At the time of Huw’s birth in the late 1960s, his parents were grieving the recent death of one of their children. ‘I was born three months after he died’, Huw said. ‘I was born at a pretty bad time, you know.’ Huw described his parents’ relationship as violent, and himself as ‘a troubled child’.
‘I’m pretty sure I suffered from ADHD or ADD, one of the two. My mum told me she used to have to tie me into bed, ‘cause I was pretty all over the joint.’
At the age of 10 or 11, Huw was taken by his parents on what he thought was a trip to look at a new school. They drove to a Christian Brothers boys’ home in Melbourne where the family was greeted and taken into an office to meet the staff. Once inside, a woman distracted Huw and while she did so, Huw’s parents took off.
‘I had me back to me parents and they slipped out the door you know, and I turned around and me parents had gone. I started just screaming you know and started ripping the wallpaper off the wall.’
Huw tried to escape down a corridor but was caught around the throat by Brother Gibson who carried him back to the office and dropped him on the floor. ‘That was me being introduced to [the] boys’ home’, Huw said.
In the years he was in the home, Huw was sexually abused by Brother Gibson as well as by Brother Tobin.
‘I was in trouble a lot in the boys’ home, you know. Brother Gibson, twice I got six of the best on me hands, you know. Put me hands out and whack. Felt like me hands were broken, you know. After that I’d be crying and he’d come over and he’d start hugging you and put his hands down your pants and yeah, exposing his penis you know. And he undressed me.
Happened on a couple of occasions.’
Brother Tobin was one of the dormitory masters and on several occasions woke Huw in the middle of the night and told him to follow him. ‘He sat me on the bed, started to take me clothes off. I was naked and he took his robe off and I laid in bed and he laid beside me, and he used a lubricant.’
Huw was told that if he said anything to anyone about the rape he’d ‘never be going home’ to his parents. So he didn’t. He said there was no one to tell and even if there was, he doesn’t know if he would have spoken up.
‘If there was someone I could have talked to, it wouldn’t have happened as many times as it did … [but] I was 11 years old, 12 years old. You can’t, how do you sit there and tell someone that you had sexual intercourse with one of the Christian Brothers, you know what I mean? How do you do that, you know what I mean? Not just shame, it’s – I didn’t want anyone to know that I had sex with a male.’
After he left the boys’ home at 15 or 16, Huw got into trouble stealing cars and committing other crimes and was soon part of the juvenile justice system. As an adult he’d spent about 20 of his 48 years incarcerated. He spoke to the Commissioner from jail where he was being held on remand.
Huw described himself as having been ‘a drug addict’ most of his life, using marijuana, speed and ice. ‘I don’t touch heroin, I don’t drink alcohol.’
Forensic health services provided support for his anxiety and depression and he expected to do an anger management course while in jail, but he’d never had counselling related to the sexual abuse. He wasn’t sure that that it would help. ‘I’m 48 years old now, you know. I’ve destroyed me life. Not much to look forward to, you know.’
Huw had told his partner in about 2010 about the sexual abuse, ‘but not in detail’. He’d recently spoken with a lawyer about making a civil claim against the Christian Brothers and had given that person specific information about the Brothers’ abuse.
He’d also spoken to his mother. ‘She’s aware, I made her aware just recently that something happened in the boys’ homes that she put me in and she sort of feels like it’s her fault because she put me in there, and I’ve told her it’s not her fault and she wasn’t to know.’
‘She looks forward to my phone call every day and she wants to come and see me. She’s not sure how much longer she’s going to live. Her health’s deteriorating.’
He had hopes of catching up with his son one day. ‘I ring him. I’d love to see him. I was out of his life for six years. I want him to come and see me but he doesn’t want to see me in jail, which is understandable.’