TWO teachers told a parliamentary inquiry into child sexual abuse by religious organisations that their careers had been destroyed for trying to expose offenders.
Anne Ryan resigned from a 25-year career while Michael Crowe hasn't worked since 2010 for trying to report inappropriate behaviour by a parish priest.
Ms Ryan said her entire career had been spent teaching in the Ballarat diocese until she began to have concerns about sexual abuse.She complained to the then Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns - who she said described paedophilia as an "illness" - and representative Catholic bodies, but was ignored.
"Due to the inaction within the church, I began to use my voice more publicly," Ms Ryan said."I contacted Broken Rites, I wrote letters to the editor, I even went on a Four Corners program to try to raise the issue.
"In 1996, both the principal and the parish priest of my school actively threatened my position if I continued my activities in the public domain."
Ms Ryan said she attended the inquiry to speak for the boys she taught.
"I am their voice. Hopefully we are moving towards peace, justice and some kind of recovery.
"Why did they not hear the depth and enormity of what was taking place? Why did they not act to protect young children who had no voice? Why did they respond so coldly to my efforts? I still wonder at the silence of the Catholic community."
Ms Ryan said Bishop Mulkearns was also "not on the same page as people who needed help".
"I think that they (the church) think they are beyond the law.
"They never had any intention of taking (complaints) to the police. Bishop Mulkearns classed it as an illness.
"He really wasn't aware of the enormity of the actions. I visited the bishop to make him aware of this stuff and he just resisted everything I had to say."
Mr Crowe said he caught a priest inappropriately touching a student in 2010 and tried to report it but was ignored.
"There is no support and protection for Catholic whistleblowers in the system. The organisation is corrupt from the top down."
His wife Carol said their children had changed schools three times and they had to sell their house because it was too close to the original school.
"There is a sense of disgust at what's happened to us," Mrs Crowe said.
Abuse survivors yesterday also spoke at the inquiry, with many breaking down in tears. Peter Blenkiron said he had battled suicidal thoughts playing like a stereo in his head, telling him he was worthless.
"But the more support you get, the more the volume goes down," Mr Blenkiron said yesterday.
He also called for concrete outcomes from the review to stop more suicides or early deaths caused by drug and alcohol abuse.
"The reality is, if we don't put something in place to stop these deaths, the bubble of hope created around us will burst and and suicides will go through the roof," Mr Blenkiron said.
Mr Blenkiron told the bipartisan Family and Community Development Committee he not only froze in fear when he was abused at 11 but his emotional state froze too.
He said when he finally broke down it was like "an avalanche knocked me into oblivion".
Mr Blenkiron said he turned the corner about 18 months ago due to the support of his wife and family, other victims, the Ballarat community and even some clergy.
"Without all that support I'd be dead."
Fellow survivor Keith Whelan said he was raped at a Catholic school in Nunawading in 1972, and the smell of his abuser's cologne can still trigger flashbacks today.
"I was only asking for help but he took advantage of me. He stole my soul in a brutal act," Mr Whelan said.
He changed schools after he told his mother what had happened, only to find himself holding off a teacher with a broom just for walking up behind him.
"Unknowingly, I had changed. I started living so people don't know your weaknesses. The braver I had to be, the more trouble I got into."
Mr Whelan reported the abuse but was told his attacker was already in jail and didn't even remember him.
Stephen Woods told the committee had was repeatedly bashed, molested and raped by three clergy friends of his family from when he was 11 until 14, along with two of his brothers.
"These sex crimes didn't happen over years, or over decades, they happened over generations," Mr Woods said.
He said reporting one of his abusers, Brother Edward Dowlan, also resulted in him being harassed by the church.
"His lawyers would harass the victims by calling them up and asking if they were sure they wanted to continue with the charges. Until they got to me and I told them I would get my father's chainsaw and teach them a lesson they wouldn't forget.
"But this is what happens when you go up against an organisation like the church, they harass you."
Mr Woods' sister Anne Murray said one of her brothers, Anthony, died from AIDS at 33.
Anthony was repeatedly raped by Father Gerald Ridsdale in a tent on a school camp, which continued on their return to Ballarat.
"He was a beautiful, beautiful, creative musical boy," Ms Murray said. "But the pain and trauma was evident in his lifestyle. The pain in his life played out in an absolute mess."
Ms Murray said her other brother Martin resisted penetration but paid for it with vicious beatings. When he was psychologically assessed in 1995, his level of disturbance was higher than Vietnam veterans.
She also called for the church to become a legal entity so it could be hit where it hurts, in the purse strings.
Andrew Collins said he was abused for a year when he was 14 at St Patrick's College but tried to cover it up by becoming a workaholic.
However, media coverage of his attacker's trial, business problems and his son starting secondary school all triggered severe depression and suicide attempts.
"My brain just doesn't work most times. Some days I struggle to get out of bed. I've reached the point in life where I can't see any hope," Mr Collins said.
"I deal with it by waking up in the morning and putting on a mask. Some days I can't put the mask on, some days I still feel better off not being here."
Tim Lane and his five siblings were all abused by one offender, with one of his brothers committing suicide at 19.
"That scumbag targeted us one by one, never together. Six kids, three girls, three boys," Mr Lane said.
"Kid's thoughts which are pure, fun and innocent were all replaced by filthy images of an evil scumbag."
Robert Walsh, who broke down sobbing, said he wanted the suicides, pain and suffering to stop while Paul Tatchell, who fought back against his attackers and often won while boarding at St Patrick's College, said he had never kissed his children for fear of breaking down.
"We've all seen broken women and we all cry but when a man breaks, he breaks in a big way and doesn't always come back together in the same way.
"Every time I see a broken man I think of one more fight I need to have."