Braydon’s grandmother looked after him and his siblings when he was small, as his mother was ‘not right in the head’. He never knew his dad. In the mid-1980s, his grandmother wasn’t able to cope anymore. Braydon was made a state ward at the age of three and placed into foster care.
He lived in almost 40 placements over the next 15 years. ‘I was just moved from house to house to house to house. There was no actual reason given for why it was happening.’ The first placement was with Eve and Ted Wilson. Ted was a very strict man, and physically and emotionally violent. They had six other foster kids at their home in Sydney’s Greater West.
One of these kids, Marty, was a teenager, and began sexually abusing Braydon when he first arrived. ‘With Marty, I shared a bedroom with him, as brothers. And my earliest memories of him were him ejaculating in front of me. And then it turned into anal sex, oral sex, masturbation – just being forced to do things, sexual favours, to him.’
This abuse continued for some time. ‘I do remember an incident when Marty masturbated in me, and I ran downstairs and I told my foster father. And my foster father went up there and I don’t know what happened between them. But it wasn’t long after that that Marty was actually removed from the house.’
Eve sexually abused Braydon too, ‘every now and then’. She’d get him to come into her bedroom, where ‘she’d kind of fondle me, and get me to fondle her’. He doesn’t think Ted knew about this.
At first, Braydon did not understand that these incidents were abuse. It was only when he was six, and got into trouble for behaving in a sexually inappropriate way with another child, that he began to realise this kind of behaviour might be wrong. He left the Wilsons around this time.
At the age of eight, Braydon moved to a home with an alcoholic man and his wife (‘the mother was alright’). This man would get ‘horny’, and one time when his wife was away ‘I got gang-raped by him and a few of his mates’.
This happened again several times in the two months he was there. His foster father threatened to harm him if he disclosed these assaults, and told him nobody would believe a kid anyway.
By the time Braydon was 10 years old, he was suicidal, and asked the Department of Community Services (DOCS) for help. They referred him to a psychiatrist, Dr Jenkins, to whom he disclosed the abuse. He continued to see this doctor into his teenage years. Dr Jenkins helped Braydon to understand that he was not alone, and that people cared about him.
As far as he knows, Dr Jenkins did not refer any of the abuse he experienced to DOCS or the police, although they continued to meet. Braydon told the Royal Commission the abuse ‘did something to my head’, and he exhibited further inappropriate sexual behaviour in his teens.
By his mid-teens, Braydon had absconded from a number of foster homes and ended up living on the streets. During this period he experienced a number of sexual assaults.
‘I didn’t sell myself for sex, but I fell prey to people who took advantage of me being a kid on the streets ... At that age, I still thought what was happening to me was normal.’
Braydon remembers a particular DOCS worker, David, who occasionally visited him when he was young. David also took children to his office to be interviewed about any issues they had with their placements.
Although Braydon never disclosed the sexual abuse to David, he thinks David must have known something was wrong. He feels that people in these positions should be aware of the common signs of child sexual abuse, and be prepared to act on them. He also remembers the DOCS workers assigned to him often spent more time speaking with his foster carers than they did with him.
When Braydon was 18 his wardship ended, and he was assigned an after-care facilitator. This service found him a refuge, but did not help with other practical support. He would like to see better constructive assistance provided to people who are leaving care.
With no life skills, Braydon soon ended up unemployed and homeless. He was already abusing drugs and alcohol – ‘I just wanted to destroy myself, because of what I’d been through ... I’d sort of had enough of life’ – and started committing criminal offences. When he was 19, he was incarcerated in an adult prison, and experienced further sexual assault. His crimes escalated from dishonesty offences, to acts of violence, for which he is currently in jail.
Over the years, Braydon lost track of his siblings, and hasn’t spoken to his mum for a long while. Braydon has had occasional relationships with women, but says he is hard to get to know. He has always had trouble holding down a job.
He has reported the sexual abuse by Marty to police, but Marty was unable to be located so the matter could not progress. He has not claimed any compensation for the inappropriate placements he was placed in, or the inadequate supervision he received while in these placements.
Braydon shared his story with the Royal Commission hoping to help create change, to try and prevent other kids going through the things he did. ‘A lot of us do end up on the streets, on the drugs ... We end up being the lower echelon of society. And I don’t think that’s fair.’