Like many boys, Brent dreamed of excelling at sports and of one day representing New Zealand. He played cricket and rugby, but found his niche in table tennis. At age fifteen Brent traveled to a tournament in Auckland, where they were billeted at the home of a table tennis coach. The coach groomed Brent and then sexually abused him. Brent froze in terror, a biological reaction, but one that would plague him with self-blame for many years.
The next day, Brent roamed the streets of Auckland. Stunned and confused, he saw no option other than to stoically suppress what had happened. It would be 24 years before he reported it to the police.
Brent dreamed of meeting the right girl. He wanted a family. But as a young man he drank a lot and had many short term relationships. He never connected his reluctance to trust to what the coach had done to him, to the betrayal of his trust.
He found work in an apple orchard. More importantly he found a mentor in the owner’s father, a decorated WWII veteran, whose steadfastness has rubbed off onto Brent.
By his 30’s, the pressure from suppressing what had happened to him was unbearable. The man who abused him had become even more entrenched in the table tennis community, and Brent realized that he endangered other children. So he went to the police. He endured two years of delay as the police investigation proceeded, and it was grueling. But Brent endured. Another man who had been abused by the coach came forward, and the coach was convicted.
Brent kept a meticulous diary throughout the legal process, analyzing his own thoughts and emotions, and also his experience with the criminal justice system. He plans to use that experience to help other survivors, and perhaps even to improve the system itself.
“I was just watching from behind the scenes, but again it never crossed my mind to come forward… I guess I always [felt] like I was responsible for it.”