July 30, 2013

A Beyond Survivor's Story: One Man's Journey Out of the Darkness of Sexual Abuse

This week, I am so pleased to introduce you to author and Beyond Survivor, Duane Katene. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Duane about his efforts in Australia to raise awareness about the occurrence and prevention of abuse and the desperate need for services. I also learned more about his book, Neon Signs, the story of the of a male sexual abuse survivor. I am so honored to have Duane joining us. It is men like Duane who are willing to tell their story that empowers more and more men to speak up about the abuse they experienced.

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My name is Duane Katene. I am a husband and father from the Gold Coast, in the state of Queensland, Australia. I am also a childhood sexual abuse survivor. The first instances of sexual abuse happened in 1991. I was twelve years old. The perpetrator was a trusted family friend. He was a few years older than me.

During my high school years, I remember feeling lonely. I didn’t have a constant peer group. I would float from group to group. I felt different from all my other peers. I used to hang out in the school library. I just didn’t feel that I belonged. When I did hang out with my peers, it was with girls rather than with boys. I hated boys. I was being sexually abused by one of them. They had become a threat. This impacted greatly my own identity, because I wasn’t developing as other males were. Instead, I was developing a deformed male identity.  

In 1995, during my last year of high school, my perpetrator moved away. By then the damage had been done. I had been sexually abused during a time where my sexual, mental, emotional, social and physical identities were being formed. After he moved away, I didn’t tell my parents what had happened because I was ashamed. Instead in 1996, I moved away from the Gold Coast to attend university in Toowoomba, about three hours away in the same state.

I studied a Bachelor of Business at first and changed to a Bachelor of Psychology in 1997. However by the end of 1997, I had completely stopped functioning. I couldn’t study. I couldn’t maintain friendships. I had lost control of my life and with my family’s support I left university and returned back to the Gold Coast, despite what it represented, yet I didn’t have any other choice. I needed my family.

In the beginning of 1998, I finally told my family what had happened to me. That was a painful time. I saw a psychologist for the rest of the year, because I couldn’t maintain employment and I couldn’t return to study. For me, my life had come to a standstill. I could only manage the basic things in life and anything else I couldn’t cope with at all. 

That year, was a dark year. The worst year I have ever been through. I was horrible to live with since I couldn’t function very well. I hated myself and I hated everyone around me. I had no self-confidence. I had no sense of identity. I struggled with having nothing in my life; no job, no direction, nothing. I felt like I was a dark pulp of misery and anger. The only thing I looked forward to was writing. I loved writing fantasy stories. Writing was one of the things that kept me from going under, that, and my religion. 

My sessions with the psychologist also helped me to slowly improve along with my love of writing and my beliefs as a Christian. Then in 1999, I returned to full time study in Psychology at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. Throughout much of 1999, I continued to grow stronger and to take on more responsibility. By the end of the year, I decided to serve a two year proselyting mission for my church. I was sent to Japan on the 4th of July, 2000.

About mid-way through 2002, I returned back to Australia, enrolled back into Griffith University and met my soon to be wife, Jodie, in December of that year. 

As soon as I met Jodie, I felt a strong attraction towards her. She was beautiful and funny and made me feel confident and comfortable about myself. She was also very accepting and understanding and by the end of the conference, I knew, she was the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Although at that time, I didn’t realize the impact the sexually abuse would have on developing the needed relationship I necessary for us to marry. At that time, I was just smitten and didn’t see the problems that would arise.

We dated for most of the summer of 2002 and continued into 2003. As we developed a deeper relationship, I became fearful of being that close with someone and broke up with Jodie. I began to retreat into myself and felt fearful of Jodie learning about the sexual abuse I experienced. I was also fearful of her reaction.  

Fortunately with the encouragement and support of my family, I reconciled with Jodie and explained to her about what had happened to me. To my astonishment, Jodie reacted in a sensitive way. She didn’t recoil away from me in horror as I thought she would. Instead, she explained to me that she had a few friends that had been sexually abused. With my fears alleviated and through Jodie’s unconditional love, acceptance and understanding, we continued our courtship throughout 2003. Then on the 29th November 2003, a few weeks after our graduations, we were married. 

In the beginning of 2004, I found work part time as an English Language Teacher on the Gold Coast and Jodie worked in customer service until she became pregnant later in the year. It was a planned pregnancy, yet I struggled with feelings of not being able to perform as a father. I also thought that I would somehow pass my own ‘hang ups’ onto my child. However what I feared the most was having a boy. 

Another challenge I was experiencing was getting my driver’s license. I hadn’t been able to get one before because I just didn’t have the confidence. However now that Jodie was pregnant, I had no choice but go for it and it was a massive challenge for me, especially because my instructor was a male. All up, I failed four times and passed on the fifth time, yet I was able to work through more of my deeper issues with being in trusting situations with other males.

On the 3rd May 2005, we became proud parents of a baby girl. I loved her from the start and, my fears were alleviated. In 2006 we moved to Brisbane after I secured full time work as an English Language Teacher, and by the end of that year, I had become an Assistant Manager.

In the beginning of 2007, I decided to study a Master of Education, majoring in teaching English to overseas students. This increased my stress levels. However we needed the added income that having a Master degree would bring. 

On the 24th June 2007, our second daughter was born and the darkness of the sexual abuse I had experienced began to return due to the stressors I was experiencing. I was now a husband, a father of two daughters, in a job that I hated and I was studying a Master in Education which I also hated. 

It was from here on in that I began to battle with an eating disorder, over-exercising, suicide ideation and other things I felt were attributed to the sexual abuse I had suffered. By the end of 2007, I was mentally and emotionally tired. I withdrew from the Masters course and began to look for another job.

At the beginning of 2008, I found a job as a Manager of the Student Services within a university still in Brisbane. Through the love of my wife and my daughters, I did overcome those things I felt were attributed to the sexual abuse. However, the stress I felt with my new job was too much so I found a job in the same role at a university on the Gold Coast.

In 2009, we returned to the Gold Coast and we moved with our two daughters near the university where I worked. However, a few months later in May, I was fired from my job and I began to return back to my old vices. Tired with working, I decided to enroll into a Master of Education (primary school) in June, though by September I withdrew from the course. I saw a psychologist for the rest of that year.

In January 2010, I enrolled into a Postgraduate of Counseling. I lasted a week. After that, I enrolled into a Master of Social Work; however by April of 2010, I was done. I found work a few months later within the Queensland government as a Child Welfare Officer just in time to welcome our third daughter.


Working as a Child Welfare Officer was a positive experience at first. However gradually the job didn’t work out, and towards the end of the year, I felt that I wanted to return to university and to become professionally trained as a writer. So in the beginning of 2011, I enrolled into a Master of Arts/Media. It was because of this, I decided to write about my experiences as an adult recovering from childhood sexual abuse. 

From the start, I wanted to write a novel that expressed the darkness that sexual abuse brings and also showed what the long term consequences of sexually abuse look like in everyday life. I wanted this expressed not only in narrative form, but in poetry and short stories. The goal would be to bring awareness of sexual abuse to the community and to acknowledge the struggles of those of us who have been sexually abused. Neon Signs was the result. 

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Check back next week when Duane will tell us more about Neon Signs and shares some excerpts from the novel.


Duane Katene, now 35 years old, was born in New Zealand and moved to Gold Coast, Australia when he was eight years old. He is happily married to his wife Jodie and they have three beautiful daughters, Armarna ((8), Grace (6) and Arden (2). He has a Bachelor of Psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Arts/Media from Griffith University. He has worked in Education, Management and Child Welfare, and is currently working as a Social Worker for a foster care agency. He spends the rest of his time writing and taking care of his daughters. He is the author of two eBooks: Neon Signs and Fury’s Daughter. His ambition in life is to raise awareness and understanding of male sexual abuse, to become a spokesperson for male sexual abuse, and to become a resource for survivors and those who love them. 

Visit http://www.duanekatene.com/ to learn more and order your copy of Neon Signs.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing his story. I am glad that despite the trauma and anguish that he suffered, he has found ways to focus on more positive aspects of his life and to have the courage to tell other people about his story. Raising awareness of sexual abuse in the society is necessary and I'm glad that people like him are doing more about it.

    The Zalkin Law Firm, P.C.

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