‘Everything’s just pretty much scars now.’
The sexual abuse began when Hume was four or five years old. In the late 1980s, after he and his siblings were taken from their mother in Perth and placed in respite care, Hume was forced to perform sex acts by the man who was supposed to be looking after him.
‘He did tell me not to tell anybody. And if I did, I’ll be seeing him every weekend and he’ll hurt me every chance he could.’
Around the same time, Hume was also abused at home by a friend of his mother who was babysitting. And again the man threatened the frightened young boy into keeping quiet.
Shortly after this Hume and his brother went into fulltime foster care, but the nightmare continued. Hume was sexually abused and raped by his foster father, a man he described as ‘very sadistic’.
There was physical abuse, too, from his foster mother. ‘His wife, or his partner, knew what was going on and then she would take her frustrations out on me.
‘That went on for a while.’
Hume remembered case workers visiting the home, but they never saw anything wrong. ‘They would inform the people, the carers, when they were coming out, so they made everything look happy and all that. And the bruises on me they blamed my brother for.’
Hume said he even tried to report the abuse to the case workers, but all it did was make his foster father more cruel. ‘They confronted the carers and obviously they would deny it. And then I learnt the hard way it was best to keep my mouth shut.
‘I was terrified … because I knew what he was capable of.’
When Hume was about seven, he and his brother were living in a new foster home during the week and an Aboriginal group home on weekends, because ‘the department said that we needed to learn more about our culture’.
At the group home Hume was again sexually, and brutally, abused by a carer. ‘I tried to fight back but obviously it was a bit … one-sided.
‘He pretty much said that I could say whatever I want but nobody’s going to believe me because I’m a liar and he has a good reputation.’
Hume didn’t tell his foster parents about the abuse but tried to make it clear that he didn’t want to go back to the home. But nothing changed.
After that Hume said he just ‘shut down’, keeping to himself and not talking.
A few years later Hume and his brother were sharing a room in another group home. One night, Hume recalled being dragged out of bed by a carer who was drunk or on drugs. The man bashed the other boy, ‘pretty much knocked my brother out’, then sexually abused and raped Hume.
‘After he finished he started hitting me around and saying that it was my fault that it happened.’ Hume said that this was the first of more than a dozen times he was abused in the home.
Hume also spoke of severe physical abuse from the staff, ‘using me as an ashtray, things like that’.
Again Hume tried to report what was going on, and again he was the only one punished. He ran away from the home but said his pleas not to be taken back always ‘fell on deaf ears’.
When the two brothers finally got out of the group home they went to live with a new foster mother. Hume described her as an ‘emotional blackmailer’, but said there was no sexual or physical abuse. ‘Compared to the houses we’d been in, it felt like … heaven.’
But years of abuse had taken their toll. ‘By that stage I was pretty much numb,’ he said.
When Hume lost his brother in an accident he left the foster home and was taken in and cared for by a friend’s father. ‘He’s there for me to this day.’
In the years since Hume has had to use all his strength to deal with the impact of the abuse on his mental health.
‘My kids and being there for them are the reason I haven’t lost it or freaked out yet because … they need me and I’m not any good if I’m laying in bed or in a hospital because I can’t look after them.’
He’s never had counselling or made a report to the police. Hume did receive some compensation from the Western Australian Government, but only for the physical abuse.
‘I really didn’t disclose much because even to this day I’m still ashamed of what happened.’
Contacting the Royal Commission was the first time he’d been able to talk about even a part of the sexual abuse he suffered. ‘There are other things that happened to me but I’ll … keep that to myself.
‘My partner told me to talk about it but I honestly don’t feel like I can.’
Reading and writing have always been difficult for Hume and he believes, if anyone had cared about him, he would’ve been diagnosed with dyslexia as a boy. Despite this, when he spoke to the Commissioner, Hume was studying to get a degree so he can help children and young people.
He wants to see a system where all carers want to help, not just use children as a way of getting money. Hume also believes that kids in care should always have access to someone they can talk to, someone they know.
‘They need to be able to trust their case officers and not just be a number.’
Hume’s mental health is still fragile, but his partner and their children make him stronger every day.
‘I just give them what I should have got. Love and support.’