Calyn's story

‘Thank youse for coming and hearing … [me] express myself to what was going on back in the mission days and why the government sent us to other people to look after us … being in their care, and then things started happening to us children, and we couldn’t get answers about.’

In the mid-1990s, when Calyn discovered that his mother’s boyfriend was sexually abusing his sisters, ‘I done something about it … while he was asleep. Well, I think my mother hated me ever since then, because I split their relationship up’.

After exposing his mother’s boyfriend, Calyn was sent to an Aboriginal mission in Western Australia. He told the Commissioner, ‘I thought it was something good for education, for reading and writing, but I believe it wasn’t … [It was] supposed to be a place where there was priests, and back then we thought priests was all good’.

When he arrived at the mission, Calyn saw two of his cousins. ‘I could see something was going on in their head’ and at night he heard noises coming from their dormitory. One of the priests started coming into Calyn’s dormitory at night to rape him. ‘We couldn’t do anything about it … so all I had to do was just shut the door and cry … I couldn’t do nothin’ or speak to anyone about it.’

Calyn told the Commissioner, ‘In the bush you could shout … as much as you want. It was like a prison … there’s nothing we could do. I mean, we can’t bring our virginity back after it’s been broken’. When one of his female relatives told him that two of the priests had been sexually abusing her, the two children ran away. When they were caught, they were sent back and given a hiding.

When Calyn finally had enough of the abuse, ‘I ended up hitting him in the head with a rake, just to get out of there’. He was sent to another children’s home, where he was provided with one-on-one tutoring to improve his literacy skills, but ‘the same thing happened there’. Calyn was sexually abused by the tutor who was supposed to be helping him, and as a result, he has never learned to read and write properly.

‘When you’re hurt and you really can’t express yourself to anyone in the world, especially your mum and dad … We never asked to be brought into this world for blokes to be fucking us in the arse … It’s the most hurtful thing that could ever happen to you … We’re sitting there getting hurt and … we don’t know what to do … They know what they’re doing. They’re older than us. Trying to take advantage of us kids.’

Calyn is currently in jail and told the Commissioner that ‘some of the blokes who are with me now in the same unit, as soon as I’m talking about [the mission], they’re walking out the door, straight away’. He knows that these men just don’t want to remember, or talk about what happened.

Calyn doesn’t drink alcohol, but he has ‘experienced all the drugs. I’ve tried to kill myself on heroin because of what happened to me … I couldn’t really tell anyone’.

He told the Commissioner that he has begun speaking to a counsellor from Relationships Australia and this has been helpful. ‘I’ve seen a lot of this on TV, saying you can get help and stuff … but I really didn’t think it was true … It took me so long to open up to her … Mentally, it hurts … I started smoking cigarettes … It’s emotional … I really been trying to express myself … to her.’

When he was younger, Calyn’s grandfather took him into the bush and showed him about ‘spiritual ways and stuff like that. I kept it all in my head, so I paint it today’. He now uses his painting talents to ‘just start doing stories of what’s going on in my mind and … just trying not to focus on what’s going on’.

Calyn told the Commissioner, ‘I want to ask the Commission … Why did the government put us in care of other people, and that happened to us and … ruined our life … It took a big hole out of my heart … If that ever happened to my kid and I found out who he was, I reckon I’d do something real stupid to him … real stupid … Things like that there should never have happened to us children’.

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