Gerry grew up in Western Australia in the 1970s. At the age of five his mother placed him in out-of-home care because he was ‘too much trouble’. The only childhood memory of his father was being bashed by him one time.
Gerry was a ward of the state until he was 19. During this time he was placed in 48 different hostels and institutions. He experienced great cruelty as a child. Beatings were common. On one occasion, he was stabbed in the hand by a carer for crossing his knife and fork during mealtime. He was also bullied in his early years because he wore callipers on his legs.
At the age of 10, when Gerry was living in a Methodist children’s home, he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by two old men, Uncle Ray and Uncle Bobby. These men would lock Gerry alone in his room. They would then place rubber bands on his testicles, play with his penis, rape him and at times insert a vacuum cleaner hose into his anus. ‘Many times I woke up with them in my bed and their filthy paws on me.’
After being moved to a different section of the home for older boys, the sexual abuse continued. Other ‘uncles’ regularly fondled Gerry. He was beaten less because he would ‘back chat them and was a bit bigger’.
Gerry tried to tell staff about the abuse but ‘they would just roll their eyes and say “That doesn’t happen here”’.
The next place where Gerry remembers being abused was at a government-run home. He was fondled when changing after the showers. If he ‘showed emotion’ he was belted. Again, he would wake up with a carer fondling him, with his hand over Gerry’s mouth.
When Gerry was 13 years old, he was sent to a youth hostel run by the Salvation Army. While there he would sometimes wake up with someone in his bed, fondling him. It would happen less, however, as Gerry would yell and tell them to ‘fuck off’.
Throughout his time living in various homes, Gerry would often run away but was either caught and brought back or had to return because he was hungry. He left school after Year 10 but has rarely worked because of his emotional and mental health problems.
Gerry says that the sexual abuse ‘impacted hugely’ on his life. His education was greatly affected. He has obsessive compulsive disorder which makes it difficult to be alone in a room – or be touched by – a man. He sees men as ‘dirty’ and can’t even sit next to one on the train. He has suffered nightmares, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, homelessness and social isolation. He has a ‘short fuse’ and is sometimes prone to violence. Gerry has served a prison sentence for sexual assault.
Gerry had a son of his own who died in an accident. Because he was never able to show emotion, he finds it hard to process his grief. He also blames himself for the accident as his son was in care at the time. Gerry attempted suicide because of this.
Gerry never sought redress for the crimes against him. He sees that process as a ‘cover up’ and ‘dirty money’. He has also never sought counselling. ‘I didn’t feel like I should burden anyone with what had happened and I didn’t want anyone to pity me. This is especially true because to this day I still blame myself for what happened and for the death of my son.’ However, having spoken to the Commissioner, he is interested in the services that the Royal Commission offers.
Currently, Gerry is on the dole. He has recently taken up model making, a childhood hobby, as it takes his mind off bad memories. He’s also in a new relationship and his partner is supportive.