Violence was part of Flynn’s life from an early age, when his mother was murdered in the 1960s. His memories of his childhood are fragmented, and he finds it hard to put them in order.
Flynn remembers being in a number of foster homes in South Australia, and some of the people he was placed with. He told the Commissioner that one couple he lived with were nice, and there was another couple he stayed with for four years. A different carer had problems with drugs and alcohol.
As a child and teenager, Flynn used to hang around the streets a lot. When he was eight years old he was sexually assaulted by a stranger in a public toilet. There was a second incident in a public toilet, this time in a park. A boy convinced him to pull his pants down, and to go into the toilet block. When he got inside he could see a number of men, and ran straight out. These people chased him, but he got away, and hid in a garden until they had gone.
Another time a man took him home, and gave him a room to sleep in. The man was naked when he came in to give Flynn a glass of water, and in the morning Flynn woke to find him masturbating in the room. He was sexually abused by other foster children too. He thinks these boys were in their late teens, and he was around 14 when this happened.
Flynn never told anyone about the abuse he experienced at the time, because he was depressed and did not feel there was anyone he could talk to.
At some stage Flynn was adopted by his uncle and aunt. His uncle was very violent, and caused him a significant injury.
Flynn also told the Commissioner about a church pastor who groomed him when he was a minor, being very nice to him and ‘always looking in between my legs, every time I was going for drives with him’. After Flynn turned 1,8 they had a sexual encounter. He believes that this pastor sexually abused a number of children.
Having to fend for himself a lot on the streets, Flynn has trained in boxing and martial arts for his own protection. ‘I’m very streetwise ... I had to learn all that stuff to look after myself, to keep myself safe.’ He worked various jobs for almost 20 years, but is now on a disability pension. At work people thought of him as ‘slow’, and he never progressed far.
Flynn went to the Mullighan Inquiry, and told them about his experiences, and received some counselling. Around five years ago, he reported the abuse to his local police station. They told him that they did not have enough information to pursue an investigation. Having been in trouble with police himself for much of his life, he hoped this would be a healing experience, but left very disappointed. ‘I feel the police think, “Oh well, you’ve been in trouble. Who gives two hoots about you?”.’
Although Flynn has spoken with lawyers about his legal options, he has not proceeded with a civil claim because he cannot afford costs. He now has details of a free legal advice service, who may be able to help him find other ways to move forward. When he accessed his welfare records through Freedom of Information, a great deal of the information had been redacted.
Flynn has issues with trust and loneliness. ‘I have church friends and all that kind of stuff, but at the end of the day you still go home.’ He lives alone, as ‘I can’t even have a decent relationship, because of all the abuse that’s happened to me’.
Flynn is estranged from his adult kids, who aren’t aware of his childhood experiences, and ‘just don’t realise all the crap I’ve gone through’. Although he now has access to regular counselling, this is not frequent enough to meet his needs. ‘People just don’t get deep enough into your issues to help you to get better.’