Cory Benjamin's story

Cory’s parents ‘couldn’t care for me properly’ as they were heavy drinkers, and there was violence in the family home. As a result, Cory was made a state ward and spent many years moving between foster homes, residential care facilities, and group homes.

In the early 1980s, when Cory was eight years old, he was placed in a Salvation Army boys’ home in Melbourne – and was sexually abused by officers who worked there. One of these men would offer him rewards for complying with the abuse, like watching a movie, ‘and he’d do some not very nice stuff you know. And a lot of the time I’d freeze’.

Another would fondle him when checking if he had wet the bed (‘that was the excuse’).

‘I didn’t like the place, it was very scary ... I ran away a couple of times, because I didn’t like the place and what was going on.’

One time when Cory ran away from the home he disclosed the sexual abuse to a police officer to explain why he had left, but this report was ignored and he was taken back to the home.

‘And then because I’d told the police, they’d obviously said something to one of them and then the day after that I copped a beat of a beating, and was told to, “Keep your mind and your mouth shut”, type of thing – “No-one will believe you anyway, you’re a runaway, no-one wants you, your family doesn’t want you” and stuff like that ... I didn’t have anyone who could help me.’

Cory was also sexually abused in many of his foster homes. ‘It happened way too many times than what I’d expect. I didn’t expect any of it to tell you the truth. And it seemed like every second place sort of thing. I’d turn up, within a few weeks or a month or so there was someone of that nature there, trying to do that type of thing. Most of the time it was either the father or a place where they would take you.’

At least a couple of times he was abused by clergy when dropped off at church activities by foster parents, including once during a movie night on a church camp. His experiences at group homes were ‘even worse’, and during his childhood ‘the only time I felt safe was when I ran away’.

As a young adult ‘I became very confused and stuff, I didn’t really know whether I was straight or gay’ and he ‘ended up with very bad trust issues which led me to get into trouble a lot’.

Cory never finished his education and can’t really read or write. He has attempted suicide a couple of times, and has a significant history of drug use and drug-related criminal offending. ‘I ran away when I was nearly 16, and I ran away from everyone, blocked off everything. I became a very bad drug user, and ended up in trouble on and off.’ Although he no longer uses heroin every day he occasionally relapses, and he still smokes marijuana regularly.

It is hard for him to recall many details of his placements, the names of families he lived with or people who abused him, partially because of this drug use and having moved around so frequently, encountering so many people. ‘Basically I wrecked my brain a bit, but I remember some things very strongly.’

Cory has ‘bad anxiety issues, and I also have bipolar as well’, and is currently taking medication to manage his mental health. ‘It’s just a bit manageable more because I’m sort of used to it. Because I’m older now, I sort of know what comes along with it, and I try my best, I try more these days than I did in the past ... Now I guess I sort of put a hard drug aside for a lighter drug. I find it very hard to deal with life, just because of what happened to me in these six years, seven years you know.’

Recently Cory has reconnected with his mother ‘which is something good’, and she advised him to investigate his legal options. As yet he has not reported any of the abuse he experienced to the police. ‘As an adult I didn’t because, when I did bring it up when I was younger, I was always told not to bother.’

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