When Bryce was 12 years old he spent six months in a youth training centre in suburban Melbourne. ‘I got messed up with some other children ... My older brother was in trouble with the law a bit, so hanging out with him, and yeah, I ended up getting in trouble.’
It was the 1980s, and Bryce was already doing an apprenticeship out in the community. He was given authorisation to continue working while in detention, so he would go out to his job and return to the facility in the evening.
When Bryce came back to the centre, he would have his dinner in the night staff’s office. By this stage the other boys had eaten, and were in their dormitories for the night.
For a period of two or three weeks, Bryce was sexually abused by one of the officers who worked night-shift. ‘He’d give me cigarettes and stuff like that, and that’s when he started the abuse, the touching ... Just touching, trying kissing me.’ This abuse ended when the officer stopped working this shift.
Bryce was too scared and confused to disclose the abuse at the time. After leaving this centre, he spent some time at other different detention facilities. At one of these places staff attempted to kiss and fondle him a number of times.
For a while Bryce was in and out of detention, but he managed to stay out of trouble for almost two decades. He recently separated from his long-term partner, who he had never disclosed the abuse to because it was ‘too embarrassing’. He maintains contact with his children, and recognises that he has been over-protective towards them because of the abuse he experienced.
Bryce has a history of depression and anxiety, and is currently on medication to manage his mental health. Being around certain men causes him particular anxiety, and he has sometimes reacted violently to these situation. He also has ongoing issues with alcohol.
His feelings of embarrassment about what happened have prevented him from ever reporting it to police or other authorities.
Talking to the Royal Commission about the abuse was the first time Bryce had ever disclosed it to anyone. He was inspired by hearing other child sexual abuse survivors talking about their experiences in the media.
‘Just the recent stuff on TV. I thought these guys that are speaking out, maybe if more people do speak out it might stop for other children. That’s why I done it.’