Devlin John's story

Devlin was diagnosed with a number of behavioural conditions when he was growing up in the early 2000s, and remembers being ‘always distressed, always not knowing where I fit’. After his parents split up he ‘lost it’ one day at school, becoming violent and uncontrollable.

No longer able to deal with his behaviour, his mother took him to Queensland’s Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, ‘and said “Take him, I don’t want him, I can’t deal with it”’. He stayed with relatives and at some residential facilities before finally being placed in a children’s home run by a Christian organisation when he was 15.

An older boy in the home, Luke, came into Devlin’s room one night and sexually propositioned him. Devlin said no, but Luke called another boy for backup and ‘then he knocked me out’. He woke up to Luke sexually abusing him.

Devlin told the workers at the home what had happened. ‘They said, “We can’t prove it, you know, Luke’s been here longer than you, we believe him over you. Stop trying to start shit ... You’ve come from a broken home, you’re just trying to get attention." So I left it.’

After this Devlin started having fights with boys at school. ‘I never had male friends because of that, I don’t hang around males ... I’d fight with them because I thought they were trying to sleep with me.’

Luke raped Devlin ‘more than 10 times’, and sometimes one of Luke’s friends would hold him down during these assaults. Devlin made several further reports to staff but was again disbelieved.

Because of this response he did not feel there was any point in telling his caseworker about the abuse, in case ‘she had the same kind of opinion’ and did not believe him.

He recently told his mother and she believed him, asking why he had not mentioned it earlier. ‘Mum feels bad she didn’t notice any other signs.’

At one point he spoke to police and asked them how he could make a report, but ‘they didn’t believe me either’ and told him not to bother. He is now considering trying to report the abuse again, particularly as Luke is still young and may be a risk to others.

Devlin became isolated and withdrawn after the abuse, and was involved in crime as a juvenile. He misused alcohol, which caused him problems with family relationships. ‘It was all getting to me ... I only had myself, and I had alcohol. You know what I mean, that’s all I could do ... That was my escape if I was depressed or upset.’ His family are now a good source of support, and he is currently attending weekly counselling.

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