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Carson Peter's story

‘With my tattoos and stuff, I got mine for a lot of different reasons than other people ... I wanted to get my body covered because I thought that it would make a different person, that people wouldn’t look at me as the person that I was, to take advantage of ... It wasn’t actually to make me look tough, but it was just to stop people looking at me as if that, I don’t know, I’m an easy target.’

Carson’s mum left the family due to domestic violence when he was young, leaving him and his siblings in the home with their dad and his guns. His dad used to beat him up, and he was raped by an uncle several times over a five-year period. Later he learned this uncle had sexually abused his sisters, and Carson suspects his dad did too.

‘I bought it up twice to certain different people, and the first thing they did was went and told my father, and then my father would bash the shit out of me for lying.’

By the age of 11, in the early 1980s, he had run away from his home in regional New South Wales and was living on the streets or couch surfing around the area. He’d already been using marijuana for a couple of years, and started using heroin and amphetamines too. Around this time he started tattooing himself in an attempt to stop people thinking of him as vulnerable.

After a number of convictions for break and enter robberies, Carson was sent to a youth detention centre in suburban Sydney. One of the workers, Glenn, befriended him, and asked how he felt about being there.

‘I said I’d much prefer this than being at home, you know. Because it’s a structure, I know what I’m doing ... I know what time I’m getting fed, I know what time I’m going to bed.

‘And then we talked for a while ... I bought up my past, with my uncle and stuff, that’s when I sort of thought I got some sympathy out of him, and he’d give me a few extra cigarettes.’

Glenn would call the cigarettes ‘energisers’, and to Carson ‘it all seemed really fine’ at first.

However one day Glenn told Carson he’d ‘have to work for these energisers’, and ‘then he brought up something about my uncle, “and what did he give you?” and stuff like that …

‘Anyway, he had a pair of shorts on ... He pulled his shorts back and he said “we can give you lots more energisers and stuff like that if you give something for me”. He said “Look, you’ve done it for your uncle, and I’m not like your uncle. I like you and I think you’re really brave, blah blah blah”. And at the time it just seemed like strange ... At the end of the day I’m getting a reward ... It was just touching and a bit of fondling and stuff to start with.’

The next day the abuse continued, and ‘ended up I give him oral sex, he give me oral sex... it was more so I was looking after his benefit’. There were a few more instances of abuse after this.

Carson also spent time at another youth detention centre. ‘Again it was one of those places that I did enjoy because it was structured, very regimented you know, had to march everywhere and line up, do this do that ... You had to march for your meals, you had to march all the way round the square ... At the time it seemed a lot better than normal life.’

One of the workers fondled his genitals under the guise of providing medical care, and he felt worried because he enjoyed what this man did to him. This worker also watched him one time as he undressed to go swimming ‘but he never did anything else after that’.

In his mid-teens Carson met a girl, and their relationship lasted for nearly two decades. He and his partner did a lot of counselling for issues in their relationship. ‘Because with me I put up with a lot of things ... It was the fact of my mother left when I was younger, I didn’t want another female to leave me in my life and stuff.’

They had a child together, and Carson maintained steady employment during this period, and stayed out of trouble with the law. During his 30s, however, Carson got back into the drug scene and again became involved in crime, including a conviction and prison sentence for child pornography.

When he was released from custody he sought and paid for ongoing therapy with a forensic psychologist. During these sessions he disclosed the abuse, after the psychologist told him that ‘everything you do, everything that has happened to you, and you’ve done, you’ve done it yourself, you’re your own problem, you’re at fault’.

‘And that’s when it came out about “Well, what, it was my fault that my uncle molested me?”’

Carson found talking about the abuse during treatment very beneficial, even though he had spoken to family and one of his partners about it before. Since this therapy he has not looked at child pornography again. Recently he got in contact with his mother after many years of not speaking to her at all, writing her a letter to say that he loved her.

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