No Defence is the inspirational, heartfelt memoir of Kenny Mcilwain's extraordinary courage to share his long-held secret of suffering repeated sexual abuse while serving as an apprentice in the Royal Australian Navy.
Kenny was raised in Warwick, QLD by an alcoholic father who at 18 years of age was jailed for murdering his own father. For many years, he inflicted abuse and terror on young Kenny and his family. A month after his 16th birthday, Kenny escaped his home life by joining the Royal Australian Navy as an engineering apprentice. At HMAS Nirimba in 1971, Kenny found his nirvana and for 18 months life had never been so good. A simple ironing job to earn some extra money, led to him becoming a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of two senior ranked servicemen.
For nine long months, he endured unimaginable rapes and violence before attempting suicide to end his nightmare. He was only 18. 57 days in a psychiatric hospital followed. Kenny was officially discharged in December 1973 for being found unfit for service - Below Naval Physical Standards. Despite telling the Navy medical doctor and his own parents of the abuse, no one believed Kenny and so he locked it all away in his personal vault.
He kept his dark secret for 38 years, through marriage, career, raising 4 daughters, artistic pursuits and competing in marathons, triathlons, bike races, ultra-triathlons and ultra-marathons. But in 2011, while watching the Australian Defence Force's Skype Sex Scandal unfold on A Current Affair, his vault suddenly exploded. Kenny could no longer keep his toxic secret. He told his family and then he went public. It was time for justice and to fight for a formal apology from the Australian Defence Force. No more cover ups - no more secrets.
Despite Kenny's hardships and challenges, he has proven himself to be a remarkable and inspiring man achieving incredible feats as an ultra-endurance athlete. In six years, he swam, ran, walked and cycled, the distance around the world. Riding his mountain bike solo from Darwin to Broome in 2015 was the first of many awe-inspiring adventures.
Kenny is one of many who suffered sexual abuse at HMAS Nirimba and one of thousands living today with chronic, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. His story sheds much needed light on institutionalised sexual abuse, abuse of power and living with PTSD. Positive change can only occur with awareness. It took 38 years. It is time for the world to know.
Quite simply - The truth needs to be heard.