Henrik's story

Henrik was born in Brisbane in the mid-1950s. He described his family as drunken, violent and abusive. His father beat his mother and the children repeatedly.

In the late 60s, Henrik was made a ward of the state after his father reported that he was uncontrollable. He was placed in a youth detention centre, something he likened to being ‘locked in a cell’.

From time to time, the woman in charge of the detention centre, Sister Jones, would organise boys for ‘special treatment’ by the male staff. The boys were required to masturbate or perform oral sex on members of staff in return for lollies and ice-cream.

After six months at the centre, Henrik was sent to a Catholic institution, run by the De La Salle Brothers, even though he was not a Catholic.

Henrik told the Commissioner that, ‘Brother Ivan started to befriend you … but everything’s got a price and he raped me … probably every couple of weeks’. Other boys were also being raped by Brother Ivan.

Even though he wasn’t a Catholic, Henrik went to confession, believing that what you told in the confessional was confidential.

After Henrik told of the abuse in confession ‘I was dragged out of my room and I was flogged senseless with a horse whip’.

When he told his father about the abuse, his father beat him and returned him to Brother Ivan. However, this time Henrik was ready with a knife. He put the knife to Brother Ivan’s throat and said, ‘If you come here again I’ll cut your effing throat’.

After about six months, Henrik was sent back to the detention centre. After absconding several times he was then sent to a Salvation Army institution where boys were trained in farm work. He was 13 years old. There, Major Frank subjected the boys to daily abuse, making them masturbate him at the dairy where the boys were working.

Henrik remembers hearing boys running from the dairy screaming. He also remembers a boy falling off the back of a truck in suspicious circumstances. He believes that other Salvation Army officers knew what was going on but didn’t want to do anything about it. He left when he turned 16.

Henrik reported that he’d been addicted to drugs as an adult and has been to prison. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia while in prison in the mid-1970s. He stated that he has tried to commit suicide around 23 times.

He couldn’t disclose what happened to him to his loved ones until recent years. He told the Commissioner, ‘I wouldn’t change my daughters, I wouldn’t bath them, and I couldn’t tell my wife why, I just couldn’t tell my wife why, I just couldn’t, you know, and that was one of the reasons the marriage broke up’.

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