Gerard McCann is a noted Fremantle architect – one of the famed Fremantle School.
In his early professional days he worked closely with the renowned Brian Klopper.
While Gerard grew up and was schooled in the Western Suburbs, he found his way to Freo because it was the place where he most felt at home.
What people didn’t know was that Gerard, from the age of 10, was sexually abused by the local parish priest, a friend of the family.
He has now written a manuscript – titled Tell Me The Story about his experience with sexual abuse and its aftermath, which has been shortlisted for the 2022 City of Fremantle Hungerford Prize for an unpublished manuscript sponsored by the City of Fremantle and Fremantle Press. The Award will be announced at a big event on 20 October 2022.
Gerard says the manuscript began as a recollection of events, but soon developed into a wider and deeper analysis of the effects of his childhood sexual abuse. The process of writing also became the conduit for deeply repressed memories and trauma to surface and was a cathartic process. This developed into a further exploration of the profound disempowerment that abuse trauma triggers, and his own life story in the wake of these effects.
Through therapy and consciousness-raising, the narratorial voice of ‘victim’ slowly yielded to one of a more separate, but empathic, observer. This led to a different exploration of the places and people of Gerard’s childhood, a journey that unearthed so many other boys who had been abused by the same priest.
Parallel with this process was Gerard’s journey to seek justice.
A good part of the manuscript describes this stop-start journey, that of a ‘disempowered person’, to pursue the Catholic Church for some remedy, which might equate to justice.
The text also explores at length the effect on a family of the sexual abuse of its children, the disintegration of the lives that follow, and the extraordinary ripples that radiate out for generations.
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Gerard McCann kindly met with our editor, Michael Barker, to discuss Tell Me The Story and the writing of the manuscript.
Here’s the podcast interview.