At first, Ajdin didn’t think much about why the two women at the Melbourne children’s home helped him with bathing – nor what they did to him while he was in the water. He was around 11 years old, more than old enough to wash himself, but they would assist him and touch him inappropriately on the genitals. ‘I was sort of aroused too you know, at that young age, and obviously that was showing ... They’re sort of kissing me, and it was just really weird I suppose. But at the time it sort of didn’t seem so weird.’
It was the mid-1970s, and Ajdin and his siblings had been at the state-run home for several years already. ‘It was a nice place – I think it was anyway ... I don’t really have that many childhood memories, to be honest with you ... There’s only just a few things I really remember regarding the home, and what happened, and friendships that I made, and people that I used to play with and stuff, even the workers there. I don’t know why, but it all seems just very vague to me ... Maybe I just seem block it out for some reason. Maybe it wasn’t pleasant.’
There was another incident of sexual abuse too around this time, involving a man Ajdin had seen around the home before. This man wasn’t a staff member, but had something to do with the basketball matches they played there. One day after a game he asked Ajdin if he would like to stay over at his place. Ajdin didn’t think this was unusual as he knew the man had taken other boys out of the home before, so he agreed to go with him.
While they were driving to the man’s home they stopped at a service station, and the man took him into the toilets. He isn’t sure what happened in there, but remembers thinking that something was not right. When they reached the house Ajdin started off sleeping on a camp bed, but later the man asked if he would like to get into his bed with him. Ajdin did so, as he had often slept in his father’s bed on visits from the home. It was winter too, and he hoped sleeping there would ‘be a bit warmer’.
In bed, the man then started to fondle and touch Ajdin sexually. ‘I just knew it wasn’t right, it just didn’t feel right when he started to touch me in the genital area ... He’s trying to grope me, and he’s trying to do things to me, and I’m not sort of really responding in the way he probably wanted me to ... I had to push him away, you know, and I felt very uncomfortable. I can’t remember how it all ended, maybe I’m just blocking it out. I’m not really sure why I can’t remember the finer details.’
Ajdin recalls that he mentioned this abuse to staff back at the home, but ‘nothing really sort of eventuated. I don’t know’. He never saw the man again.
‘So yeah, there was a few things that happened to me. Nothing I suppose as dramatic as what other people had to deal with, but not pleasant at the same time too.’
Despite not remembering a great deal about his early life, Ajdin is reluctant to request his files. ‘My sisters do have records of reports written by the people at the home, but I’ve never accessed those reports ... I don’t want to read stuff about me that other people have written, and what they think about me. It’s strange that.’
As an adult, Ajdin has had difficulties with personal relationships and commitment, although he has a long-term girlfriend now. He does not want to have children out of fear that something will prevent him looking after them and they will feel ‘abandoned’ like he did. ‘As sad as that is, that’s just the way I feel.’
Although he has tried counselling in the past, he felt uncomfortable with the process. ‘I have been to see a counsellor once before but I just, yeah, I didn’t really divulge everything I probably wanted to. Because I just didn’t feel comfortable enough to spill my guts.’
Ajdin’s girlfriend has suggested he seek ‘professional help’ again, to deal with his commitment issues, drug use and ‘general life’ problems, but he is unsure about doing so.
‘Personally I believe there’s no fixing the way I’ve been wired. Like even going to talk to psychologists, it might help me having a better understanding why I am the way I am, but I don’t think talk is really going to change the way I function.’
Ajdin still wonders what happened to that man from basketball. ‘I can forgive I suppose, as long as in his head he is remorseful for his actions’, and the two ladies who bathed him. He’d like to know ‘if any action was taken against them, not that that’s going to change anything ... I’m just hoping they feel what they did was wrong. And they haven’t got through life thinking that it was okay. Because it wasn’t’.
As the people who abused him would all be elderly now, he isn’t sure if there is a point in reporting them to police. He hopes though, that by speaking up about the man at the time he may have prevented other kids at the home from being abused. ‘So I should feel good about that, shouldn’t I really?’