Jeff Raymond's story

Home life for Jeff and his brother in the late 1950s was ‘horrendous. A lot of violence … and the one memory that still sticks in my head like a tattoo is … my mother was down on one knee, with her arms around my brother and myself, sobbing … while my father was destroying the kitchen’.

Jeff’s mother was ‘stressed and traumatised’ by the behaviour of her abusive husband, and took it out on the children. ‘She was very bitchy and nasty towards us.’ Jeff said that his father was a drunk and a womaniser, and his mother left when Jeff was about six.

Soon after, Jeff and his brother were sent to a children’s home run by the Anglican Church, in Sydney. ‘That was pretty horrific … We only got bathed once a week and the eldest boys got bathed first. By the time we got to our bath it was dirty and cold … We were fed stale cakes and lard, and dripping on stale bread.’

The children were also beaten regularly and verbally abused. ‘“You stupid little prick. You won’t amount to nothing”, and all this sort of stuff.’ Jeff did poorly at school because no one at the home supervised the children, so they never did any homework.

The boys went back home to live with their father. At the time ‘there was a scheme going from the state government I think it was, where they would contribute towards the wages of a carer, which was cheaper than putting children into institutional care’.

The first carer the boys had was nice, but didn’t stay long. Jeff thinks his father probably ‘put the hard word’ on her. The next carer, Sandra, ‘had a very inappropriate sexual relationship’ with their father. Sandra would walk around the house wearing only a suspender belt. ‘She would play with our penis and kiss our penis and did a lot of really inappropriate things.’

The next carer who looked after the boys was an older woman who was very kind. She suggested that Jeff’s father send the boys to a government-run children’s home, and this is where they spent the next couple of years, until Jeff was nine or 10.

Jeff told the Commissioner, ‘The female staff there were very cruel. [One of them] often belted me, slapped me, kicked me, [and] touched me inappropriately. There was other carers that were fairly brutal. I had my pants pulled down in front of all the children in the dining room and flogged’.

On one occasion Jeff was dragged downstairs by one of the carers. ‘I got a flogging by [the matron’s] husband. He was kicking and flogging me and I was crying and trying to get away from him with me pants down … Matron said, “Stop. Stop. You’ll kill him” and I remember looking at this nurse and she was just smiling at me.’

The children received ‘indiscriminate beltings in the dormitory’ and when they were bathed, ‘the women bathing us would stroke our skin and play with our penis and stroke us and “Oh, you’ve got soft skin”… “Oh. We going to take you fishing, are we? Here’s the little worm”’.

The boys once again returned to live with their father, but life at home did not improve. ‘We had no beds. We just slept on mattresses on the floor. We had no furniture. No TV.’ Their father was working, but he spent all his money on gambling and womanising.

Jeff told the Commissioner, ‘All I’ve ever wanted was to be loved and to love back. But how do you love? When you get told by your father, “Shut the fuck up or I’ll give you something to cry about”. Flogged and kicked and bashed and then, “Oh, you’ll never amount to anything”. It was very, very hard’.

The family moved to the inner city and although he had a job, Jeff started hanging out with a bad crowd and ‘got involved in marijuana, amphetamines, and stealing cars. A lot of petty crime. Street brawls. Wound up in jail, on remand … and something inside me said, “I don’t like this” and I left that crowd of people’.

Jeff found a long-term job, got married and had a child but because of his issues with drugs and alcohol and being verbally abusive, the marriage didn’t last. His second marriage also broke down the same reasons. Jeff also lost several jobs because of his temper.

In his late 30s, Jeff went to a Rugby Union match. ‘I don’t remember going there or leaving there … I came home. I abused [my stepdaughter]. I abused my ex-wife. I put on a giant show. It was just a giant psychosis after I’d been on amphetamines and tripping on LSD and drinking grog. I was right off my head …

‘I was charged with assault. A lot of shame on me. I just broke down and said, “I’ve had enough” and went to AA and I’ve been sober ever since.’

When Jeff met his friend Lionel, ‘a good Christian man’ who accompanied him to his session at the Royal Commission, ‘it was through [him] that I developed a faith in God and [began to] attend church’. Jeff believes that Lionel played a big role in saving him.

According to Jeff, the physical, emotional and sexual abuse that he experienced when he was a child have led to an ‘inability to be intimate in a healthy manner. To have normal relationships. Procrastination. Inability to concentrate and focus on one thing for too long. I really have problems with communication. Authoritarian figures …

‘I’ve got a good heart and I’m a generous person, but I have a lot of issues where I’m always in conflict with people because of my background issues. And sometimes … I go off the handle and I always regret it later on. I’m not physically violent, but I’m verbally violent.’

As well as Alcoholics Anonymous and some other groups, Jeff sees a counsellor regularly and finds her very helpful. ‘There’s nothing about my life that she doesn’t know.’

Jeff told the Commissioner, ‘[The abuse] had such a detrimental effect on my life that I … it’s not so much revenge. I don’t really want revenge, because I’m no angel. I can’t justify what happened to me through some of my behaviour. I just wanted it to be brought into the open, so that it might not happen again’.

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