Harold's story

Harold was born into a large family and when he was a toddler in the late 1950s he and his brothers were taken from their family and sent to an Aboriginal mission in Western Australia.

They were told that they ‘were going for a holiday and would be coming home sometime soon’.

At the mission, Harold was repeatedly sexually abused by Superintendent Joseph. The abuse occurred over a period of about five years until Harold was in his early teens.

It started after Harold was summoned by Joseph into his office. The superintendent grabbed Harold, took down his pants and told him to ‘make a stiffy’.

Years later, in his 50s, Harold telephoned Joseph, who told him that the abuse ‘was part of what we had to do at the mission to check the children’s private areas’.

The abuse continued to affect Harold’s sense of himself.

‘I don’t touch myself personally. That’s part of my suffering, that long- term damage has affected me …’

Harold knows others who were abused because some of the boys at the mission disclosed it to each other.

Harold said that, ‘in open discussion I already knew that … Joseph had sexual – stuff – abuse with the other guys. That come out. We’d laugh about it and say, “He got you and you”... but it was still shameful, guys still hid it’.

Harold recounted that he’d been in trouble with the law and had had counselling for mental health issues. He said that, ‘no amount of money, whatever it is, is going to rectify the pain and the suffering. I’ve had to have a lot of counselling, which is, you know – it’s eased the pain, but it will never make the pain go away, but it’s given me a level of insight into the past, and that’s made me aware that I’m not just doing it for myself here, I have to do this for all these guys that are out there’.

Harold has told his children about the sexual abuse.

‘Yeah they know my stories. I’ve kept them in contact with what I’m doing. They know about the sexual abuse, they know this is going on. I’ve never sheltered anything from the children, and I say to the children, “Always stay strong and believe in what you can”.’

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