Warning: This article contains details of child sexual abuse and suicide.
When ABC viewers settled in to watch Wednesday night’s You Can’t Ask That, they knew it would be difficult viewing. But they didn’t know just how heartbreaking things would become.
Dr Stuart Kidd, a 60-year-old child sexual abuse survivor from the Blue Mountains, was among those to share his story. And tragically, it has emerged that he took his own life two months before the episode went to air.
Dr Stuart Kidd on You Can’t Ask That. Post continues after video.
A statement released by the ABC said the interview with the retired orthopaedic surgeon, during which he shared deeply personal insights into the long-term trauma of repeated childhood sexual abuse, was filmed in November last year.
The broadcaster shared an email they received from Dr Kidd after he and his wife, Janet, viewed the episode in February before it aired.
“WOW! Gobsmacked. Speechless. Brilliant. A.MAZING!… Janet and I are both so very impressed and very grateful. WHAT a special ‘ministry’ you guys have of bringing these stories to everyday Aussies…Thank you,” it read.
And on Wednesday, Australians watched Dr Kidd open up about the harrowing abuse he and his little brother suffered, beginning from when he was just a toddler.
“I was raped both ends by men 30, 40 years older than myself. And then by an older boy who I thought … I thought was a friend. And then by older men again as a teenager,” he said. “I was just being myself being a boy, paying the consequences for it.”
Dr Kidd spoke of the feelings of self-hatred he has desperately tried to work through over the course of his life.
“I tried to suicide when I was 11 three times because I was such a piece of filth that the world needed to be rid of me,” he said.
“Deep down, despite 30 years of therapy, I still think it’s my fault.
“I still haven’t been able to come to a place of being able to hate them (the abusers), I just hate myself.
“Unless you have had some sort of similar experience, it’s almost incomprehensible.”
Dr Kidd said when he saw photos of himself as a little boy, he could see he was not to blame.
“I dug out some photos recently of myself of that age, confronting that I see myself too often as ugly and naughty. And I wasn’t ugly and naughty, I was a cute little fella and I was full of fun and I was innocent and I was brutally assaulted.”
Towards the end of the episode, Dr Kidd said he'd taken solace in being able to acknowledge his own personal strength.
"The most useful fact is that my therapists, the repeated line has been 'we cannot believe that you have performed, that you managed to get through university, to become a doctor, to work overseas, to work in a third world country in an appalling environment and you've managed to carry on a career for 35 years'," he said.
"Because I'm a fucking miracle."
You Can't Ask That's series producer/director Aaron Smith paid tribute to Dr Kidd and the "profound impact" his appearance on the show would have on raising awareness of abuse survivors.
“In the very short time we knew Stuart, we were struck by his honesty, openness, strength and resolve in dealing with traumatic childhood experiences," Mr Smith said.
"Stuart’s contribution to You Can’t Ask That will have a lasting and profound impact on the audience, helping to reduce stigma and increase awareness and understanding for survivors of sexual assault. We share our heartfelt condolences with Stuart’s family and friends.”
Dr Kidd's wife said she was "proud" of her husband for "putting his story out there".
"My husband was a survivor of complex early childhood trauma for over 55 years. He had been sexually assaulted from a disgustingly early age. He never stopped trying to find help and healing. He was acutely aware of the terrible effect his struggles had on us, his family," Janet said.
"In the 1990s, he found support through ASCA, now the Blue Knot Foundation; and I was told that my children and I were secondary survivors of his abuse. Years later, after putting an enormous effort into being the very best doctor, husband, father and grandfather that he possibly could be, my husband became even more deeply depressed as he saw the struggles of our adult children to find healing for themselves, from the consequences of growing up seeing him struggle."
She said the Survivors And Mates Support Network had started a fund in her husband's memory to support relatives of male survivors.
"Please help by making a donation. We needed it, others need it, too."
To donate, please visit the the Survivors And Mates Support Network.
You can watch Dr Stuart Kidd tell his story on You Can't Ask That on ABC's iView.
If this article has raised any issues for you, you are urged to contact the Survivors and Mates Support Network on 1800 472 676, 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636. If you need urgent crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.