My Application for Leave to Appear at Case Study 10 (Salvation Army) Hearings

The second public hearing by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse into The Salvation Army has been advertised as commencing in Sydney in Thursday, 27 March, 2014 (moved from Monday 24 March, 2014). On the basis that I believed I have “a direct and substantial interest in the Scope and Purpose of the public hearing,” on 9 March, 2014, I lodged a written application for leave to appear at the public hearing.

According to the Royal Commission’s website:

“The public hearing will inquire into the handling by The Salvation Army (Eastern Territory) of claims of child sexual abuse between 1993 and 2014. The hearing – the tenth since the Royal Commission was established – is scheduled to run for up to two weeks. Royal Commission CEO, Ms Janette Dines, says the scope and purpose of the public hearing is to inquire into:

  1. The policies, practices and procedures of The Salvation Army (Eastern Territory), between 1993 and 2014, for responding to claims of child sexual abuse at children’s homes it operated or elsewhere.
  2. The application and adequacy of these policies, practices and procedures between 1993 and 2014.
  3. The experience of people who made complaints to The Salvation Army (Eastern Territory) between 1993 and 2014.
  4. The policies, practices and procedures between 1989 and 2014 concerning the disciplining of officers of The Salvation Army (Eastern Territory) who were the subject of allegations of child sexual abuse.
  5. Any other related matters.”

I have written a very long statement detailing a number of matters pertinent to the scope and purpose of the public hearings. I am very pleased to be able to say that the Royal Commission appears, at this stage, to be interested in what I have to say, and I am grateful for that.

I understand that my application for leave to appear may be refused for whatever reason, but I hope very much that it will be accepted and I will get to appear publicly; I have a great deal to say about how my father was treated by the Salvation Army and would like the way he was treated to be heard widely.

I don’t know when a decision will be made about my application, but I will post when I find out.

More generally, I will be observing the Case Study 10 hearings with interest and hope to be able to comment upon them as events unfold.

Aletha Blayse


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2 Responses to My Application for Leave to Appear at Case Study 10 (Salvation Army) Hearings

  1. Denis Shepherd says:


    I’ve been reading a bit lately about the royal commission into child abuse (or whatever the hell it’s called) and have been saddened by the lack of understanding of the newspaper reports. They all seem to gloss over the one aspect of it all that continues on for every victim long after the actual abuse has finished. That, of course, being the post traumatic stress and even now, more than forty years after leaving the institution where I grew up, I still find it hard to trust men wearing black skirts with a cold gleam in their eyes and lechery in their hearts.

    At that school, long ago, Brother Gervase taught me that it’s a mortal sin to masturbate but it’s acceptable for an elderly man to fondle my genitals.

    And Brother Cletus stalked the dormitories at night ostensibly checking on the boys’ well being but literally “feeling” his way from bed to bed in the dark. Every dorm stank of urine because we all lost control of our bladders with fear as soon as we heard the squeak of the dormitory door opening and the scrape of his malformed foot on the timber floor. His particular enjoyment was to “squeeze” until you did what he wanted you to do to him ….. and then he left you there to clean yourself up on the sheets while the other boys, who had all heard what was going on, ignored you and left you to suffer the fear and the guilt and the shame all on your own.

    But I can’t blame those boys for that as sometimes it was me who ignored them when they needed MY help ……

    And other elderly men did a lot more to me, and Brother Silas controlled me by saying if I told anyone it would be a mortal sin and I’d burn in hell. I still have the scar on my finger where, to show me what it would be like in the afterlife if I told anyone what he had been doing to me, he burnt me with a match until the flame expired and nothing was left but the torment, the stench of charred flesh and the disgust of him and everything he stood for.

    They were old men then and certainly long dead and mouldering by now but if you ask me for names and times and places I can reel them all off as though it all happened yesterday. All the pain and humiliation, all the terror and despair. And the self hatred for all these years.

    It wasn’t my fault but it only took me a few decades to understand that.

    Gervase, Cletus and Silas ………. the holy trinity.

    Not “the” Holy Trinity of course, just a group of middle aged pedophiles who thought the school grounds were their own personal Sodom and Gomorrah wherein they disported themselves with all the abandon they could muster. Even the confessional in the school church wasn’t a safe place as old Father Wynne often helped himself to a boy or two, just for the sake of their redemption of course. And the irony is that all the perversion was going on within an edifice dedicated to the memory of a circumcised and delusional man who had himself nailed to a plank just so that his father would “forgive us our sins.”

    And that brings us to the subject of Hell, and its oft forgotten sidekick, Purgatory.

    Hell sounds bad enough, after all if Saint Peter sends you there it’s pretty well agreed that you’ll be there for all eternity so you can’t quibble about that. But Purgatory, however, is an entirely different ballgame wherein you’re only stuck there until all of your “sins” have been burnt out of you. So it’s very obvious that we’re all going to Purgatory anyhow as there’s no way we’ll be able to confess to every little sin we’ve committed throughout our miserable lives. You could plead for a general amnesty type scenario whereby everything is forgiven by some man in a black dress making the sign of the cross over you but this makes me ask ….. how can a fellow sinner forgive me my sins anyhow? Does he do the forgiving himself or does he do it by proxy for his invisible friend “up there” in heaven?

    Its all so confusing …… all I know is that I have absolutely no wish to float around on a gossamer cloud in heaven while whispering sweet nothings to that same invisible friend, I’d rather be trapped in the sulfurous pit for all eternity being alternately par boiled and char grilled and talking to interesting people with trespass on their minds and red-hot pitchforks gouged deep into their flesh.

    But if they have hot pointy objects buried in their flesh then it’s a fair chance that I’ll have them in my own flesh also and remembering that long ago lesson with Brother Silas, maybe thats not such a pleasant career move for all eternity and a performance, on second thoughts, that I’d rather avoid.

    I’ve realized lately that I’ve always lived my life by proxy and experienced sensations through other peoples experiences. But maybe thats what its like to grow older as day by day I let slip the pleasures of youth until all thats left is the husk of enjoyment as awareness dries up and perceptions wither. In my head, but not my heart, I’m alone, but I’ve always been alone and probably always will be and I’ve accepted that and I realized long ago that its possibly not such a bad thing. I can talk with people, work with them and occasionally allow them into my world but there’s always that divide, that distance that keeps us apart. I’m scared of getting close because I’m not going to expose myself to any sort of abuse again.

    And as I sit in my study alternately remembering events from long ago and typing on the keyboard in front of me, I hear the usual voices coming from the back room of the house ….. or are they in the back of my mind? I used to worry about them but not any more, all I know is they’re in the back there somewhere in the nether regions always ready to spring out at the slightest prompting be it a remembered sight or a sound or a smell. Its almost as though these memories, no matter what they are, trigger something within me that takes me back to where I was all those years ago. And when it happens I know its best to simply stay at home and let the world pass me by for a little while and spend some time getting to accept myself again.

    It seems to me after more than forty years thinking about it all and experiencing the post traumatic stress, that those carrion brothers weren’t just meddling with our bodies, they were training our minds. Its almost as if they knew the longer they abused us physically then the longer they would control us mentally. And they, Gervase, Cletus and Silas, that black-robed holy trinity, understood if they had us enough in our childhoods they would have us for our entire lives. They were training us to be good little churchgoers and thus just as mixed up and fucked up as they were but they had their religion to fall back on and the whole church edifice to protect them if their lecheries were exposed. In a sense they had their God, their invisible friend, on their side.

    And what do I and the other victims, have?

    Nothing …… except memories.

    Well I don’t believe in that invisible friend who all those heretics worship in churches, synagogues and mosques. Its all too confusing especially as those who defend one theology are usually those who have embraced just one belief while totally rejecting all other beliefs as complete nonsense.

    I do, however, believe in the members of the black-robed holy trinity who have been my constant companions for all these years.

    They’re behind me now, edging closer, and I can hear them sniggering …..

    Denis Shepherd, January 2014.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Dear Denis,
      I am so very, very sorry to hear of your experiences. I really don’t know what to say other than thank you for sharing your insights and experiences on this blog. You’re so right that there isn’t adequate coverage in the media of the long-term effects on a person’s life, and the devastation wrecked upon them from appalling childhood experiences. I hope this changes.
      All strength to you and I hope that there will be someone who will soon bridge the divide of which you speak.

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