Just over two years ago, inspired by the amazing courage of victim witnesses at the Child Abuse Royal Commission, I spoke out publicly about what two perverted men had done to me while I was a scholarship student at a Brisbane private school,and how it had damn near ruined my life and left me afflicted with a disability forever.
Within 48 hours of publication one of the perpetrators had taken his own life in preference to facing the music for the horrendous crimes that he had committed against me and undoubtedly many others.
Gregory Stephen Masters was the evil pervert’s name, and at the time of his death he had been variously a boarding master, Head of Junior School and swimming coach at the elite Brisbane Boys Grammar School for the better part of 20 years, even though he had never been a member of the swimming squad at the school at which I was abused, or a swimmer anywhere of any note.
Masters – whose M.O. was to drug kids with Serapax slipped into vodka and orange drinks he plied us with when we were 13 and 14, and then rape us when we passed out – was deified by the sex abuse deniers and pedophile protectors at Brisbane Grammar, and I was thrown under a bus.
The school ordered its student population to turn out en mass for the kiddy fiddler’s funeral – which wasn’t held at the Grammar School chapel, or even in a church, which tells you something – and as a result almost 1000 kids turned out to farewell their fair-weather friend, exactly like what happened when Queensland’s most prolific sexual abuser Kevin Lynch, a former Master at both Grammar and my school, gassed himself hours after incomprehensibly being granted police bail on serious child rape charges.
What did I get?
An attack dog website funded and run by Grammar Old Boys attacking me mercilessly for speaking out about my abuse, and branding me a murderer responsible for the abuser who exiled me to the mean streets as a vulnerable homeless teenager’s death.
F*cking lovely wasn’t it?
But it got worse, because Kate Kyriacou – the supposed crime journalist who wrote the Daniel Morecombe book – wrote a highly unethical and fact-free story for the Sunday Mail repeating the accusations made on the Grammar-funded and produced website that I was a murderer, and her Editor the erstwhile Peter ‘Gleeso’ Gleeson – who had the f*cking hide last week to ask mutual friends what I had against him other than his rank hypocrisy on matters political and his blood lust love for Greyhound live baiting – authorised the fake news story’s publication in Queensland’s most read newspaper.
So here I was, a kid who’d been attacked and abused by pedophiles and by virtue of the courage of other had developed the long overdue guts to speak out and up, and I was being branded a f*cking murderer on the front pages of the paper for a million readers to see, including my Dad, my whole family and every friend I’d ever had.
F*ck that I thought, and f*ck you Kate Kyriacou and Peter Gleeson.
How f*cking dare you?
So I sued, and within 5 minutes of lodging the first legal letter the newspaper – which didn’t have a leg to stand on and knew it, because their story was all lies – had their high-priced lawyers contacting me wanting to settle my claim.
After extracting about 5 times the juice they’d offered I did settle it too, but for less than a twentieth of what the defamation case against the c*nts who’s branded an innocent victim of a gutless pedo who’d topped himself when exposed was worth.
I gave the whole settlement – the lot, I didn’t even deduct expenses – to the Morecombe Foundation and Bravehearts, hoping that it might help to save another little kid from the terrible horrors that befell me.
Later Hetty Johnston – a venal, corrupt, faux-victim advocate, wannabe politician and fraud who was pocketing the fees from public speaking gigs on child abuse matters – attacked me in print and called me a defender of pedophiles for having the temerity to write a series of articles complete with documentary proof exposing her self-benefiting cons and rorts (see story republished below).
It was great being a child abuse victim who had found the ticker to tell his sordid tale in those pre-Harvey Weinstein and Don Burke disclosure days wasn’t it?
But do you know what? They could call me whatever they liked, for all my faux outrage – which wasn’t really faux at all. but rather a stance in defence of all the others in the same boat as me who were still hiding in shame and fear I really didn’t give a fuck.
I’d crossed the Rubicon line, and for the first time in 47 years had realised that the abuse was not my fault, and never had been.
My abusers were adults who knew exactly what they were doing, and I was just a little kid, a little kid too young to even know evil was.
I was just an innocent little kid.
It wasn’t my fault, and it never was.
That’s the truth, and it’s become my mantra, and repeating it to myself every day is what has kept me alive and allowed me to grasp life with both hands instead of drinking and drugging myself into a stupor every night and hoping that I’d die.
Until they find the strength to speak out about their abuse and set themselves free all child sexual abuse victims secretly want to die. It’s the self-loathing that does it, the doubt and guilt and sense of shame and feelings of total inadequacy that eat us up inside and lead so many victims to jails or psych institutions or early graves.
Those of us who survive get through life propped up my booze and smokes and drugs legal and illegal, and by pretending to be the person we falsely imagine other want us to be and doing what in our confusion we think that expect us to do, and we give off the impression to the people in our private circles and to the world at large that we are just like them, but we’re not and we’re lying to them and to ourselves and inch by inch we’re dying a little more each day inside.
Until one day the lucky among us have a Damascus moment, and in a lightning-strike like moment of clarity suddenly realise that it wasn’t our fault, not ever, and that the shame is not ours but that of our assailants, and that the truth will set us free.
Many of my old friends and colleagues think I’m crazy these days, and if you listen to the doctors I probably am. But what they don’t understand is that ever since the day I was first abused I was always crazy, and just new how to hide it well so I could survive the best I could and try to be a half-decent husband to my wife and a good father to my daughters and a dutiful son to my Mum and Dad.
Do you know what though?
I was just kidding myself.
Unhappy self-hating blokes and birds can’t truly be what they deeply aspire to be because when your life is a lie you always live in the dark, and fear it too.
The truth is what sets you free.
It brings you joy, and makes you realise for the first time in decades that you are actually okay, and that you always were but due to the violence of others you just didn’t know it.
I’m okay now, and I’m happy, and I’m free, and I feel like a bird soaring high in the sky and looking down on the world and seeing that it’s really spectacularly beautiful, a thing of joy to behold and to be grasped with both hands and enjoyed for every moment of what precious little time I probably have left as a sentient human being.
I’ll never be whole and I can never erase the scars of what happened to me when I was young, and I’ll die if I try, but I can learn to embrace my disfigurations as battle scars and be proud that I got through the war and came out the other side at least partly intact rather than as a name on a sacred site wall, and I can smile and I can laugh and I can love and I can fly, and I no longer fear anything, not even death because I’d been dead for 30 years, but now I’m alive and goddamn I bloody love it.
If you’re a silent victim you can too.
You just have to stop the silence and speak out.
It wasn’t your fault.
It never was.
The truth shall set you free.
Matthew Browning, you are a legend, and your courage will save lives.
Speak out son.
Tell it like it is.
Let the world know what happened and out the demons who did it, so that they can never do it to another young person again.
The truth shall set you free.
Tell it and you’ll never stop dancing for the rest of your life.