Edward sustained a brain injury when he was 12 years old. About a year later he was made a ward of the State of Victoria. From this time until he turned 18, Edward moved many times, living in residential care, foster care and youth detention. He believes he was a target for abuse because of his disability. He told the Commissioner, ‘People have just … pinned me up against a wall, you know, and used me as a dartboard’.
Although Edward can’t recall exactly how old he was when certain events happened, he can distinctly remember the abuse itself. At one point, around the age of 13, he was introduced to Robert Andrews who had some kind of role with the local Christian church. Andrews was in his 50s or 60s at the time and became a family friend. He used to take Edward on driving trips interstate. ‘He tried to be me mate.’ One night, when Edward was staying the weekend at Andrews’s home, ‘he invited me into his bedroom and started doing things with me and stuff, and making me do things to him’.
When Edward returned home he told his mother who was ‘furious’. He believes she might have confronted Andrews, who denied anything had happened.
In foster care, Edward was ‘shuffled around through the system … I was screwed up in the mind. They didn’t really wanna hear me at all’.
After being placed on remand in a residential care facility for boys, he was frequently physically, verbally and sexually abused by the older boys. Cells were locked at night, yet other inmates would enter his cell. He doesn’t know how they got in.
In a written statement Edward brought to the Commission, he describes an incident where he was threatened by a boy who forced him to perform ‘sexual favours’. Edward knew if he didn’t he would be ‘dealt with’ by some of the others. Edward was too scared to tell the guards, who he believes were unaware of the abuse. However, he does recall that some of the inmates were looking out for him because he had a brain injury.
At another residential facility that Edward was frequently admitted to, he was again intimidated and forced to perform sexual favours. He reported the abuse to an officer, but this got back to the perpetrators and Edward was physically assaulted as payback. He often felt he needed to defend himself in these institutions but was always blamed as the ‘aggressor’.
At some point in his early life Edward tried to report Andrews’s sexual abuse, but he was locked up at the time and ‘the police did not believe anything had happened. Nothing’.
Later he tried to tell a youth support organisation about his abuse. ‘They just put me back out the door again as well.’
Edward was educated to primary school level and studied further once he was incarcerated at age 18. He has been in and out of jail most of his adult life and has also been on numerous medications ‘that made me an absolute mess … destroyed me life’. He has a long psychiatric history and has been admitted many times to mental health facilities. He has difficulty with friendships and relationships, but is in contact with most of his family and is close to his mother.
Edward went to Towards Healing in relation to abuse he experienced at a Catholic boys’ home. However, last year his claims were found to be unsubstantiated due to lack of evidence.
In recent years, even though he can’t forget the events of the past, Edward has started to turn his life around. He hasn’t been incarcerated for about five years and has good support from a counsellor, who came with him to the Royal Commission. He’s also learning techniques to control his anger.
‘I’m trying to keep me head above water and just march on and not put myself into any positions I don’t need to be in.’