The first memory Dieter has is of his older brother sitting on his chest, while he struggled to breathe and turned blue. He describes his upbringing as like ‘banging your hand with a hammer and waiting for a good outcome. It was just ridiculous. I have nothing to do with my family now’.
When he was 16 years old, Dieter drank a bottle of vodka at a party. Heavily intoxicated, he became very emotional about his family situation, and punched a car on the street. Deciding he could not go home as it felt ‘unsafe’, he made his way to a friend’s place and started calling out for him.
Neighbours called police because of the commotion, and Dieter was taken to the local station in the Hunter region of New South Wales.
Even after showing the police his school bus pass and identification, they did not believe he was a child. ‘And I even said, “Look I don’t think I’m supposed to be here, I’m 16”. And they put me in one of the cells.’
Dieter fell asleep, and woke up to a big bikie kicking him. Two smaller men from the same gang looked on. ‘I remember the guy that was kicking me came and sat next to me, and started to get sort of friendly with me, and he wanted to kiss me and all this sort of stuff ... I remember pushing him way and fighting him off.’
The others soon began fighting Dieter. ‘At one stage, they grabbed me by my arms and they ran me into the concrete wall.’ He was knocked out shortly after.
‘When I came to, I was laying on my back, and they were holding my legs up over my body. And they were doing something to my bottom, sticking their fingers in there, and that sort of stuff ... I said, “Why are you doing this to me?” And they said, “Because we’re enjoying it”.’
The men also inserted torn off pieces of mattress into his anus, and laughed at this. ‘I’m pretty sure they didn’t use penis penetration, because then that would make it seem wrong for them.’
Two policemen watched the abuse take place. ‘And the look on their eyes, not at them but they looked directly at me, was of disgust. There wasn’t sympathy.’
Dieter started screaming, and blacked out again. He was naked when he regained consciousness. He overheard two of the bikies speaking about how they could not let what happened get out, and so had to kill him.
Because of this, he pretended not to remember the abuse when they spoke to him. They also urinated on his clothes, then made him put them back on.
The next morning the police released Dieter from custody. As he walked out, he considered telling the desk sergeant about the abuse, but thought ‘if you report this, you’ll never step out of here alive’.
As he left the station, more bikies waited outside, and asked him ‘to play some more with us’. He walked to the taxi rank, and made his way home.
His parents wanted to know where he had been, as he had bruises on his face. He told them about the sexual abuse, but there was no empathy.
His father only ‘asked, “What do you expect me to do?”, and walked away’. His mother insisted on taking photographs ‘of my bottom and that sort of stuff,’ saying, ‘oh you’ve been fucked up the arse’.
He did not get any medical attention or other support, and did not make a police report at this stage. A couple of months later, his mother asked him if he was alright and he said, yes, he was fine. ‘But since that day, I haven’t gone to the toilet and had a poo without it hurting, it’s as simple as that.’
The abuse also had serious impacts on his marks at school. ‘I failed life, for so long.’
Dieter became very angry – ‘besides the anger ... I felt like nothing’ – and used marijuana, speed and heroin to self-medicate. ‘I sought out drugs, on purpose. It wasn’t by accident.’ He ‘thoroughly enjoyed’ his drug use, and ‘stumbled and crashed myself through life’.
Dieter did not disclose the abuse to anyone else until he was 28, when he told a woman he was seeing. In his mid-30s, he was still using drugs, and began telling strangers about it.
Driving past a police station one day, he decided to stop in and make a report. The officer he spoke to pointedly questioned whether he actually saw the police watching the abuse happen, ‘So I said, I “think” I saw two police officers. But I want to say [now] I definitely saw two police officers’. He has not heard anything more about this matter.
Dieter saw an advertisement for a law firm, and they helped him make a successful victims compensation claim. Although he received a settlement, the process of assessment was difficult, and he feels he was not fully believed about the abuse.
When Dieter met his wife through church, it prompted him to change his life. He cut out most of his drug use, and now only smokes marijuana. ‘I thought, “I’ve met this person who is so different from anyone I’ve ever known. She’s just so grounded, and such a decent person.” I felt that shooting up drugs – it was time to leave it.’
Today, in his late 40s, ‘I’ve never been so happy in my life’, Dieter said. ‘I’ve never understood contentment in life, until I met the woman that I’m with.’