Survivors encouraged to come forward

The dates for hearing evidence about abuse at Christchurch’s Marylands School, co-located St Joseph’s Orphanage and the Hebron Trust have been announced by the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care.

The Commission is encouraging survivors to come forward, as is St John of God survivor, Darryl Smith.

Smith says his traumatic story with St John of God began at age 7.

“It started when Brother Keane, a school teacher at Marylands, kept me back in class.

“Older boys and some staff came along too”, said Smith.

He told CathNews that the abuse was not carried out by just one brother.

Br Roger (Moloney), at the time, head of the Order in New Zealand, called him to his office, seemingly to take a call from his grandmother.

Smith said there was no phone call from his grandmother, there was no phone call at all but he was very seriously abused.

Smith says he does not understand how the Order moved these men around knowing for years what they were doing. He says he does not accept the Order’s claims it was the done thing at the time.

“What a load of rubbish”, he said. “The done thing, the Christian thing is to protect a child”, he told CathNews.

Later in the 1970’s Smith moved to Australia where he was again in the care of the St John of God brothers, and again he was very seriously abused.

“How’s that, abused by the same brothers both sides of the Tasman”, said Smith wryly.

Smith told CathNews that the serious abuse conducted by the St John of brothers began during the formative time in his life, so much so, that for many years he did not know what was right or wrong.

“Between 1984 to 2009 I spent a lifetime in and out of Prison because of the evil I suffered”, he said.

However, in 2010 his life started to change and he began the long road of healing.

“I started doing artwork to heal myself and learnt from that.

“At a comparatively late stage of life, I began to understand the difference between right and wrong”.

In 2012 he held his first art exhibition entitled “My New Journey”.

Darryl Smith, Artist

Now the author of several books, Smith’s first book is the story of his shattered life at the hands of the St John of God brothers.

Smith is the New Zealand Ambassador for the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, a role he takes seriously.

While he is writing a report on the Hospitaller Order of St John of God in New Zealand to be presented to the Royal Commission and is appearing in front of the Royal Commission at the February hearing, he also asks that other survivors consider joining him.

Smith’s encouragement is echoed by General manager of investigations for the Royal Commission, Tom Powell.

“We want to hear from as many survivors as possible, so we have a comprehensive picture as to what happened at these organisations.”

Ken Clearwater, a founding trustee of Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse told Stuff that said survivors carry shame, disgust and guilt, and are often labelled liars, so he takes his hat off to anyone brave enough to share their story.

Powell told Suff that the commission had wellbeing wraparound support for anyone who wanted to share their experiences, but he recognised how difficult it was.

Catherine Fyfe, chair of Te Rōpū Tautoko – the group coordinating Catholic engagement with the Royal Commission – says:  Tautoko has “been working with the Royal Commission to ensure that our response has been as timely and comprehensive as possible, to honour those harmed at Marylands.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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