Jamie Laurence's story

When Jamie was young, his parents separated. Things were going well until his mother married a man who was violent towards Jamie and his younger sister. Jamie described himself as a ‘skinny kid’, the smallest in his class, and he’d often get picked on. One of the older boys at school used to follow him home and try to touch him sexually. When Jamie told his mother and stepfather about this, they didn’t believe him.

Jamie started avoiding school and in the early 1980s when he was 11 years old he was taken to court for truancy. Sent to a boys’ residential training school for six months, he was sexually abused by older boys during the time he was there. The abuse occurred at night in the shower blocks and dormitories.

Jamie told staff about the abuse but they weren’t interested. ‘One of the staff said I’d be transferred to somewhere much rougher if I didn’t like it there and I better keep my mouth shut. And I ended up running away from there at one stage and went back after a few days – I was hungry and that, didn’t really have anywhere to go, and I got a lot of trouble from staff for that, and one of the staff, a male, asked me if I’d learned to keep my mouth shut after that, and then he started exposing himself, wanting me to touch that, suck that.’

Jamie said he ‘was pretty terrified’ the whole time he was in the training school. After his release he stayed with his mother and stepfather but ended up ‘moving to Queensland to get away from everything that had happened’.

Between the ages of 14 and 17, he lived with his grandparents, a period of life in which he felt settled. But then his mother and stepfather came to live in the area.

‘They wanted me to go back and live with them and my grandparents said I should. I didn’t really want to. I probably shouldn’t of. And then I started smoking marijuana too with them.’

Jamie described having ‘a lot of anger issues’ from this time onwards and he didn’t ‘like people to get close’ to him.

‘There’s a lot more emotional damage than physical damage that’s happened to me’, Jamie said.

He started committing violent crimes and was imprisoned several times. He spoke to the Commissioner from jail. ‘It’s taken me being locked up now to have time to think about things and realise what a mess I’ve made of my whole situation from my childhood.’

While serving his current jail term, Jamie had had two visitors in two years, but felt ‘safer than I ever did as a child’. He’d done some courses and was working each day. ‘I do my own thing and stay out of all the dramas …

‘I want to get out of here and change my life and not be that way, but I need to do it properly or it’ll never really go away. So I think talking to counsellors would be good, and talking to you … Now that I’ve told someone, hopefully I can change things in the future for people too. It’s a pity it has to get to this point for other people to realise. I feel good talking to you and that … now that this has finally happened and it’s not taboo and pushed aside, and youse are good people and can do something about it.’

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