Douglas was born in Queensland in the late 1970s and given up by his birth parents when he was eight months old.
He grew up with foster parents, who later adopted him, but he didn’t have a happy childhood and still refers to them as his foster parents. His foster mother was a sex worker and the family, which included other kids, moved around a lot so Douglas was forever changing schools.
Douglas said he was always treated differently to the other kids. ‘Every day there was something wrong and I got a flogging for it.’
Later, when he was a teenager, his foster mother told him he had been sexually abused by his foster father.
‘My foster mum said I was abused by him when I was a baby but I don’t remember. I remember him punching me around when I was a kid but not sexually abusing me … I just ignored her, I thought she was talking shit again. But he did go down for abuse of his own daughter, he got nine months for it.’
When he was about seven, his foster parents placed him in a children’s home for about two weeks, although he doesn’t know why. One night, one of the workers came into the dormitory and came to Douglas’s bed and made him perform oral sex on him.
It only happened once and Douglas didn’t speak about it to anyone until he got older.
When he was about 11, Douglas’s foster parents separated and he was living with his foster father. One of his foster father’s friends, Alan Morgan, came over frequently and abused Douglas on multiple occasions.
‘All I know is my foster father said he could sleep in my room … and that started from there. He abused me while I was asleep and I woke up.’
Morgan would bribe Douglas with cigarettes and driving lessons in exchange for sexual favours.
‘I thought he was a normal person. I just thought it was part of growing up … I didn’t tell anyone, I didn’t think anyone would believe me.’
By the time he was 14, Douglas was a ward of the state and living in a different foster home. As his schooling had been so disrupted he was sent to a special school to help him catch up. One of the teachers at that school sexually abused him.
Douglas reported it to the school counsellor, the headmaster called the police and the teacher was charged. However, Douglas was not coping well and had a mental breakdown.
‘The person who abused me I had to face him in court and I didn’t want to … I thought I’ve had enough of this so I took some pills, 160 of them. My heart stopped for four minutes, I ended up in hospital.’
When he was 15, Douglas was sent to a Catholic-run boys’ home where he was abused by one of the Brothers.
‘They had a chart and if you got good behaviour you could do riding bikes or you could do horse riding. So I always got motorbikes. The Brother was in charge of the motorbikes.’
The Brother made Douglas perform oral sex on him every Friday morning and every Sunday after church. Douglas said, ‘I couldn’t tell my cottage parents because it turns out he was abusing children too – one of the cottage parents.’
He wasn’t at the home for long because he ran away.
When he was 17, Douglas was back living with his foster mother but they had a fight and he was jailed for assaulting her. Since then, he has been in jail for most of his adult life. In stints on the outside he had various relationships but nothing ever lasted. He has three children from different mothers but he is not in contact with them.
In a strange twist of fate, Douglas ended up sharing a cell with one of his abusers, Alan Morgan. Morgan failed to acknowledge what he had done to Douglas as a child.
‘He’s not that kind of person, he’s a real spiteful person. I said he abused me when I was a kid. He didn’t say anything … I belted him up a few times just to get even with him.’
Douglas and Morgan then became involved in an altercation with another inmate who died, and Douglas is now serving a long sentence for that attack and its consequences.
Douglas tried to have Morgan charged for the crimes he committed against him as a child but it came to nothing. However, he did successfully sue the teacher from the special school and received financial compensation.
With such a long history of childhood trauma, Douglas has suffered significant mental health problems and has attempted suicide a few times. He has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and has frequent panic attacks.
He said a lasting impact has been his inability to have ‘normal’ relationships.
‘It takes a lot of work. I don’t really talk to people in here, just a few. I mostly stick to myself, I do my own time. I’m not going to be a good father to my kids because of the way I am. That’s why I never wanted to contact them.’
However he does want to contact his children when he gets out and have some kind of relationship with them.
Douglas said he keeps busy in jail, working on his literacy and numeracy skills. He also receives regular counselling and finds his panic attacks don’t last as long as they used to. Most of all, he is just serving his time.
‘I can be aggressive but I choose not to be. Just to be at peace with myself.’