Dudley has mild cognitive impairment. He was born into a large family in 1950s Victoria. Dudley believes his father was damaged by his wartime experience as he was a violent and paranoid man. ‘My father used to throw knives at us.’ When he was eight years old Dudley was made a ward of the state and removed from his home, along with numerous siblings. ‘I never had no childhood with my mother’, Dudley told the Commissioner.
Dudley lived in two children’s homes run by the state government until he was 15. Discipline was harsh – Dudley recalls frequently being ‘given a belting’. ‘I started wetting my bed. What was the reason for that? Can you tell me the reason for that? Frightened. I was frightened what was going to happen next day.’
He was also sexually abused by caretakers at each children’s home, and said ‘I have been touched’. The men would come at night and lie with Dudley on his bed in the dormitory.
One of the homes was located near an old people’s residence. Dudley recalls an older man confronting him at the rear of the children’s home and paying Dudley threepence, ‘to touch us up’.
Sexual contact was common and open at the homes.
‘Girls used to sit on the attendant’s knees. Where was the attendant’s hand? You can guess where it was. We was touched too. They were teaching us the wrong thing and we thought it was the right thing.’
There was also abuse of children by their contemporaries, all of which Dudley blames for leading him to abuse children later in his life.
‘In those days there was a lot of touching … I touch them because they used to touch me … When I got out of the home I started doing the same thing and it got me in trouble.’
Dudley has put his own offending in the past as he’s learnt to understand what happened to him. He stated that his last offence was over a quarter of a century ago.
Dudley believes his life has been blighted by his abusive father, the neglect of his state carers and the physical and sexual abuse he suffered. He has not reported the abuse he experienced to anyone and he doesn’t trust the police. He’s been in trouble with the law for much of his life and has spent time in jail.
Dudley has battled depression and has attempted suicide. ‘I took 99 Panadol tablets.’
The abuse has stayed with Dudley and the memories still trouble him. ‘I still remember. It makes me sick thinking of it.’