‘You didn’t understand much about sex, but you knew that them touching you in certain places just didn’t make you feel good.’
Everett was born in the 1950s, and taken into care in his early teens as his mother could no longer look after him. He moved around a few different homes before being placed into a Salvation Army training farm in regional Queensland as a 14 year old.
He was frequently physically and psychologically abused by staff at the home, and the boys were not given proper food. ‘I also worked in the dairy and the kitchen. I would sneak strawberry jam for the boys. The quality of the food was very poor. The fruit would come from what was rejected from the markets. It was meant for the animals. The soup would sit overnight and have flies and maggots in it. We had to eat it anyway.’
On one occasion Everett was sexually abused by Captain Timmins. This incident happened in the dairy, where the officer made him strip down and get on all fours then hit him with a crop. He is not certain what happened next, but thinks Captain Timmins may have used an animal to sexually abuse him.
‘It was either the dog or he shoved a crop up my rear end ... I remember something sharp on my back ... I remember I bled from my rear end for about two weeks. And you had to hide it.’
He also knew that other boys were being sexually abused at the home. ‘I slept with my pocket knife for fear of being sexually assaulted. I remember officers leaning over boys in bed at night. Some boys did talk about it.’
As a teenager he was sent to work on a farm and ‘was more or less interfered with then by the boss’s wife’. This woman ‘used to come in and wake you up in the mornings, and she’d touch you in the private area, and saying she was just waking you up. And one morning she woke me up and she was sitting on top of me. Well I didn’t understand the implications at the time’. After his work there ended he was sent back to the home.
It was not until Everett was an adult that he ever spoke about any of his experiences at the home. He received compensation from the Salvation Army after telling them about the physical and psychological abuse, but could not bring himself to disclose the sexual abuse in any way.
He did not report the sexual abuse to the state government redress scheme either, as he finds it embarrassing to talk about. ‘I could have got more money possibly from the government if I’d mentioned it but it was the sort of thing that, I don’t know, you were afraid to tell anyone I suppose.’
Although he does not want to engage with counselling, his GP helps him manage his mental health. ‘I’ve been to the doctor, I’m on drugs for that. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks.’
Because the abuse happened so long ago, and Captain Timmins is now deceased, Everett does not hold any anger towards the current organisation. ‘The Salvos today are helping a lot more people. We can’t hold what the others done against them. And it took me years to realise I can’t blame the new generation for the older generation ... You do meet some good people in life, and you do meet some good Salvation Army.’