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Dante's story

Dante didn’t socialise with other children when he was little, as ‘I was always picked on anyway’. His father was a very violent man, who frequently physically abused him, his siblings and their mother. At the age of five, Dante was removed from his family after a domestic dispute and placed in an Anglican children’s home in Sydney’s inner-western suburbs.

He spent a few months at the home in the early 1980s. He only has ‘spotted memories – some of it’s coherent, some of it’s not’ of his time there. One of the male carers would make Dante perform sexual acts with another boy around the same age. Dante thinks this boy ‘may have considered it acceptable behaviour', however, 'I felt uncomfortable, I didn’t know what to think. Maybe I was too weak at the time to recognise it.’

There was nobody there that Dante could tell about this abuse, so he did not disclose it for many years. He has never reported the abuse to police nor sought compensation. After his time at the home, he was returned to his family and wasn’t placed in care again.

Dante told the Royal Commission, ‘I am a loner. I try and be social, I try and be active, and interact with groups of people. Maybe it’s just something about me; nobody really talks to me. I’ve never had a relationship. It’s a big impact.’ Although he tries to engage with people, social connections just ‘never happened for me. Basically I’ve been alone’.

He is unable to live independently, and resides with family members. He has been unsuccessful in securing ongoing employment, despite making thousands of job applications in one year alone – ‘I worked so hard, tried so hard’. However, he has found some casual work, and is undertaking preparation for university studies.

Around a decade ago, ‘my mind started to fracture, and I just didn’t feel comfortable as myself’. He created and assumed ‘two other identities’, which lead to trouble with the law. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression and has a tendency towards hoarding. At times he has felt suicidal.

Engaging with mental health professionals has ‘helped a lot. Just getting out of my own headspace and talking to someone outside my head, outside my family situation. ... There is no-one I can communicate with except my psychologist’.

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