‘At the end of the day all I want to do is be better for my family.’
Clint’s young life was very unstable. In the mid 1970s, his mother left him at an Anglican children’s home in the north of New South Wales. He was about five. She told him, ‘I have to leave you here … I’ve got to go and find you a dad’, but Clint didn’t understand what she meant. ‘I remember that because … it was pretty traumatic.’
Clint was one of the youngest in the home and experienced significant violence from the older boys. ‘From the get-go it was pretty aggressive – you copped a lot of beatings from the other boys.’ Clint became extremely stressed and began to wet his bed. Each morning his bed would be checked by one of the male staff. If he had wet the bed, he would be taken to have a cold shower. During the shower the man would sexually abuse him.
‘I wet the bed a lot … I had to be taken to the shower quite a lot and I remember I had to have cold showers … That’s where a lot of it [abuse] took place. I don’t remember everything about it. I remember being touched quite a lot.’
Clint also remembers being kissed all over by one of the men. He stayed in the home for around a year, until his mother came and collected him. He continued to wet the bed throughout that time.
‘It continued to be more of an issue … I thought what I was doing was wrong, so whatever happened to me I just accepted as punishment … I pretty much had an awful time there. The only thing I did enjoy was being in the kitchen after school, because that was a safe area.’
Not long after he went back to live with his mother, Clint began having epileptic seizures. He was sent to a residential hospital in Sydney for an extended period but now believes that this was because he had become a ‘handful at home’. The seizures, he thinks, were brought on by trauma.
When Clint was at home with his mother, there was no routine or stability and his mother would often leave him with various friends or relatives. On one of these occasions, when he was about 13, he was sexually assaulted by a family friend.
Clint knows that his life has been impacted upon by his childhood generally and the abuse specifically.
‘It’s a real mixed bag of lollies because I was never ever a confident person. I was always very, very quiet … My mother was very abusive. She was a terrible mother … The biggest problem of all, the top of the food chain? Gambling.
‘I absolutely have trust issues … It’s a lifelong process. I think for a long time I was pretty angry and I didn’t really trust anyone – but obviously to form relationships you have to.’
Clint has been in a relationship for a long time and is the primary carer for his children. His partner, ‘the very first person that I’d ever met who was honest’, encouraged him to contact the Royal Commission to report his experiences.
He has never met his father and now has very little contact with his mother. Clint feels guilt over a young relative who has been institutionalised since he was a baby because of his health. He feels he should have done more for him.
‘That’s one of the big things that I’ve thought about more than anything, because I know he has been in lots of different circumstances … For a long time I just thought, "Well, I’ve got no right to complain because he’s probably been through a lot worse than me".
'My motivation was to actually say something about my experience, just to make it harder for people that do the wrong thing.’
Clint is philosophical about his life.
‘There’s a lot of things in my life that I don’t know and I wish I did. And I just think there’s some things I’ll probably never know. I just have to deal with that.
‘I’ve accepted that there’s always going to be so much turmoil in my life and I’ve just got to keep a lid on it.’