Friday, May 18, 2012

Rainbow Bird and Monster Man

If you ever get the opportunity to view "The Rainbow Bird and Monster Man",  a 2002 Australian documentary film, directed by Dennis K Smith, telling the story of Tony Lock's childhood as a victim of sexual abuse and his attempts as an adult to escape his tortured past, please do not let the opportunity go past.

Any therapist involved in treating people who were subject to sexual abuse, or, treating those with alcoholism, drug abuse and mental illness, should regard this documentary film as compelling and obligatory viewing.

Synopsis: The story begins with Tony recalling himself as a child in the 1960s at the age of four, coming from an aloof family in Trentham, Victoria. Tony's father was an agricultural labourer who suffered from alcoholism. Tony, without an older male role model, originally felt warm attachment to the other main figure in the film, his father's workmate and drinking friend Gordon Kerr. Then on one night Gordon - who was to be looking after the child - raped Tony. Tony and his younger brother continued to be sexually assaulted by Gordon for the following ten years until his parents unexpectedly saw this for themselves and were forced to acknowledge what was happening.
Tony and his brother were then sent away to live with family in Melbourne. For the following years Tony seemed to be living a normal, happy life and seemed to put his past behind him. However, as Tony aged into his twenties he lost his job and drifted in a life of alcoholism and drug abuse. Tony then once again escaped, this time to go to Western Australia to come clean.
After hearing radio reports of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Tony realised he was too traumatised by his past to forget. On recommendation of a social worker, Tony returned to his hometown in 1995 to have Gordon charged. Despite having a confession from Gordon himself, the police refused to initiate criminal proceedings. One night soon afterwards Tony became psychotic and pleaded for the police to detain him so he would not harm himself or anyone else. The police ignored Tony, who then went to Gordon's home to confront him. Tony was holding an axe for self defense as he knocked on Gordon's door. After Gordon opened the door to point a gun at him, Tony then proceeded to strike Gordon as he pointed the gun away.
Tony was charged with murder to be convicted of manslaughter at his request in 1996. As he already served his sentence in custody before being convicted, Tony was released immediately afterwards. The film concludes in 2002 with Tony, who, while functioning in a comparatively normal life, still remains frequently traumatised by his experiences. A disturbing film that nonetheless challenges taboos, it highlights the reluctance for authorities and sometimes even families to confront sexual abuse as well as the devastating impact it has on victims' lives.


AstridsSoapbox said...

There are too many instances of child sexual abuse..sometimes it's hard to get your head around it all. Just finished reading Oranges & Sunshine about just that subject matter. There are adults in this world who have a lot to answer for when their time comes.

JohnD said...

So True - I must look up that Oranges and Sunshine book.

The Elephant's Child said...

Many of the calls I take at Lifeline are harrowing (and rightly so) but calls relating to child abuse are ones I find very hard indeed.