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Child Sexual Abuse Survivor Stories

Koffels Solicitors and Barristers spoke to Glynda Webster about what gave her the courage to come forward with her story of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a music teacher at Ringwood Technical College, Heathmont VIC, in the 1970s. She spoke about the fear, confusion and shame but how, many years later, Koffels gave her the kindness and strength to draw on, to keep going and to make it possible to talk about her abuse for the first time in decades.

In this video, Justin shares his powerful story of overcoming the abuse he experienced at Perth’s prestigious Scotch College in the late 70s and early 80s. Through connecting with the inner hero he imagined as a child, Justin found the courage to come forward and hold the institution accountable for its wrongdoing. He shares how the compensation process changed his life and how Koffels Solicitors’ work helped him become the person he was meant to be.

Nathan is a survivor of abuse at Saint Stanislaus in Bathurst and in foster care around NSW. He felt Ross Koffel made him feel heard, and without being heard you’ll never really heal.

Stephen Masters suffered through The Home of Horrors at Daruk Boys Home. He feels the compensation process helped him feel recognised, and he can vouch for the positive impact that this has had on all his relationships.

Having survived child sexual abuse at the hands of the infamous Errol Swain, Chris Wallington talks about how the compensation process changed his life and relationships for the better.

Nick Bovy is a survivor of child sexual abuse at Knox Grammar School in Sydney, and through the compensation process found “a sense of justice and recompense”.

While attending The Scots College in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, a so-called elite private school, I was abused by a teacher while on a school camp in Central Australia. I am not sure why, but I did not tell anybody about the abuse and still, my family does not know. The abuse itself was not physically traumatic, but the emotional effect turned out to be much more significant. Upon returning from the camp, I started to withdraw from school life – I stopped playing my favourite sports and no longer participated in classroom activities. Convinced that I was incapable of academic success and sensing that something must be different about me, I left school in year 10 with very low confidence and with the belief that I was incapable of success.

Survivors of sexual abuse are confronted with their own set of unique challenges – for me, it is social anxiety. Both socially and professionally, I find it very difficult to be part of and engage in small and large groups of people. Attending meetings and parties can be a source of immense dread and physical anxiety. The inability to think clearly and to breathe with ease in these situations can be crippling. This is something I still struggle with 35 years later.

When I first approached Koffels for advice regarding compensation for the abuse that I experienced, I was very apprehensive. I did not want to embark on a multi-year legal case that was not guaranteed to be successful. Plus, I was also concerned about the emotional and financial expense the experience might cause.

Upon reflecting on my experience with Koffels and Marea Hickie in particular, what stands out the most is their immense empathy for my feelings and emotions during each stage of the legal case. I felt like their empathy was sincere and genuine. In addition to this, all decisions that were to be made throughout the case were presented to me and were ultimately up to me to make – I never felt any pressure from Koffels at all. Marea was also very mindful of my social anxiety, something for which I am very grateful.

If you are a survivor of sexual abuse and you are considering embarking on this journey, based on my personal experience, I would highly recommend Koffels. I would also be happy to discuss my experience with you in greater detail if need be.

David Allen What stands out the most is Koffels' immense empathy for my feelings and emotions during each stage of the legal case.

I’ve been reflecting on the day spent together and all that it entailed.

It occurred to me that our two professions have quite a few similarities. We are dealing with people who are at their most vulnerable at a truly pivotal moment in their lives. There has been so much preparation for the event, and then, here it is.

There is an enormous amount at stake for those being assisted, and they are jumping into the unknown.

I am beyond appreciative of what you have done for me.

I always felt completely informed and supported. I did not feel judged at any point. To the contrary.

You were always professional and patient, steady and calm.

All of which enabled me to travel this path which had always felt impossible.

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Kirstie Professional and patient, steady and calm

I am another victim of child abuse. At the age of 10, the person to whom I was entrusted for a safe education was also a serial abuser. The school that I attended tried to hide this person by transferring him to a different school. Unfortunately, this only further enabled him until he finally resigned and disappeared into anonymity.

Like many others, I buried this abuse and got on with life, until a chance meeting at an old boys’ reunion revealed the full extent of what he had done and the terrible consequences his abominable actions had caused to so many other children.

After 50 years, this man was finally bought to justice. He pleaded guilty to all the charges against him (18 in all, though how many others remained silent or have passed away remains a mystery).

I sought redress through the Federal Government’s redress scheme and waited several years with no communication whatsoever during that time. Frustration at the lack of action, reminiscent of what happened 50 years ago and a desire to see some form of change in the bias of the system that favoured the big institutions left me with two choices: to remain silent and carry the burden as I have been doing for many decades or to seek help.

Koffels law firm and Marea Hickie in particular, were exceptional in their efforts to facilitate this. I was treated with sincerity and compassion. The channels of communication were always open. Marea constantly reassured me of the validity of what I was doing and the justice for others that will hopefully result from my and others’ similar actions.

Hopefully, this testimonial will encourage and enable others to come forward and lend their stories and actions to facilitate a much-needed change and provide clarity on the crimes that have been hidden by institutions for decades and have left many victims depressed, mentally scarred and socially isolated.

Peter McMullan

After 34 years of bearing the pain of physical, verbal and sexual abuse internally, I come across some articles about sexual abuse survivors. What these victims had expressed resonated strongly with me.

I could totally relate to their stories and the actions they finally took to resolve the pain that they had been harbouring.

With some confidence reading these stories, I took a leap of faith and reached out to Koffels Lawyers and very glad I did.

The discussions with Koffels were very assuring to me (pleasant) Anytime I had a question or called Koffels, my calls were taken or returned every time.

Part of the process was documenting the events, something I’d never done before. Other people (Koffels) now knew the events and were reassuring compassionate, and understanding.

Having completed the statement, I felt a massive weight actually, 34 years of pain and suppression were lifted off my shoulders.

I was still hesitant and a little guarded, not looking forward nor ready to get dragged through the legal system, which I know is complex and exhausting.

Koffels simplified everything I had no stress they took control and managed the case in its entirety at no costs. It took some time, though after waiting 34 years, time is something I had.

Throughout, Koffels provided clear guidance all the way. I’m extremely satisfied with all the aspects of the engagement with Koffels through to the mediation and settlement.

Going through this has changed my life for the better, and I’m extremely grateful for the professionalism, the simplicity in how this was managed, and, not least, the guidance Koffels provided and the financial settlement they negotiated.

Life Changing!

It is without reservation I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Koffles and would be happy to speak with anyone who has any hesitation in taking that leap for a better life.

Thank you kindly

Allan Wells Life Changing

To do and to teach

That’s the motto of the once-great order of the Christian Brothers.

A school I first attended in 1977, a year of two seismic events that took place in my life as a 10-year-old boy in grade five.

The first was the death of Elvis Presley and the second was the sexual abuse and trauma I received whilst attending a Christian Brothers school in Sydney during that same year.
Whilst conspiracy theories denial and wishful thinking still exist to this very day on what happened to the king of rock and roll there can be no doubt of what happened to me.

Unable to cope and completely overwhelmed with the effects of the catastrophic abuse I was subjected to by a Christian brother whom I trusted, I almost immediately and permanently turned my back on people close to me that loved me and had been involved in my life until that stage, my parents, grandparents, elderly neighbours who had all played such pivotal roles in my life, the pain and unnecessary anguish I must have caused to those people now all deceased.

Swimming in a sea of addiction for the rest of my life, I struggled in life with terribly low self-esteem, self-medicating via alcohol and cigarettes and left a litany of broken interpersonal relationships.

I approached Kofells Solicitors & Barristers after being offered a substantial figure by the national redress scheme, and thus began a further two-year fight to correct the injustices of the past.

Running a case of this nature I learnt for the first time of my injuries that I picked up in 1977 of severe PTSD, double depression, and anxiety which only confirms that bad things happen in threes, all of which I added to my existing chronic health issues primarily caused by a life of self-destruction.

I was firstly represented at Kofells by Mr Greg Choat and then by Special Counsel Ms Marea Hickie, the professionalism and non-judgemental leadership of these dedicated professionals especially Marea who had to put up with me and took over for the majority of the case was highly commendable.

Despite facing strong headwinds and stormy seas throughout my case, my legal team cut through the disingenuous unnecessary litigation road blocks and tactics employed to achieve justice for me and perhaps justice for all those hurt along the way.

Michael – Attended a Christian Brothers school 1977-1984

Michael Professionalism and non-judgemental leadership of dedicated professionals

Marea Hickie and the team at Koffels provide a high level of service whilst striving to get the best possible result.
The team members are professional and supportive. Koffels fights to achieve maximum compensation. The no win no fee arrangement made the impossible possible. Highly recommended

Elijah The no win no fee arrangement made the impossible possible

After finely getting the courage up to speak to someone about what I had been through im dealing with it a bit better thanks for the help.

Anonymous I'm dealing with it a bit better thanks for the help

Thank you very much for all the hard work you and your Team have done over the past 3 years. As an abuse survivor at the hands of the Marist Brother’s at Penshurst, you and your Team walked me through the most difficult time of my life. Although it is a long protracted legal process, you must be 100% committed all the way. Koffels always kept me up to date and explained everything in a way I could understand clearly. Mediation was confronting, however the payout I received has restarted my life. I would highly recommend Koffels and as there is NO statute of limitations on historical child sexual assault, now is the time to take action. Just remember, the Catholic Church are liable!. Thank you.

Anonymous Your Team walked me through the most difficult time of my life

Thank you for all the legal expertise throughout the time you have acted for me, I feel lucky to have experienced the efforts with your expert firm. I know you will go on to help many other people and improve many more life’s. Koffels Solicitors are truly Extraordinary.

Michael Koffels Solicitors are truly Extraordinary.

Thank you Ross.  Fantastic team to work throughout my claim.  Very supportive and very happy with the result.

Sean Fantastic team to work throughout my claim. 

As a former student at Knox Grammar I really appreciate the firm’s efforts in obtaining justice for all the boys abused at that vile institution. I was lucky that I was big and strong and able to resist the violent threats that many of we students endured from the masters.  I wish you all the very best in this worthy fight.

Anonymous Violent threats that many of we students endured from the masters

Dear Ross

I would sincerely like to thank the team at Koffels Solicitors & Barristers, and particularly Stephen Dixon for the care and the delicacy in which they handled my matter.

After testifying at the Royal commission and then letting my brothers know what I had done (we all attended the same school) they encouraged me to take further action. I mentioned this to my wife who backed and supported me. She had seen firsthand the psychological, physical and emotional scars from the events during my childhood schooling, and we were referred to yourself as having specialised experience in the matters arising from institutional childhood sexual abuse.

At the very beginning I was tentative. Not knowing what to expect, nor having the confidence that I would be heard. After our first meeting with both yourself and Stephen, you outlined a plan and a timeline as to what to expect. Even with both yourselves and Stephen’s confidence in the matter, after my experience as a child, my background instincts would kick in. I would second guess if what I was doing was the right thing to do, and if I would come out the outer end unscathed. I would wonder what people would think of me and if others such as my old ‘alma mater’ would find out.

All of my worries were to no avail. Every step of the process was thoroughly explained; when Stephen would call or touch base it would be in a caring fashion as he helped me to navigate the path. As favourable the final outcome was, it is only one part of my journey of recovery. There is still a long way to go. I am very happy with how your team handled my situation, and if there are ever others who are faced with this predicament I am more than happy to help and assist in talking to them in order to put their mind at ease

With gratitude

Anonymous Every step of the process was thoroughly explained; when Stephen would call or touch base it would be in a caring fashion...

I sought some advice for a friend regarding savings held in an overseas account and it’s implications under the new [CRS] Common Reporting Standard. I had the good fortune to stumble across Jess Hui’s contact online. Jess was able to put my mind at rest, being fully fluent in all recondite aspects of the new global bank data sharing initiatives. Answers to my questions were given out concisely and thoughtfully, mindful of any extended contingencies not covered in my original questions. Full marks Jess and thanks again.

Anonymous Jess was able to put my mind at rest, being fully fluent in all recondite aspects of the new global bank data sharing initiatives.

A big thank you to Ross and the team.  Great support and understanding of the nature of my claim.  Fantastic service.

Anonymous Great support and understanding of the nature of my claim.

“No-one wants to have to start a legal matter…but if you’re going to go down that road, I would certainly recommend Koffels for such sensitive matters. I first met with Ross where we discussed what had happened and got his feedback and advice as to where this would go and how we could proceed. I got the feeling that he and I were in this together and that he would do his very best for a successful outcome. If there were any doubts (legally) about the success of the matter, Ross explained them to me so I could be involved in the decision process (as to whether there was a case and the likelihood of success). Later I met with members of his team to go through strategies and what I had to do. At all points of the process it was my decision as to how much I could contribute. My matter was deeply emotional but at all stages, the team was sensitive to my plight. They had very effective resources at their disposal and I met with psychiatrists to get to the heart of my matter. Towards the end of the case, they did their very best to get the maximum benefit for me and they definitely achieved this goal. Many thanks to Ross and the team at Koffels.”

Matthew I would certainly recommend Koffels for such sensitive matters.

I would recommend Koffels to anyone.  Ross and his team did a great job which resulted in a fantastic outcome.

Anonymous I would recommend Koffels to anyone.

Ross, a big thank you to you and the team.  Couldn’t have got through it without your support and care.

Anonymous Ross, a big thank you to you and the team.

Thank you for all the hard work to Ross and his personal injury team.  A thorough job with a good result.

Anonymous A thorough job with a good result.

As Edmund Burke said “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. So when I saw you being interviewed on the 7.30 Report by Leigh Sales I knew we would not be silent any longer I knew you were our man when I saw you interviewed as you seemed ‘to get it’. I rang Koffels the next day, received a positive response from your office and an interview was promptly arranged. From the very first time we met you we were treated with respect, compassion and patience. We felt we were taken seriously. Even though we only met a few times in person throughout the two year process we felt well supported and informed. All Koffels staff were polite, prompt and professional. I know that no win no pay lawyers sometimes have a poor reputation in the community but without this form of arrangement average citizens are often without recourse to justice from the law as costs are so prohibitive. Many friends suggested we should go to a more prominent firm and that ‘no win no pay lawyers’ are somehow second rate outfits. Your firm is a champion for the underdog. The Church is a legal, financial and political juggernaut with seemingly unlimited resources. A David and Goliath battle if you will. Litigious action seems to get a bad rap with the public however there was no other legal vehicle by which to hold the Church/Marist Brothers to account.

We found Frank Tuscano to be a fabulous champion to have on our side. We only met him once in his chambers one week prior to the mediation but we liked him immediately. He was straight talking, friendly, reassuring and having a strong command of the brief. Everything that he said would happen came to fruition, all as he predicted it would. We are fans of Frank. What a wonderful, skilled advocate to have fighting the good fight.

Stephen Dixon was also a wonderful advocate. He was calm, patient, accessible and compassionate. He was always measured, reliable and knowledgeable. We appreciated his wise advice and counsel. Kayla Lance was also ever gracious.

John and I were also impressed with the mediation process. Richard Weinstein oozed confidence, professionalism and humanity within a formal process. We knew instantly he could be trusted. Thus it was not surprising that with all you wonderful advocates that the day concluded with such a magnificent outcome with a minimum of trauma. It really felt like a moral victory, with good triumphing over evil and the truth prevailing.

You are all to be congratulated on the outcome which is a significant financial outcome for us, more than we had hoped for. The money has been shared with Peter’s family. We remain deeply indebted to you all and have appreciated the kindnesses shown to us. You cannot really know how much this ‘win’ has meant to us personally, to allow the matter to pass peacefully into history. The story has come full circle to an ending that seems right and just.

We will certainly recommend your firm’s services to any other child sex abuse victims that we may encounter particularly as the criminal matter unfolds. Thank you Ross, we wish you all good health and prosperity at Koffels. You can be rightly proud of your people.

John and Christine Odell From the very first time we met you we were treated with respect, compassion and patience.

No one wants to see a Lawyer but when I spoke to Ross about the nature of my claim, I immediately felt at ease and knew that he was the right person to represent me.  Thank you Ross and the team, extremely happy with the result.

Anonymous I immediately felt at ease.

To whom it may concern,

Koffels successfully represented me on a Damages Claim that we placed against an Institution that was remiss in their legal duties. The damage I sustained was a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, that has affected the prior 30 years of my adult life, unchecked. To add to my woes, subconsciously I had placed myself in a state of denial to the harms and atrocities that I was subjected to while in attendance at the school as a boy. There is no denying that the emotional stress encountered when I first raise my grievances and through the process of legal redress, was exhaustive, but necessary for me to experience the full benefit of confirming the harm caused to me by others, within the context of a legal setting. Throughout the matter, the Koffels Team gave me clear understanding of my legal rights, clear direction on the legal processes that needed to be followed, they were always sensitive of my concerns and they enabled me to have access to experts in associated disciplines to my needs. These are the deciding factors in our realising the successful outcome that we did, the benefit of which is the creation of closure on the matter for me. The gratitude I hold for the Koffels Team, for their professionalism and expertise on this matter is beyond words and I subsequently provide for you, my strongest recommendation to engage with their services if your need should arrive.

Anonymous I subsequently provide for you, my strongest recommendation to engage with their services.

Submit Your Review or Testimonial Here

If you or someone close to you has had experience of being represented by Koffels Solicitors & Barristers, and you’d like to share that experience, we’d like to hear about it. You can use the form here to submit a written review or to indicate if you’d be happy to do an audio or video review.