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Colin John's story

I don’t want this happening to any more people, especially my kind, I’m … Aboriginal, and it’s a big thing … it hurts metaphysically when we are sexually abused.’

By the mid 1990s, Colin’s parents had separated. He wasn’t yet four years old. As a result of their split, and their alcoholism, he moved around a lot and had a very unstable childhood.

‘I got to the age of 10, going through primary school, I started misbehaving, running away from home because I was grounded nearly every day, had no toys, I couldn’t do nothing – the basic “get me out of there” … I started fighting with my mum … I hit my mum … I just didn’t want to be there.’

Colin was made a ward of the state in Queensland.

‘My 11th birthday I got handed to a child welfare organisation and … was in foster care.’

His behaviour didn’t improve and his life remained unstable.

‘I was with multiple foster carers. I was changing every three or four weeks to a different foster carer … I had one person that held me for 18 months.’

However, in that long-term foster care situation, Colin was repeatedly sexually abused by the foster father.

‘That kind of really messed me up really badly … I still have flashbacks.’

When Colin turned 18 years old he left foster care but ended up meeting the wrong crowd.

‘Started doing heavy drugs which lead me into doing break and enters and doing armed robberies to get more money to get more drugs … that started my jail journey.’

The abuse impacted Colin’s life significantly.

‘I’ve tried to cover it with drugs. I’ve tried to cover it with violence. That doesn’t work … It’s like … what can I do to get rid of it? I can’t. It’s happened to me.’

Speaking to the Royal Commission was a significant step in Colin’s personal acknowledgement of what happened to him.

‘It’s taken me ages … I don’t talk to nobody. The only person I’ve really spoken to about all this is my partner and she knows a lot about me. I’ve bottled this up for years and I said to her I need to release some of this anger.’

Colin has attempted to take his life twice but now wants to get some help to deal with his abuse. He has begun the process to access his welfare records so he can begin to think about making a statement to police and possibly seek compensation. He also wants to be able to talk about his abuse to help others. His advice for anyone living with sexual abuse is ‘don’t be ashamed of it.’

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