‘I don’t know, it’s just the way things turned out. I don’t know if I can blame what happened, somewhere I’ve got to take responsibility but … that was taken away from me. That was bashed out of me. That was raped out of me. So I didn’t know how to make choices.’
Cyrus explained how difficult it is to get out of entrenched patterns of behaviour. He had been out on bail for two years, he’d managed to get off drugs, was studying part time and playing music, when he found himself involved in an altercation. He reacted badly, things went the wrong way, and he got charged with assault and sent back to prison.
‘I was having issues with anger. Always have, because of my upbringing.’
Cyrus was born in the Middle East in the early 1960s and his family moved to Sydney in the late 1960s. He said the family had trouble adjusting to the new culture.
‘Life was very difficult, going to school and coming home, incorporating the Australian way of life, which is so free and easy compared to how it was [at home]. My parents didn’t know any better. We wanted our freedoms and stuff but they were very strict, my dad especially.’
His father was very violent towards his mother, and also particularly towards him, the youngest of the children. Cyrus said ‘the beltings were unbelievable’. One day when he was about 14, he and his brother came home late from soccer training. His father took it out on him, giving him ‘the worst belting of my life’. He ran away and ended up at Kings Cross railway station in central Sydney, where a man offered to help him.
The man drove him to an abandoned warehouse, then stabbed him with a screwdriver and raped him. He managed to get away and ran out onto a road, where he collapsed, naked. He was found there by police, who took him to the hospital. Cyrus said his biggest concern was that they not tell his parents he’d been raped, and the police complied.
‘I was very ashamed of what happened and I know that in my race, that’s shameful and it’s like they blame you for getting raped. They don’t blame the rapist, they blame you for putting yourself in that position.’
Cyrus said he became uncontrollable and he didn’t know who to trust. He got into trouble for stealing a car, which led to him being sent to a juvenile justice centre. The environment there was physically and emotionally harsh, and he was picked on a lot and called a ‘wog’.
They made him shovel coal for three weeks as punishment for something, until he was so sore and tired he refused to do it. So then he was sent to an isolation unit. One of the officers in charge was Mr Green, who Cyrus said he will never forget.
Green came into the unit, grabbed Cyrus by the back of the neck and pushed his face into the wall. He threatened to kill Cyrus, pulled down his pants and masturbated on him, all the while holding him down. Then he attempted to rape him but Cyrus screamed too much. After he’d finished, he hosed Cyrus down and threw him a towel. This happened three or four times.
Cyrus said, ‘Now that I look back, his whole idea of being there was to rape kids’.
He later found out that Green used to take small groups of kids away on camp, ply them with cigarettes and alcohol, and rape them. ‘It just blew me away. I didn’t know. No one knew. No one knew what was going on back then.’
After about eight months Cyrus ran away but he was caught and served the rest of his sentence in a maximum security centre. He got into drugs and crime, and has spent a lot of his adult life in jail. He never reported the abuse to police, and did not disclose it to anybody until he was 38 and took part in a violence prevention program in prison.
‘This course was the start of my healing … when I told this story, the whole room just cried, including the psychologist, all the other boys that were involved were crying. Up until that point, I thought I was alone. I thought no one else had been raped in this world. I knew that women get raped, girls get raped, but not boys and men. It was unheard of.’
Cyrus got married and had children. His relationship broke down but he adores his children and is extremely proud of their achievements, and that keeps him going. He also has a strong and proud Christian faith, which has helped him a lot. Cyrus said he has forgiven his father for the physical abuse he inflicted, but the impact of the sexual abuse has been huge.
‘I was very, very angry. I had so many physical problems from it … The distress it’s caused is unbelievable. I don’t know where to start. I suffer with anxiety attacks. And this night terror.’
He has violent nightmares all the time, in which he relives the abuse and screams aloud.
‘I do know I’m a very intelligent person and was from the start. Just all this stuff knocked me back so far in life that when I started the violence prevention program, I was pretty much an emotional wreck, a child still emotionally, as I hadn’t grown.
‘I think because of what’s happened to me and the anger that’s put on me, and in me, I’ve lashed out on society growing up. Because all the trust has gone.’
Cyrus has sympathy for people who have been abused and ended up living similar lives to his own.
‘It’s so sad because I’ve met a lot of nice people in jail … you can see it on people’s wrecked faces, on their wrecked lives, you can see it. It’s all over them that they’ve been in that position a long time and they just don’t know how to get out of there.’