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Alec Robert's story

‘I find it hard sometimes. I’ve never been abusive to any children. I’ve never wanted to be abusive to any children. I find it difficult sometimes to have my grandkids, I feel like … I don’t want to be, because I know what’s happened to kids, you know … The thing is, I don’t have any inkling at all to be like that, you know. And why should I have to feel weird? … Why should I have to feel like that?’

Alec grew up in Western Australia in the 1970s. After his mother was hospitalised for a mental illness, Alec and his brother were eventually sent to a children’s home. Alec was six or seven years old.

From there Alec was sent to a few different homes for children and went to his mother’s on weekends. He was made a ward of the state and, by the time he was 11 or 12, was sent to a Catholic-run boys’ home. There, at the age of 13, Alec was restrained and raped by another resident, a 15-year-old boy. He was threatened with violence and told that no one would listen to him if he said anything. This perpetrator was known, amongst the kids, to prey on younger boys. This happened once to Alec and he didn’t tell anyone.

When Alec was 14 he was sent to a group home. The house parents, Greg and Janice Newland, then in their mid-30s, were ‘a breath of fresh air’. The placement was everything Alec wanted. Greg Newland was involved in sport. He taught Alec to drive. He also gave Alec alcohol, although that was something Alec didn’t care for at the time. As it turns out, Greg Newland was grooming him.

Newland started abusing Alec on a regular basis. At first Alec noticed Newland coming to another boy’s bed at night time as Alec shared a room with this boy. Then, Newland started abusing Alec too. He would touch Alec and masturbate. He wasn’t aggressive but affectionate ‘in a sick way’. There was also a house, separate from the group house. Sometimes Newland would take the boys there and abuse them. This went on for two years. The two boys never spoke about it to each other and Janice Newland had no idea.

Even though Alec was visited by a welfare officer, he didn’t tell anyone about the abuse. ‘Everything I’d been looking for, that I’d missed as a child, you know, [this home] gave you … and it was like … who’s gonna believe me? … So you just put up with it, hope it didn’t happen, try to push him away…’

When Alec finished school at 16 he had to leave the home. He lived with his father, whom he didn’t really know, and after a few months he left and lived on the streets. He became depressed and attempted suicide. Alec avoided a psychiatric assessment and never had counselling.

Alec ‘got into crime’ but gave it away. His father got some work for him and father and son became drinking mates. Alec went on to become an alcoholic. He worked hard, however, and was still able to function.

Alec had a relationship with a woman, also an alcoholic, and they had children. This broke up as did his second relationship. ‘I tried to find love and I don’t know what it is … I was never an aggressive person or abusive. I was just sad.’ Alec didn’t tell either of his partners about the sexual abuse.

The second relationship breakup triggered a depression. Alec quit his job and got into drugs. He was arrested for a drug offence and has spent over four of the last 10 years in jail. Even though he vowed he would give his own kids all the love he missed out on, he had been absent from one of his children’s life for the past decade. However, they are now in contact again.

Alec has worked a lot on forgiveness. He is now drug and alcohol free. He has been receiving one-on-one counselling through an external drug counselling service, and finds this much more useful than the group sessions run by his prison. He disclosed the sexual abuse to his counsellor over a year ago.

He has not considered reporting the abuse to the police. Alec also feels that going through a redress scheme process would not be helpful for him.

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