‘I got in this trouble that had me in a reformatory … I broke a bond for shop stealing, and by some boys dobbing me in, being with them while they did some housebreaks … I guess they’re not trivial matters, but you know, it certainly wasn’t great serious harm to anybody, or any aggression, or any great amount of things.’
Jacob was 13 when he was sentenced to three weeks in a remand centre in South Australia in the mid-1960s.
‘I was new … and I don’t know quite what I did in the line … It felt like, I’m the new boy, or not quite like the others, or felt a little picked on. So the head boy … walked down the line to me and bashed me in the shoulder a few times … the collar bone … I’m trying to duck the punches. He lands one in my stomach that doubles me up, and that’s the end of the assault pretty much.’
The boys were lined up outside the guards’ office before dinner, and even though Jacob was physically assaulted in full view of the guards, they did nothing.
‘That night, there was the sexual assault in the dormitory … So I’m sleeping, and there’s a blanket chucked over my head to waken me and there’s at least three [of them]. Two are holding me down by the shoulders … and one takes my bottom clothes off. Then, it’s hard to describe. I mean, it’s really horrible … [a] life-changing sort of thing. But the act was done.’
Jacob was raped by one of the older boys, while two others held him down. ‘The next morning I told the guards … One [of them] was a little rude or aggressive and told me to “Drop the gripe”, along those lines, and not pursue, not raise the [matter].’
That morning Jacob attended ‘a one-off visit by an educational worker … I’m pretty sure it was a sex education class, strangely … It wasn’t sex education on male force or anything like that … but after class I saw the [teacher] … and just said quickly … “I was molested last night, teach” … something like that. I had to be quick about it. He didn’t respond, but I was moved up to the other … section … and felt reasonably safe there’.
After Jacob was released from the remand centre, he went to live with his father.
‘I tried to forget it a great deal, but you know, it was often on my mind and it was hard to concentrate on schoolwork and matters, like, things that’d interest me … I’d fly off the handle a bit at times … for no reason.’
There have been times when Jacob has had trouble sleeping. ‘And it’s a horrible thing. Nothing worse really than bashing your head, “Go to sleep. Go to sleep” you know, lying there doing nothing, and I guess horrible thoughts come to your mind, and what do you do to end things … ‘cause it’s all too much.’
Jacob has thought of taking his own life, but he has a large number of children and grandchildren and believes that ‘it wouldn’t be a good example. I try to be sensible. I try to get along. You know, I’d rather an easier life than a difficult life. I’d like my children to have things not so difficult.’
Although Jacob has never had a problem with alcohol, ‘marijuana has been my vice I suppose … I spent a year in jail for a small amount of marijuana’.
Jacob told the Commissioner that he’s never spoken about his abuse. ‘It’s really a matter of trying to hide it from people and not wanting others to picture or colour me as somebody damaged or different from having that occurrence, you know … [but] I somehow need to get closure … and get on with life.’