Read My Story

My Healing Picture

My Healing Picture

‘Be Kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle – Plato’

I have been sitting here wondering how to best start telling my story.  To be honest my adventures have been very therapeutic for me.  I kept my secret for 40 years and it was only since 2011 that I have started sharing my story.

I was sexually abused in the Navy at Sydney’s HMAS Nirimba, a naval training base in the early 1970’s when I was 16 years old.  After the months of abuse I thought I had no other way out and I tried to commit suicide.

Since I have started to share my story I have worked with Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Solicitors and the Government appointed DART (Defence Abuse Response Taskforce).  I have shared my story with Australian Newspapers and with the television show The Project.  I can guarantee that I am not the only victim of this form of abuse, living with the torment of PTSD.

I still continue to share my story.  It may be a story that people ‘don’t want to hear’ but I believe that we should stand up and speak out against the abuse to children, unite and say ‘STOP’.

The link below is an article written by David Wroe at Sydney Morning Herald with a call for a Royal Commission into Defence Abuse.

Australian Defence Force rape victims 40 year secret

You can watch me on the Project with the link below

The Project – Ken Mcilwain

When I told my daughters of the abuse they asked me many questions through the process – two of which have stuck with me.  One daughter asked me ‘Why keep it a secret Dad? Wouldn’t holding onto the secret cause more hurt for yourself?”  and another daughter asked “Why did you give up Dad?”

Now, my girls know me very well and while they grew up I always had an open door policy.  They could always tell me anything, no matter how good or bad, whether I would be happy or disappointed.  It was always better to tell me than to keep the secret.  I am also a very dedicated adventure man; Ultra-marathons, Ironman, long distance swimmer and trekker, so you can imagine my girls have never seen me give up no matter how tough the event.  You can see how both questions have stuck with me.

In answering my daughter’s questions, I wrote these three short pieces to help explain why I kept the abuse a secret for so long and why I did give up at one point.




Although sometimes difficult I can talk about my past now so don’t be afraid to ask questions.  If you find parts of my story that brings up troubling feelings within yourself there are links to websites below that can help.

If you need help:

Life line

Living Well

Living Well Contact

If a MAN is meant to....

If a MAN is meant to….

4 Comments on “Read My Story”

  1. As I perused through your site, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of being so proud to call you my friend. You are truly an inspiration and motivation to me as well as everyone that meets you. Ken, you should be extremely proud of everything that you have achieved and overcome in your life. I know some pretty terrible things have happened to you in your time but as they say “the things that don’t kill you only make you stronger”. You are one strong cookie!

    From your experiences it has shaped you into the beautiful soul that you are today and the person that we all care for and love. You are one of the most amazing people I have ever met.

    Keep being who you are because you always bring a smile to my face!

    Good luck


  2. Well I have just read “Was it the only way out” and Buried my Dad”.. you really have made it Ken, you are at the pinnacle, standing atop that mountain having let it all go.. it’s a truly incredible story of courage, strength, determination and the will to live.. You’ve made it .. x


  3. I cannot tell you how much your story has moved me Ken. You have changed your history and your future by standing bravely opening up what had happened to you, both from your early years with an abusive father, and the torture you received. It no longer hides lurking away in the shadows and I sincerely hope it brings with it a freedom for you.
    On a personal note – although out paths do not cross that often I can tell you that you have always been admired for your character and abilities and now I can add you are not only brave but an inspiration too. You certainly have made me look at what is hidden in my soul.
    I am so proud of you for what you have done and what you are doing…xxx


  4. Ken, l have been trying to track you down for years, since graduation ball ,blacktown rsl, 1974 , and now i have ,i feel so sad and helpless in not being there to support you any way i could on your sad journey. I stumbled across a link to your situation from a mobi site. Your problems must have started around the time i was discharged. It seems to me you are coming out of theend of it, so to speak. All the best for the future, mate. Please fell free to contact me, to chat about happier times.


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