As a child in the 1950s, Angus said he had an angelic face. But it was these looks, he believes, that led to his being singled out from the other children and being put through severe and repeated sexual abuse when he was placed into care in Western Australia.
When Angus was about five, his mother was hospitalised. His dad couldn’t raise the kids on his own, which is how Angus and his brothers ended up in a home run by the Anglican Church. They were there until his mother recovered 18 months later.
Angus remembers being carried from his room in the home in the middle of the night, with someone’s hand over his mouth and nose, and being sexually abused. ‘Sometimes by one person, sometimes by two. Once or twice by three, including a woman. I protested, I fought, I got bashed around a bit, I used to run and hide. My pyjamas’d be torn to shreds.’
He doesn’t know who the people were, but he remembers spending a lot of time at the home being exhausted, terrified and hiding under his bed.
The older boys reassured him that the abusers would eventually pick on someone else. Angus remembers his big brother Ian sitting on his bed and saying, ‘Tonight you’ll be all right … You’ll be able to sleep. No one or nothing’s coming near you.’
As a result of the abuse Angus was constipated, bled severely from the anus and was too scared to eat because of the severe pain caused by going to the toilet.
When the boys finally got to return home Angus didn’t tell his parents what happened. He just wanted a quiet, peaceful home life. If his brothers broke anything or did anything wrong, Angus would take the blame and punishment for it. ‘I just wanted peace. I didn’t want fighting in the house.’
At school Angus always sat near the door because he needed easy access to the bathroom. ‘I was always scared because I didn’t know when I’d pass blood.’ He had to stuff toilet paper into his underpants in case of accidents. In the end it was much easier for him to be alone.
The physical damage from the abuse has lasted Angus’s entire life. So has the habit of being solitary. He tried to break into playing football at one time but couldn’t continue because of the regulation white shorts. He couldn’t run the risk of any accidents. It was the same with golf and cricket.
Angus didn’t ask for medical help for years for his problems, but finally told a doctor. He was referred to a hospital for examination. The doctor at hospital said, ‘You’ve been stretched and you’ve been torn. What happened?’
But there was a group of medical students who were attending the examination and Angus was very embarrassed. He shrank from disclosing again and told the doctor a story about trying to self-remedy his severe constipation.
Angus has seen several doctors since then and has been told there is no surgery that can fix the damage.
A search for records from his time at the home has been unsuccessful. But Angus has photos of him and his brothers that were clearly taken there. His older brother, who later took his own life, told Angus that he too had been sexually abused at the home.
Angus spends a lot of time alone in remote areas of the bush with his dogs and his fishing gear. He used money he received from the WA Redress scheme to buy a 4WD so he could get further away from people.
A lot of his strength has come from God, Angus said. He talks to God a lot but that doesn’t mean he goes to church. ‘My church is anywhere where there’s nature. Anywhere where God can listen to me.’
Angus is very angry about the impact the sexual abuse had on his life. He sees the various compensation schemes as woefully inadequate. ‘I’ve lost 40 odd years of my working life. A whole career. And I will never own a block of land. I’ll never own a house … It doesn’t make up for the heartache, it doesn’t make up for the tears.’
So what were his recommendations to the Commission?
‘Anyone proven for an absolute fact … to be a paedophile is to be taken somewhere where they need trees. He is to dig a hole to cover his own height plus three feet. He is to stand in the hole and one of the people he has bastardised is allowed to shoot him in the head. Then they put a tree on top of him. And the next paedophile will have the same thing. None of this bullshit about chemical castration.’