SALVATION - Vikki Petraitis

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

With the publication of SALVATION Vikki Petraitis has written 9 true crime books, but in her notes at the back of SALVATION, she particularly mentions a book that was released in 1999 - Rockspider.  The author wrote that book, with Inspector Chris O'Connor of the Victoria Police Child Exploitation Squad, to give the public an insight into how paedophile's operate.  The suffering of the victims struck a chord when Rod Braybon first contacted her.

SALVATION is the story of Rod's life as a ward of the state.  He was 6 years old in 1950, when his father died, leaving his mother with eight children to care for.  She didn't cope, and in no time at all Rod and his brothers and sisters were left with the police, handed over to become wards of the state, by their own grandfather.  Splitting up the siblings was devastating enough for kids who had been taught by their father to look after their own, but being handed over to a system that seems to have specialised in absolute brutality was enough to break the spirits of many of them.  Particularly chilling is the difficulty Rod has now in understanding why he and his siblings were treated as they were.  Whether his grandfather realised that his own petty prejudices had resulted in such a dreadful outcome for 8 undoubtedly wild, but ultimately just young country kids, with a mother that seems to have had her own mental health problems.

The tales of sexual assault, abuse, beatings and deprivation are starkly told.  The attitudes and reactions of the perpetrators clearly spelt out, more sobering the lack of action within despite direct knowledge of the what was happening.  The results in terms of the damage to psyche, and physical and mental health of the victims is undeniable.  Anybody reading this account can't possibly be unaware of the ongoing pain and suffering of any victim of such appalling behaviour.  All of that makes the attitude of the Salvation Army and their - well let's call it what it is - begrudging, petty and cruel written apology simply breathtaking.  The analysis from the author at the end of the book which discusses the "corporate response" of organisations such as the Salvation Army, and the Catholic Church astutely sums up the attitude of all of these groups.

The writing of a book like this can't be an easy task - for the teller or the author.  SALVATION tells this tale in a sympathetic, but not sensationalist way, respectful to the other victims who are also still alive.   Working with Vikki, Rod has told his personal story - spelling out what these organisations did for so many years.  Somewhere in this telling of the story there's a sense of this man firstly re-empowering himself, forging the way for other victims to do so as well, and finally after taking the opportunity to speak out, restart a life so dreadfully, stupidly, pointlessly diminished.

Vikki's books can be purchased from her website:

Year of Publication

In the early 1950s, Rod Braybon's father died, leaving his mother with eight children she couldn't care for.  As a ward of the state, Rod was passed from institution to institution until he finally ended up at the notorious Bayswater Boys' Home run by the Salvation Army.

Rod endured years of ill-treatment at the hands of the Salvation Army, then spent a life-time repressing the memories that haunted him.

Finally, after seeing an article in a newspaper, Rod decided to speak out.  His story created a nation-wide sensation and won a prestigious award for the journalist who broke it.

That Rod was willing to speak out to try and ease the suffering of others like him, is incredible. That he survived at all, is nothing short of a miracle.  Salvation is a story of courage and the indomitable Aussie spirit.

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