Findlay's story

Fin was 11 when he was first placed in juvenile justice in the mid-1990s. His mother was often in violent relationships, and most of her partners had perpetrated both physical and sexual abuse against him. To Fin, youth detention was his only means of escaping the abuse he was subjected to at home.

‘My mum and my stepdad, first of all they’d give me drugs when I was nine or something, so I started with amphetamines at a young age. I used to get abused and that at my home, all sorts of abuse. So I started doing crime and that so I could actually get away. And then I ended up going to [youth detention] and then I thought “Oh yeah this is better because I’m not getting abused” and that. So I started going back to juvies in and out.’

Although juvenile detention felt safer than his home environment, Fin was still subjected to physical violence and attempted suicide on numerous occasions ‘because I was scared of life and I didn’t want to live ‘cause of what was happening’.

At 13 Fin was moved to a different centre. He usually got along reasonably well with prison staff and one officer at this facility was particularly friendly.

‘I met this screw, this officer that worked there. His name was Simmo … He asked me if I wanted him to bring anything in. So I said “Yeah, can you bring me some cigarettes?” And then he’d start bringing cigarettes in, lighters, bringing some pot. And then he started saying “Oh you want some pornography?” So he’s bringing all this pornography and he kept doing that and he was writing these letters and putting them under my door, like saying he loved me.’

Simmo’s interest in Fin escalated to the point that he would regularly visit him in his cell, lie next to him, and fondle his genitals. Fin, who had deliberately committed crimes in order to escape this type of abuse, became even more suicidal.

‘I was a bit suicidal and that still. And I started getting worse y’know. ‘Cause I was just wondering, like I thought I could go to juvies to get away from it and then it started happening there.’

Eventually Fin disclosed the abuse to a counsellor. His cell was searched and Simmo’s letters were found. The matter was reported to the centre’s general manager and Simmo was dismissed. The general manager asked Fin if he would like to press charges but also added that Fin was eligible for early release, implying that pressing charges might be detrimental to this.

‘Because I was getting conditional release and that anyway … they were making out like they were giving me a release but they weren’t. I’m only young so that’s what I thought. And I said “Nah I don’t wanna press charges” and this and that. I just wanna get out, get away from it. I was mentally stuffed, you know.’

Now in his 30s, Fin has spent most of his life in and out of prison while also battling drug addiction. He also struggles with the ability to trust people or form close connections.

‘There’s not many people that I have the time of day for because I feel they’re always trying to get me or they only want to talk to me because they want something. I’m not gonna trust people because a lot of people just use you these days.’

While in jail Fin has commenced university studies and hopes to better himself so he can make his two daughters proud.

‘Obviously I’ve been in and out of jail and I haven’t been able to fix it … What’s happened to me has made me mentally and physically stuffed really. But I’m trying. I’ve got two daughters and that, so somewhere in my life I’ve gotten better.

‘I’m actually scared about getting out, I can’t explain.’

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