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Bryce Thomas's story

Bryce is nervous about touching his infant daughter. ‘I’m not quite sure if I’m touching her right, even just grooming her hair.’

He’s nervous around other people’s children, too. ‘If I play with kids it’ll be maybe 10 seconds, 20 seconds. That’s it. Boom. Gone. I’ve got to keep on moving because I don’t want other people thinking that I’m a friggin’ sick cunt paedophile. I hate it, hate it.’

Bryce’s early life was characterised by domestic violence. When his parents’ marriage broke up, his mother and siblings moved to a new town in New South Wales. They were very poor. In later years he learned that his father had sexually abused his sister.

The Salvation Army came knocking when Bryce was around seven to nine years old. He and his siblings couldn’t afford to attend sport as it would entail buying uniforms or equipment but the Salvation Army offered a boys’ legion group that was similar to the scouts.

There, Bryce came into contact with a leader, Luke Adler, who made him perform oral sex. At some point Bryce’s older brother told him he didn’t have to do what Adler told him to. ‘Cool. I didn’t have to do it. Well, why the fuck haven’t I been taught this?’ Bryce’s first disclosure was to his stepfather who didn’t do anything about it.

In later life Bryce used drugs and alcohol heavily but also worked very hard to set up his own business. He never made a statement to police as he didn’t trust them, remembering how they never intervened in the domestic violence in his childhood.

Bryce has committed significant assaults against his wife and has been taken to court. As part of the court process he saw a psychiatrist, the first time he had ever done so. He disclosed the abuse. He was also diagnosed with PTSD.

Bryce contacted the Salvation Army without giving details of his own abuse. They said they would get back to him but he never heard any more.

Now in his 40s, Bryce is taking steps to report Adler to the police. As for the Salvation Army, he has never sought compensation but would ‘really love to sue their arses’ but not for the money.

‘The only reason I’d like to sue them so much [is] you can pretty much close the organisation down.’

 

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