Doug Alan's story

‘I have always considered that I never had a childhood … I cannot stress enough that children deserve a childhood without adopting childhood in a survival mode.’

In a statement to the Royal Commission, Doug wrote: ‘I am very tired and weary of recalling the past. I just wish … the issues and reminders of the past that always [seemed] to be sitting in a box on a shelf for [over 50] years, would just disappear altogether’.

Doug has never told anyone the specific details of his childhood trauma.

When he was five, Doug’s parents separated and his father placed him and his siblings into care in New South Wales. ‘I was a [resident] of two children’s homes … The second home was … run by the United Protestant Association … I then went to live with non-relatives to the age of [nearly 13] … [and then went] to live with my father.’

The first children’s home Doug went to in the early 1960s was run by a couple and ‘for many years I could only think of them with the word, “cruel” to describe their behaviour toward me … I do not wish to speak about it. It is a mixture of embarrassment [and] shame in the way I was treated. They had no genuine kindness, consideration and no fairness …

‘I remember once, when they were being extremely degrading towards me, I was thinking, “Why are they doing this? I have done nothing wrong. Why? Why?” It still haunts me today. I feel strongly that I would fall apart if I went into the details and [started] describing the events. I was [a] victim of their hostility and lies.’

Doug told the Commissioner that at the second children’s home, ‘what [happened] to me would have put someone in prison then and now if reported’. Doug and other boys were sexually abused by a worker at the home, who took them on outings and then booked into hotels. There, he would drug their milk and sexually abuse them.

Doug never reported the abuse.

‘As a small child away from any family … you have no one to trust, to talk to and to confide with. I learnt from a very early age that to survive was not to speak up, not to draw attention to yourself. I knew then that the less you say, the less you can get into trouble … Adults do not always believe what children say.’

Doug believes that he survived childhood sexual abuse, ‘at a cost. The cost of unpleasant memories and the ramifications that it carries, that continues to resurface … I am still a person that mostly [lives] life quietly in comparison to others. This is despite having an outward appearance of having friends and appearing to socialise reasonably well’.

Doug married and had children and commented to the Commissioner that ‘when you have children … you see children that age and you think, when you were that age … It influences how you bring your own children up, and so forth’.

After Doug saw a program on television about child sexual abuse, he contacted the United Protestant Association and they paid for him to attend 20 sessions of counselling with Relationships Australia. Although the counselling was helpful, he did not reveal any details of the sexual abuse to his counsellor.

Doug would like to see that ‘all workers and volunteers [in institutions] … can report … child sexual abuse … knowing that [there] are policies, procedures and checklists in place that are practical to use and provide fairness to all parties, and that reporting will be treated seriously, professionally, confidentially and without any repercussions … to the person reporting’.

Doug is unsure whether or not to seek compensation for the sexual abuse he experienced at the Protestant children’s home. ‘I do think at times that seeking … compensation may be a significant way for me to put the past further behind. Then maybe the past can be put in a box and be buried in six tonnes or more of concrete … never to resurface again in any form.’

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