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Adam Terry's story

Adam grew up in a disadvantaged Brisbane neighbourhood in the 1970s and 80s. His early life was very difficult. ‘I come from a dysfunctional family. Mum and Dad were drunks. Mum was abusive. I was confined to a bedroom for most of my life. Beaten. Starved. Very angry. Rebellious. Just a pretty mixed-up kid, really.’

Adam knew his mother was adept at presenting a good face to the welfare officers who infrequently came to the house to check on him and his siblings.

‘My mum knew when those cars pulled up at the front, and she would drag us out of the bedroom and get us to sit in front of the TV, make it all look good, and then once they’re gone we go back to our bedroom ... She was a great player. Very smart.’

In his early teens Adam ran away from home and ‘never went back’. He was homeless when he was ‘grabbed off the streets by the bikers. Evil things happened to me’. Adam told the Commissioner that the outlaw motorcycle club were ‘into rape, paedophilia, prostitution, extortion, murder – that’s how they make their money’.

He didn’t want to become a prostitute. ‘I fought it … The more you fight the more punishment you get. And I’ve seen nothing but punishment … They made me steal drugs – I had a choice they’d either pimp me and go along with it, or you break into homes and we profit off what you do or you sell us drugs.’

After about a year ‘they sold me to the Catholics … they handed me over to the church people’. Adam was taken to meet a Salesian Brother and two women who were starting a charity. ‘They put a lunch on, that’s how they lure people in’. The Brother took over Adam’s care.

‘They do good. Some kids get the good stuff. See, this is the key, if they know you’re from a dysfunctional network, that you’ve got no support, no one to rely on, you’re fair game.’

The two women sexually abused Adam a number of times. ‘They stripped me naked and the two women kissed and fondled me and then I blacked out.’ The Brother took Adam away for a holiday to a Salesian boys’ home in regional Queensland. He enjoyed the day in the bush but then after dinner ‘it was a major blackout … I don’t know who the Brother brought there that night’.

Adam has been incarcerated for a range of offences and ‘turned 18 in jail’. He has a history with prescription and illicit drugs. ‘The good thing about drugs with trauma, drugs cover it up. It makes you happy. I know it’s not good. I know it creates more of an issue.’

He has never reported the abuse out of fear of retribution from the Catholics, the bikers and the police. Adam has, though, told all the ‘psych’ hospitals he has been admitted to but ‘every time I tell them about it they just … want to shut me up’. He has now been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The impacts of the abuse have been significant. ‘I hate sex’ and ‘I trust no one’, Adam said. He believes that the Catholic Church needs to ‘let priests and these nuns have human interaction. Let them have a wife. Let them have a husband. Let them have their own children instead of preying on vulnerable areas’.

Adam thinks that the vulnerability of children, particularly those who grow up in suburbs with considerable disadvantage, needs to be taken into account when authorities are attempting to prevent abuse or catch perpetrators.

‘Paedophilia is not A, B and C. It is very complex. The messier [your life is], the more easier it is for [them] to get away with it.’

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