Deacon’s family moved to Australia from the United Kingdom in the 1970s, when he was five years old. Arriving in Victoria, the family spent the first year living in a migrant hostel, where there was no supervision or separation of children from single men. It was here that Deacon met Matias, a 30-something migrant from South America.
Matias was very affectionate with Deacon. He would give him small gifts and often tell him ‘You’re my friend, Deacon, you’re my friend. I love you, my friend’. Because Deacon’s father was busy looking for work and his mother was occupied with their other children, his parents were very pleased that Matias was looking after him.
One afternoon Matias and Deacon were playing soccer in the centre’s garden. They stopped to have a rest when Deacon noticed Matias ‘was sitting down on the ground with his legs open and his balls hanging out with his hand around it at the time’.
On a subsequent occasion, Deacon went over to the fence to urinate when Matias ‘walked next to me, stood right next to me and brought his dick out and he started pulling it. And then he’s laughing, you know, like it was a game. And I was watching and I was trying to copy him. I remember that. And he had his arm around me at the time’.
One afternoon Matias was looking after Deacon while his parents were busy. ‘I was in his room. It was just the two of us, it was summer. Had just little pyjama shorts on. I was sitting on his lap and reading my book. And I felt him kissing on my neck and started breathing heavy. And he was saying “You’re my friend, Deacon. You’re my friend. I love you, my friend”.’
Deacon cannot fully recall all the events that followed, but remembers he wet himself at that moment, and froze while Matias removed his pyjama shorts and tried to rape him.
‘He took me into the shower and he started masturbating in the shower, and … he reached down and he grabbed me ... The water was coming down in my face and I couldn’t see properly, I couldn’t breathe properly. But I know what he did. So obviously when he tried to penetrate me I don’t think he got off, so he finished it off in the shower.’
Not long after this incident Deacon started attending primary school but wet himself in class when the teacher brought out books to read. Being six years old and not understanding what had happened to him, he didn’t disclose the abuse to his teacher or his parents.
In the following years after leaving the hostel, Deacon became the ‘black sheep’ of the family. He started smoking marijuana and drinking heavily in his teens. ‘I smoked marijuana since I was about 15 … It seemed to make me relax and I seemed to like it. When I was 18 I started drinking. I didn’t just drink, I would wipe myself right off … I was always working hard, I was a workaholic … I never could relax, found it hard to relax.’ He had several car crashes around this time due to drink driving.
Deacon managed to largely block out his memories of the abuse and had several relationships, one of which resulted in children. This gave him the incentive to stop drinking, which he was able to do successfully.
‘I didn’t remember any of the abuse until I was 35. But I did remember little things in my childhood and as an early teen.
‘It was when my oldest daughter … she was five or four. She was sitting on my lap, reading a book … And I started getting little flashbacks … Then it snowballed …
‘I started getting these flashbacks and I put enough together to realise “Fuck, this did happen” … By that stage I was having some sort of psychotic episode … I wasn’t sleeping, I couldn’t eat, I was crying all the time. Crying, I couldn’t stop crying … I had three kids at the time. It’s not really good for them, you know.’
Deacon reported the abuse to the police but the investigation did not progress because there was no record of a man called Matias at the migrant hostel. While making the report, he was asked by the police why he was in the shower with an offender, which made him feel as though he was being blamed for the abuse.
He made a claim for compensation with the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VCAT), and was awarded $50,000, which he used to pay for drug and alcohol counselling. ‘Had my counselling … I was diagnosed with PTSD, distorted sexual psyche, personality disorders and depression or something like that.’
His psychiatrist prescribed high dosages of anti-psychotic medication, but because of the demotivating effect, Deacon took himself off the medication and returned to work. ‘I’m a self-medicator. I still do. Marijuana’s the only thing that slows me down. I don’t drink any more. I’ve still got a bit of work to do, but yeah.’
Not long after receiving compensation Deacon disclosed the abuse to his parents.
‘When I first told my parents after I went to VCAT they said “What? You’re smoking too much marijuana, son. You’re off your head”. A week later the pair of them were bawling their fucking eyes out. And my old man was saying “I knew there was something about him”. And Mum’s crying … But yeah after they thought about it, it fucked them up too.’
Deacon’s mother has since died and his father is living in a facility for patients with dementia. He has stopped seeing a psychiatrist but continues to self-medicate with marijuana and meditation. He has successfully managed to stop drinking and, although he is no longer in a relationship with their mother, he has a very strong relationship with his children.
Deacon still experiences flashbacks but is happy he has been able to fully remember the abuse so he can better control his memories. Even so ‘sometimes I wish I didn’t remember it’.