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Coby's story

‘I didn’t even know I had brothers and sisters because my dad took me away.’

Coby was separated from his mother when he was a baby and for a while he had no contact with her and his siblings. His father took him away to a regional town to raise him but his drug addiction meant he was unable to do so. As a result Coby spent most of his childhood at his grandparents’ house in another state.

Throughout his childhood Coby did a lot of travelling back and forth between his father and grandparents, and went to many different primary schools. He was keen to complete school as didn’t want to end up like his dad.

In the late 2000s, when Coby was 14, he and his friends were part of a large group that would hang out at the YMCA club and join in on sporting activities. He loved it when his best friend, Jordan, came along with the group. Hanging at the YMCA was the cool thing to do after school. ‘There were about 20 kids; the youngest was 12, and we’d run amok.’

Jordan’s mother, Elaine, worked at the youth club and would often supervise the boys. She was quite ‘touchy feely’ at the club, always wanting hugs, and liked to have the boys around at her place after they’d finished for the afternoon. She gave Coby and the boys a lift to her house after her shift, and let them stay the night.

At first Coby thought Elaine was cool because she liked to buy them all alcohol and marijuana, but it wasn’t long before things changed and he began feeling uncomfortable around her. She started drinking with the boys and would join in on their conversations. Wherever Coby went, Elaine followed and would laugh too loudly at his jokes or touch his arm.

‘When she was drunk, she was a bit too close for comfort. Especially with your mate there, when your mate’s mum is too close to you, your mate’s sitting down like [what’s going on?]. I’d move over and give it a bit of space but nothing changed.’

One night after a heavy drinking session Coby was close to passing out in one of the rooms in Jordan and Elaine’s house. Elaine came in to comfort him and started touching him and before he could say anything they were having sex. He went along with it but didn’t want it to happen: he was in a relationship with someone else, and Elaine was his best mate’s mother and much older than him.

Coby was ashamed of what happened and couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone, especially Jordan. He tried his hardest to stay away from Elaine but she was persistent. She was always around at the youth club and went out of her way to talk to him.

This abuse occurred two more times after hard drinking sessions at Elaine’s house. Coby never initiated it but he felt he didn’t have an option as she blackmailed him and threatened to tell everyone what they’d been doing.

‘I didn’t want to but she kept at it. She said, “I’ll tell your missus”, and I didn’t want her to tell my high-school sweetheart. To tell you the truth, I shit myself. I did it again so she wouldn’t open her mouth.’

Coby was relieved when Elaine’s family had a big fight as after this he and his friends weren’t allowed to go to her house anymore. This meant he only saw her at the club, and several weeks later he stopped going to that too.

After the abuse Coby’s school grades dropped and he stopped caring about his education. He started hanging with the wrong crowd and by the time he was 17 he had a drug habit. He felt uncomfortable around older women and did not trust anyone.

Coby barely passed his final school exams. He was able to get work on a cattle station but that didn’t last long. Just before he turned 18 he committed several criminal offences and was admitted to a detention centre. He stayed there until he was old enough to be moved to an adult jail. ‘I just had no goals, I did what I had to do to get money.’

There was no way that Coby would report Elaine to the police. He was too scared to do it and he didn’t think the police would believe him because he was in trouble too much. Plus Coby was still mates with Jordan and he didn’t want to ruin that.

Coby has since reconnected with his mother and siblings. He enjoys them visiting him in prison and is looking forward to seeing them once he is released. He came to the Royal Commission to have his story heard and to keep kids safe from perpetrators like Elaine.

‘I just didn’t think a woman could be capable of this … It’s like some off food, it makes you sick.’

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