‘I’ve been writing my story about 62 years or more … my friend told me stop writing, ‘cause it’s breaking me.’
Carter came to the Royal Commission to tell the story of how he was abused. Born in Perth in the early 1950s, he didn’t ‘remember much about the first two years of my life. I was allowed to go fishing, shooting, hunting, everything with my dad. And then all this happened, this terror.
‘My dad used to bash my mum up all the time and I had to come between my mum and that’s when my dad started on me. He indecently assaulted me. My brother indecently assaulted me.’
When he was about 10 and his little sister was still a baby, his father punched her in the face and Carter stepped in to protect her. His father then turned on him, bashed and kicked him, then took him into the bedroom and raped him.
‘That’s why I ran away from home and I went to the police station … and I told the police my dad nearly killed my sister. And then the policeman took me back to my dad’s house and everything like that and the policeman watched him punch the piss out of me. And I was only a little boy still.
‘My father ended up getting charged with assault by causing grievous bodily harm with intent to kill and he got four years jail for it … They took me into care of protection – that never happened. It was run by the Salvation Army.’
Carter was very upset and homesick at the boys’ home and Sergeant Greer comforted him. One day Sergeant Greer offered to take Carter and some friends to the drive-in movies.
‘And all of a sudden I was in the car with him … I wanted to go to the toilet and Sargent Greer said he’d take me …
‘He got me into the toilet and everything like that. He started fondling me and everything like that and when I got back to boys’ home he come in and he said “Here, I’ll tuck you in” and then he started fondling me again and then he laid on the bed with me and he …’
Carter could not bring himself to describe what happened next.
Afterwards, he told the major in charge of the home what had happened. The major said he’d look into it but nothing was done. Instead Carter was also abused by another officer there, a captain.
‘These people are probably dead by now, I don’t know, I don’t care really. All I want from them is a letter of apology. They’re supposed to give kids care and protection, look after these children, not hurt them.’
After about two years of frequent abuse, he ran away from the boys’ home and ended up in a government-run reception centre, where he was raped in the shower by six other inmates. Again he reported the abuse to a senior officer but nothing was done.
After his release he returned home and bided his time, putting up with the ongoing physical abuse from his father. When he was 18, he broke both his father’s arms to stop him beating him up. He also injured his brother after witnessing him bash his wife.
‘My father made me into a bad boy who grew into a bad man, who become very sick. When I couldn’t handle anymore I tried to take my own life. I tried so many times. I tried to hang myself with a sheet …
‘Nobody does that to me anymore. Nobody hurts a woman in front of me anymore. Nobody hurts a child in front of me anymore. Nobody hurts me anymore because I’ve been hurt too much. So I’ve been with this pain all my life. I’ve lived with it. I want to start setting myself free …
‘I’ve done a lot of years jail over me father and me brother. Because you know why? He hurt my mum, he hurt my sisters, he destroyed me. He took my dignity away from me. I had no dignity. I am a lost soul.’
Over the course of his life, Carter has experienced significant mental health issues, epilepsy, heart problems and short term memory loss. After many years of drug and alcohol abuse, and a long criminal record, he managed to get some help from a non-profit counselling service that, he said, ‘got me going again’. He has given up drinking and turned things around and now works in community service.
He saw his father again before he died but couldn’t handle being around him and didn’t stay. Although he said he still goes through pain on a daily basis, he was glad to be able to tell his story and get things off his chest.
He has recently connected with a new partner who makes him happy and he found the courage to propose to her. He is now looking forward to them getting married and is very thankful for the support he’s received.
He has also started a process with knowmore legal service to retrieve his records and ask for an apology from the Salvation Army. He said when he receives it, he’ll hang it on his wall.