The mucky-mucks at National Defence Head Quarters must be really pleased with how extremely disinterested the media is with the topic of child sexual abuse that occurred on the bases in Canada.
I first had dealings with this reporter back in the summer of 2019. They seemed interested in the story, but they just couldn’t find the time. Other things kept popping up, other issues kept taking precedence.
This reporter, like many before them, laments the lack of people willing to come forward, or if they do come forward, they won’t go on camera and they won’t allow their names to be used.
And to be honest, this isn’t the first reporter that strung me along with a tenuous interest in the story that I had to tell.
For me it’s not that hard to understand why people would be unwilling to come forward and go on camera.
Back in the ’90s and even up to the mid 2000s, if you told me that I had been sexually abused, I probably would have told you to go fuck right off. There was no way on Earth that I was going to admit that I had been abused on CFB Namao and then again on CFB Downsview primarily at the Denison Armouries.
If you were a male military dependant, and you were buggered on base, you kept your damn mouth shut. When I was growing up on base, the general attitude was that only queers, fags, and homos took it up the ass. And yes, by the time my family was posted from Canadian Forces Base Greisbach to Canadian Forces Base Downsview, I fully understood what homosexuality was, and I fully understood from Terry that homosexuality was a mental illness and that I was going to get electroshock treatments at the Alberta Hospital if I kept it up. I was 9 when we moved to CFB Greisbach from CFB Namao. I was 12 when we left CFB Greisbach for CFB Downsview.
Terry was the “counsellor” that I started seeing after my arrival on CFB Greisbach. Terry was helping me to work though my attraction to other boys that I had exhibited when I was caught being buggered by a teen who was almost twice my age. It was August of 2011 when I learnt that “Terry” was actually Captain Terry Totzke, a military social worker with the Canadian Armed Forces. And I have no doubt that what Captain Terry Totzke was doing would in this day and age be called “conversion therapy”.
It was the military after all. It has been written that in the Canadian Forces men were sometimes buggered in an attempt to humiliate them or to “fix” disciplinary issues, or to simply “knock ’em down a peg or two”. After all, it seemed that as long as you were the person doing the buggering, you weren’t seen as being gay. If on the other hand you were the person being buggered, well that just opened up a whole can of worms.
When I had been sexually assaulted by Earl Ray Stevens while I lived on Canadian Forces Base Downsview, one of his threats was that if I ever told anyone that I would be kicked out of cadets. Even though I wouldn’t learn about CFAO 19-20 until around 2015 I fully understood that gays and lesbians were not welcome in the Canadian Forces. Somehow Earl knew that my father was in the Canadian Forces, and Earl would remind me that if I ever told anyone, that my father would find out, and that if my father found out there would be dire consequences. And after having lived through those consequences on Canadian Forces Base Greisbach, I didn’t want to live through those consequences again. So, I pleasured Earl whenever he wanted it. It was just easier that way. Besides, as Earl had quipped once or twice, that by giving me money it was a fair trade.
The more I wonder about Earl the more I wonder how many other children he molested on military bases during his career in the Canadian Armed Forces. After all, the first time he assaulted me, he wasn’t at all shy or coy about it. His hand didn’t accidentally brush against my crotch behind closed doors. He grabbed my crotch knowing full well what he was doing. He also knew that by my lack of response, that I was an easy mark.
Homophobia in the military back in the ’60s through ’80s was nothing new. It was just a reflection of the attitudes of society, but it was amplified via the machismo that is typical in military organizations. And unlike general society, the Canadian Forces filter out who gets in and who doesn’t. So after awhile the military becomes nothing but a massive echo chamber of like minded attitudes.
The official policy of the Canadian Forces towards gays and lesbians was dictated by Canadian Forces Administrative Order 19-20 which concluded that homosexuality was a “sexual abnormality” only further reinforced homophobic attitudes in the military and normalized these attitudes.
My father always had a warped sense of humour. But it was typical for the guys he hung out with. When we lived on Canadian Forces Base Downsview he asked me once if I knew what Gay stood for. I looked at him kinda puzzled. He replied with a laugh “Got Aids Yet”. Another time he asked if I knew what AIDS stood for. Again another puzzled look to which he replied “Anally Injected Death Sentence”.
And with homophobia being as wide spread in the Canadian Forces as it was back then, I wasn’t the only military dependant that had to endure it. How many male children on the bases were abused and kept their mouths shut due to the rampant homophobia in the military? We’ll probably never know. How many male children ended up committing suicide due to their abuse on base and the fear of being labelled “gay” or “queer”? Again, we’ll probably never know.
I’ve submitted Access to Information Requests to DND looking for any type of studies that DND may have undertaken to look at the lives of military dependants. There never were any. And this makes sense, after all we were nothing more that DF&E.
Another problem that reporters with the media seem to have understanding is that there is no directory of military dependants. The Canadian Armed Forces keep absolutely no records of us aside from possibly our birth certificates in our serving parent’s file.
There are many groups on Facebook for former military dependants. But these groups seem to be filled with brats who came from functional families and who didn’t encounter any abnormal issues while they lived on base. Myself, I wouldn’t be in any of these groups if it wasn’t for my desire to find other former brats who had problems on base.
Some of the brats that I know are only in one group out of the many groups on Facebook for base brats. And they’re usually only in the one particular group because they were looking for someone very specific.
There is a department manager where I work. This manger runs one of the larger and more important departments at this operation. This manager had Googled my name a few years ago and had discovered my blog. This manger pulled me aside and confided in me that they too had been a military dependant and they too had been sexually abused on base. But this manger asked me to never divulge to anyone that they had been a military dependant. They said that they were ashamed of having been a dependant and that they didn’t want anyone at work to judge them based upon their childhood.
In my professional life, when I’m asked where I’m from and where I grew up, I just say my birth province. It’s far much easier that way.
Until the media step up to the plate and start actively looking for these other sexually abused military dependants, none will come forward.
And I think sadly this is the last reporter that I will ever be able to approach about this topic as the people whom I’ve placed this reporter in contact with have asked for me to stop giving their contact information out as these reporters never want to listen to what they’re being told, and these reporters keep pressing these other former military dependants to allow their names and faces to be used.
One former dependant was all ready to go a couple of years ago, but the reporter running with the story back then reneged on their promise of allowing this other victim to use an alias and to sit behind a screen while the interview was being conducted. This other reporter assured this other military dependant that their face would be pixelated during the post process. However, this meant that there would be a video recording of this dependant’s face.
A lot of former military dependants that I’ve spoken with are literally terrified of the Canadian Forces. Very little, if anything was done for them when they were abused. Some, but not all, came from dysfunctional homes where the father was abusive and the base MPs would often turn a blind eye.
And some, like me, would go on into their adult lives believing what they had been told when they were children living on the various Canadian Forces Bases. That they were responsible for what had happened, that they liked what had happened because they let it go on for so long, and that they had a mental illness because they were having sex with other boys twice their age.
It kept us silent.
The media’s deafness ensures our silence stays in place.