Collin was one of eight siblings growing up in Victoria in the late 1950s. His father was a violent alcoholic who terrorised the family. After leaving his father, his mother could not adequately look after the children on her own, so Collin was made a ward of the state at the age of seven. Although not diagnosed with an intellectual or physical disability, he was placed in a ‘special’ home with three of his brothers. The reason for this is unknown.
When Collin first arrived at the home nothing seemed out of the ordinary. But after living there for about 10 months he discovered it was not a safe place for children.
‘Each night for the first couple of nights it wasn’t so bad, but I saw things that were happening. I see these attendants coming up to kids and that, either dragging them out of bed or doing something under the blanket. And ‘cause I was I s’pose young, stupid and gullible I didn’t know what was going on. And then eventually they started on me.’
Collin was sexually abused by three different employees at the home: Mr Mercer, Mr Kendall and Mr Hooper. Hooper was by far the worst, and Collin later discovered that he also abused his brothers.
‘They used to look at us all the time when we were having showers. And then they’d come up and they’d say “You didn’t wash there” or “You didn’t wash this”, you know. And then they’d start washing them and playing with it. And I thought it was only natural for ‘em to do it, it didn’t bother me. And then at night when Mr Mercer was on he’d start coming up under the blanket, and he’d go to me “Are you wet? Are you wet?” And he’d be playing with it, rubbing it.’
Collin did not report the abuse because his abusers threatened to get him into trouble. The abuse occurred three to four times a week both in the home and outside it. ‘We used to go out on outings. We used to go to the football games up there. I was abused in the toilets there by Hooper.’
When Collin was 16 he left the home and got a job. Somehow, Hooper found out where he was living. He taught Collin how to drive, provided him with a car and drugs, and continued to sexually abuse him until his late teens.
Collin became increasingly confused, started living on the streets and even turned to prostitution ‘a couple of times’. ‘Eventually I got off the streets but then I went and got into drugs. I smoked the marijuana … just to get rid of the pain.’
Soon after, he was sent to prison for child sex-related offences. ‘I was only about 19 to 20 when they locked me up. Two counts of carnal knowledge and that. I was raped and bashed in the prison.’ Collin is deeply ashamed of himself and has tried to take his own life several times. ‘I tried three times to commit suicide, to take the pain, so I don’t hurt anybody else.’
In the early 2010s, he was convicted of similar offences. ‘Now I’m doing the same thing as what they did to me ... I don’t want to be like this.’
Collin has been prescribed medication by the prison psychiatrist for sleeping, anxiety and depression, but believes this is ineffective.
In 2012, Collin was approached by the police in relation to his brother’s allegation of childhood sexual abuse at the home. This gave Collin the opportunity to disclose his own abuse. He later learnt that Hooper has been convicted on one charge, Mercer is dead and Kendall is still alive.
Collin has not sought compensation for the abuse he suffered but hopes to access the specialist sex offender program when consideration will be given to his parole.
‘It’s destroyed my life. The way I behave in front of people, the way I treat people. I don’t trust people. I’m in prison. I want a single cell where I can lock the doors so no one can get in …
‘Try to put it behind me but it just comes back and hits me in the face again.
‘I don’t wanna hurt anybody else.’