‘Because of this assault, it lead to me being a real, real nasty person. And only just recently ... I thought, hang on a minute, you are the one that’s got to change your life ... I got children of my own as well, and they’re being brought up in welfare, and they’re going through exactly what I went through. So now I need to be out there for my kids as support, because I had nobody.’
Earl has been an angry, violent man for many years.
For the most part he remembers being a ‘pretty ordinary’ and ‘happy-go-lucky’ child early on, although he would go and hide in the cupboard when his dad starting beating his mum. When his mother died his father abandoned the children, and various relatives tried to look after them.
They became Western Australian state wards and the welfare department placed Earl in the care of an aunt, who he remembers as ‘a grumpy old bitch’. He presumes she fostered him ‘just for the money – there wasn’t no love’.
It was the early 1980s and another of his aunt’s nephews, Danny, was also staying at the house. Danny was in his mid-teens and raped nine-year-old Earl in a vicious and violent attack. The injuries Earl sustained were so severe he had to go to hospital, where he was given stitches.
At the hospital Earl spoke with police, but ‘they didn’t do anything at the time, because they said it was my word against his basically ... I got told to grow up, and start acting like a man’.
Even though he required medical treatment, his aunt said she did not believe him about the assault, and gave him a hiding for disclosing it. However, Danny immediately stopped living at the house, and Earl thinks he was possibly thrown out by another relative. Earl tried to live with his aunt again, but only lasted a short while.
‘I was put in a boys’ home because the family reckoned they couldn’t control me. Because I became very angry.’
Staff there examined his anus ‘trying to prove I was molested’, and psychologically abused him regarding the rape. ‘Because I made that accusation, I was a poofter and all this sort of stuff.’
As a teenager Earl started getting into trouble with the law, including for violent offences, and spent years in juvenile detention. ‘Because of my anger, I was more time locked up in the cell than out.’
He moved straight into adult prison when he was old enough, and has been further incarcerated multiple times.
Earl got married and had kids, several of whom are still in the care of the state. He is very angry that one of his sons was sexually abused after being removed from his and his wife’s care.
‘I know I’m not a perfect parent, but my kids weren’t abused. They were never abused until they went out of my care, into the other care.’
Earl has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. ‘Lately I’ve been hitting the heroin and the alcohol. I’ve tried to kill myself six times while I’ve been in jail.’ He’s prescribed anti-depressants, but these just make him feel ‘dopey’, which he doesn’t like.
It is only recently that Earl has started discussing the rape, during counselling he sought to help him cope with his emotions. ‘I had to learn how to control my anger, really ... I couldn’t see eye to eye with my missus, things like that. I couldn’t see eye to eye with the children’s ways. I wasn’t coping. So I had to learn a skill to do that. And I did.’
During counselling it was suggested to Earl that he might want to make another police report, and he did so around six months before he spoke to the Commissioner. Now he has made a full statement about what Danny did to him, and the investigation is ongoing.
He is also aware that Danny raped another young relative several times, and believes he was charged with other child sex offences in the past. ‘If I had my way, I’d put a bullet in his head.’
Earl hopes that now he’s having counselling, and has spoken with police, he might be able to find new ways of interacting with his family and community when he’s released from jail.
‘Hopefully this time here, when I do get out, I can get off my backside and get a house. And do things right for once.’