Eddy John's story

Eddy and his brother were placed in a foster home in regional New South Wales in the early 1970s, when Eddy was about four or five years old. The foster mother was a cruel and abusive woman.

‘I was beaten up and hit with a jug cord all over me and mostly in the genitals while I was in the nude every morning, for wetting the bed. That went on for a long time … I was being smashed in the genitals all the time.

‘And at night, when I was caught having a drink of water, I was stripped then flogged with a jug cord, and then taken outside and told to stand in the middle of the yard in the nude with smashed glass around me. I could not move an inch.’

When he was allowed to come back into the house, he had to walk through the broken glass in bare feet.

‘I was beaten so much … I woke up one morning and I couldn’t move. I spent some time in hospital getting over it.

‘My nerves are shot. I have never had a good sleep … Sometimes I had to eat out of the bin. Sometimes her husband was there. Why didn’t he help me? It was total hell.’

Eddy still carries significant injuries and trauma from these beatings.

‘Every day I wake up, my injury reminding me of it all the time, and here I am trying to shut it out but it never lets me forget. So I never forget … I’m pretty angry about it all.’

Eddy and his brother were eventually taken out of foster care and placed in boys’ homes. Eddy found the boys’ homes much easier living, despite being ‘hard’ and ‘like prison’. He and his brother were in the same homes.

‘I always had that backup, even though he might have been in a different cottage … I always knew he was there.’

Eddy’s education was further interrupted when he was made to leave the welfare system when he turned 16 years old.

‘They throw me into the city to go look for work. Straight off, I’m fending for myself. Here I am in Year 9, wanting to finish my school years – it just never happened … My nerves are shot, all the time … When it comes to work, I’d like to work and I try to work. It’s not easy because of my injuries.’

Eddy has spent significant time in jail. He believes his life was completely changed by his abuse.

‘My life has never been what I’ve wanted it to be. I wanted to have kids, have family. I can’t have kids … I don’t know if I can or not but I’ve always said to myself I would never have kids myself. And that was just reflecting on what I’d been through – I’d never have them … It’s just wrecked my whole life.’

Eddy hasn’t told anyone except his father, a lawyer and the Commissioner about his years of abuse.

‘I told my father – he committed suicide after I told him. It’s just unbelievable pain. You don’t mean to give them pain but when you explain things … and I was angry at him when I talked to him about it. He just felt really bad.’

In the past few years, Eddy has been able to access his welfare records and gain some perspective on his young life. He has yet to read all of them but was able to use some of them to prepare to talk to the Commissioner.

‘It was hard to open the book. I choose to block it out, I just can’t go there. But I did only because I don’t want it to happen to anyone else. It helps me to help someone.’

Eddy still doesn’t understand how other people – teachers, doctors and nurses – didn’t know, or do something about his abuse.

‘Even when I was in hospital, I thought I’d get help. But when you’re young you don’t realise what help is. You don’t ask for it … I never recalled anyone coming around to see if I was okay. Not from the homes or nothing like that. “Are you okay, Eddy? Is everything okay? Everything fine?” No.’

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