‘I didn’t realise there were so many, you know.’
At the age of 11, Baz was stealing the money people left in their holiday unit electricity boxes for bill payments. He did it as a way to help his mother who was alone bringing up her children. Eventually Baz was caught and sent to a New South Wales boys’ home after being labelled ‘uncontrollable’ by the courts.
He went to the home several times as a child. ‘I was abused on two of the times I was in [the home]. The first time was when I was 11 years old and that was in the mid 1970s. We were made to go to the Catholic church [in town] on Sundays. When I went to the church the priest there touched me up, he made me play with his penis and he made me suck his penis.’
Baz thought that there might have been other priests who abused him, but he can’t remember any of their names.
‘I had a funny feeling that it mightn’t have been just one. After a while, ‘cause I was there a fair while and then I went back there, it all kind of blurred. I tried to forget about it you know, when I was young, and I couldn’t talk about it.’
Baz remained in state care until he was 17, after which he went back to live with his mother. She told him she was proud of him for doing well and at that time he couldn’t bring himself to tell her about the abuse.
Much of Baz’s life has been spent in jail. In the late 2000s, his teenage daughter asked him to stop committing crime. ‘I was 44 and my daughter told me if I didn’t stop, she wouldn’t talk to me, so I haven’t been back. I used to enjoy, I don’t know, you enjoy jail but I don’t know, in the end [I’d think] this is the safest place for me.’
Baz has a history of substance abuse and has been diagnosed with a major depressive illness. He’s disclosed the sexual abuse to two different workers as part of assessments for sentencing hearings, but he’s never made a police report. Recently he started seeing support workers attached to a nearby health service.
He’s also had contact with a legal firm about pursuing a civil claim for compensation. He thought some money might be helpful to share with his daughter, who often expresses concern about him and doesn’t know about the abuse.
‘She’s a bit worried lately ‘cause of the way I’ve been, but I can’t really – she wants me to tell her the truth you know and I said, “But you’re not an adult yet”. I don’t know what to say. She sees me upset sometimes and she’ll ask me, you know, “What’s the problem?” I can’t really tell her, you know. I don’t know what to say to her.’