could work with. Even then it took several months before he was comfortable enough to get anything meaningful out of the sessions. He should not be forced to attend counselling with somebody else who he may not feel comfortable with, who he must establish trust with from scratch, to access counselling funding through the redress scheme.

Counselling for trauma survivors can't be a "one size fits all" scheme. Not all counsellors are adequately trained in trauma counselling and referring survivors to "Victims Services" may not be right for every survivor. Survivors need some autonomy in their lives and that starts with the right to choose their own counsellor.

The redress scheme needs to be redesigned around the five trauma-informed principles of safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment. My husband's perpetrator is buried with full priestly honours, his headstone marked "rest in peace". But there is no peace for my family. While sexual abuse robs children of their innocence, it also traps them in innocence.

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