Hayden James's story

‘I feel embarrassed about it because it’s like I’m putting my family in a bad light. In a way I don’t choose to do that.’

Hayden was one of the youngest in a big family based in Sydney’s west. As a small child in the 1960s Hayden had enjoyed his years with the scouts. At 17, when he had moved out of the family home to be close to work, Hayden decided to try to reconnect with the scout movement.

He visited a scout shop to ask about joining the senior scouts. There he met the leader of a troop based not far from where he was living. This scoutmaster, who was about Hayden’s father’s age, encouraged him to sign up for his troop.

A short while after Hayden joined, the scouts embarked on a camping weekend to the south of the state, about an eight hour drive from Sydney. The scoutmaster was supervising. ‘For some reason I’m in the car with him’, Hayden told the Commissioner, ‘and he says we’ll stop here and go to sleep …

‘I just went to sleep in the back and I woke up and he was trying to arouse me.’

Hayden put a stop to the abuse. He recalls the rest of the drive south was made in near silence. Hayden avoided the scoutmaster for the entire weekend and found a lift back to Sydney with somebody else.

‘I just kept away and then when I got home I never had anything to do with scouts since.’

Hayden told his family what had happened, but cannot remember their reaction. No action was taken, however, and the abuse went unreported. ‘I’m surprised they didn’t do more.’

‘You’ve got to think of the times too, the way they dealt with stuff in those times. It’s a different era.’

Hayden got on with his life, choosing not to think about the abuse. He feels he lost confidence because of it, and became distrustful of other people. He managed to avoid turning to alcohol and drugs, but admits to using other crutches. ‘I was lost in pornography for about nine years. I feel embarrassed about that. Maybe that was my way of dealing with stuff.’

Hayden began reading the Bible and also developed an interest in Buddhism. In recent years he has worked with people in and from developing countries. He compares himself with those people, which helps him keep his problems in perspective.

‘I’ve learnt to deal with it. Maybe the Christianity and the Buddhism combined got me connected and … the Lord’s lining me up in the right direction.’

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