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Blair Aaron's story

Blair had a good childhood growing up with his grandparents in regional Queensland, but his circumstances became less stable when they separated. He started getting into trouble with the law in the early 1990s, and at the age of 14 ended up in a Brisbane youth detention centre.

It was a tough place, and you had to be able to fight to survive it. Although Blair could hold his ground against the other detainees, there was no winning against the guards. Discipline was harsh, and included being bashed and thrown into the isolation cell.

‘My life got turned upside down after that really, now that you think about it, and my life’s just been down ever since ... I’ve sniffed a lot, I’ve done a lot of alcohol, I’ve used a lot of drugs, just to escape all that.’

Blair’s behaviour continued to deteriorate after these experiences, and it was not long before he started offending again. He was sent to a different detention centre, also a harsh environment. One of the officers, Mr Grey, would give him rewards such as cigarettes and chocolates if he performed sexual acts.

‘I don’t really like talking about it, because I’ve never really spoken to anyone in my life about it, you know what I mean? ‘Cause I don’t think I’m gay or nothing.’

Blair did not tell anyone about what Mr Grey was doing, as he was embarrassed and ashamed. After leaving detention he continued using his old coping techniques.

But, while ‘using drugs helps me’, this strategy also led him into further trouble, and he has been in and out of custody for much of his life.

During his time in prison he became aware that many other prisoners had experienced sexual abuse, too. ‘It’s a sad world, eh?’ Even though he could not disclose his own story at the time, knowing he was not alone helped.

He applied to the state redress scheme but only received the base payment as he did not disclose the sexual abuse ‘and they never asked’.

Blair’s mum is still alive, and he wishes he could find a way to tell her about the abuse. ‘I got an ill mother and she’s waiting for me to talk, she kind of knows something, someone touched me, and she’s waiting for me. And I feel embarrassed to tell her that, but I want to tell her that. But I just don’t know how to tell her that, ‘cause I’m not queer or nothing.’

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