This story is a tale of love, betrayal, and a secret.
The secret is about sexual abuse committed by an Anglican Priest in Queensland, Australia. The victim was a teenager at the time. Now grown and married, a curious juxtaposition of events leads him to tell his wife, and then to confront his church, his mother, and eventually his abuser.
And a warning, the program contains confronting material that could be disturbing for some listeners.
Heather Stewart is a Walkley-award winning journalist and nominee. She has been a journalist for 20 years, including almost a decade with the ABC in news and current affairs and then started covering content for ABC Radio National in 2006. She is completing her Phd at the University of Queensland and working on long-form radio documentaries. She currently works as the Media Manager for Linc Energy in Brisbane, Australia.
BEHIND THE SCENES with Heather Stewart
How did you find this story…or did the story find you?
I was approached by the family to tell the story when I was presenting as a guest speaker for the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance about anotherWalkley nominated documentary of mine.
After a lifetime of shielding himself from these very painful memories, the main character talks very forthrightly and articulately about what happened and how he feels about it, as does his wife. How difficult was it to get their stories….or did they want to talk about it?
We worked together for two years at the family's pace. Sometimes we recorded the same subject matter a number of times until they felt they had articulated their story the way they wanted to.
This is a story of so many things. Crime and trauma, suffering and pain but at the same time, redemption and hope. You lived with this story for a long time. What did you take away from it and did it change the way you think in any way?
Every time I drove away from interviewing this beautiful family I cried. It is one of the most inspiring stories I have ever covered. I learned so much about compassion, humility and grace and am indebted to them for having the courage to come forward to share their story so others might benefit from it. I am honoured they trusted me to tell it. This project was never about me. I am just grateful I was able to give them a voice and thank the ABC and Claudia Taranto for ensuring I could do this with integrity and the best practice editorial sense that is provided in the ABC Radio National setting
In truth it was the hardest story I have ever covered. I picture this little boy who trusted an adult being violated by that adult and it breaks my heart and carrying the terrible secret of this abuse into adulthood. I am inspired by this man's view of the world despite this tragic experience in his childhood. I am in awe of the relationship the family has, and their acceptance of this man's past that no one should have to endure.