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Edwin James's story

In the late 1990s, when Edwin was 17 years old, he was convicted of a drug-related offence and placed in the boys’ yard within an adult prison in Brisbane. In that section of the prison there was an adult inmate who began to groom Edwin and a couple of the other teenage boys, ‘trying to get us in the cell … he had a cell that was open all the time, he’d try and get us [with] “buy ups” just so he could get us in that room, you know’.

Once Edwin was in the room, the man would sexually abuse him. He knows he isn’t to blame but still feels great shame about the abuse.

‘I don’t want to tell anybody, you know. Very embarrassed … went heavy on the drugs to blank it out. And then realised it is still there.’

Since his abuse he has experienced ‘lots of feelings of anger’ and found it ‘very hard to trust people’. He finds talking to people generally ‘very hard’.

His life has included stints in and out of jail. He finds that the memories of his abuse fade when he is inside.

‘It’s funny, when I’m in jail it kind of goes away but when I’m back out there it hits me again.’

Usually, this would mean that Edwin would take illicit drugs to mask his trauma and wind up back in jail. When he is released this time though, he is hoping to ‘break the cycle’ of drugs and jail.

‘I’ve got a counsellor that I speak to on the phone every couple of weeks … I think getting out [of jail] to more counselling will be good.’

Edwin is now in his 30s and first disclosed his sexual abuse to this counsellor this year. He has never reported the abuse to police or prison authorities as he still fears retribution from his abuser who is still alive and known in the prison community, another reason he is determined to stay outside this time.

Edwin is waiting to hear about possible compensation and wants to find ways to cope with the effects of his abuse on the outside. His partner and children have always been very supportive of him.

‘They’re great. Come up every week.’

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