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Jeffrey Christopher's story

‘I just feel ashamed. Ashamed that that happened to me. Because I’ve sat there, I’ve watched a lot of different documentaries on it all, on things like that ... They reckon once you become a victim so many times, you portray that as an okay thing to do later in life or whatever. I honestly, I could never wish, I would never ever wish that on any kid. The things I witnessed, and the things that happened to me.’

Jeffrey first spoke to the Commissioner about being sexually abused by Mr Greene, a high school teacher in the far north Queensland town Jeffrey lived in during the 1990s. Greene acted as football coach to the local kids.

One day after training ‘I’ve gone to get changed. He’s followed me into the toilets, and come in and he’s done what he’s done, grabbed me in certain places and that, and smiled at me ... He said no-one’s going to believe me’.

Jeffrey thought Greene was probably right. ‘I was only a small kid, I was a stuff-up as it was anyway’, and so it seemed unlikely anyone would take his word if he disclosed. Still, the 10-year-old wasn’t going to let Greene get away with it entirely.

‘He’d walked out, he’d walked away from the toilets, out towards the football oval of the school. I got dressed, ‘cause I was upset about it all. I didn’t care, I walked out behind him, a couple of minutes behind him. I’ve run up to him, I’ve yelled his name. As he’s turned around, I’ve king hit him.’

Greene reported Jeffrey to police for hitting him. They spoke to witnesses, who had only seen what Jeffrey had done to Greene, but not the sexual assault against him.

Jeffrey wasn’t able to tell his side of the story, but doesn’t think it would have made much difference. ‘The type of kid I was proclaimed as, in this small country Queensland town – I was the devil’s child.’ He was charged and received a caution. Greene did not try to molest him again.

This wasn’t the first time Jeffrey had been sexually abused. A couple of years earlier he was in care when ‘one of the foster fathers – I can’t remember exactly which foster father – was sneaking into me room and that of a night, pinning me down, face-first into the pillow, and doing things to a kid that should not be done to a kid’.

In his teens, Jeffrey went to visit his sister in her foster care placement. While he was there a couple of boys came to the house, held a knife to his throat, and proceeded to rape her in front of him. They threatened that if she struggled or screamed they would hurt him.

Jeffrey started drinking alcohol and using drugs (initially supplied by other foster kids) when he was 10, and by 13 had become a ‘full-blown junkie’. ‘It made me feel better about who I was ... It turned my reality just into a normal nightmare. The drugs got rid of the pain, the hatred and all that for me.’

He was in and out of juvenile detention, and progressed to adult prisons. Since the early 2000s, he has spent less than two years out of jail. ‘The easiest way of putting it, it’s destroyed my life. I have a very hard time of bonding with a lot of people ... I have trouble around people, being around people.’

Sometimes he’s had to share the prison’s protection wing with paedophiles and other sexual offenders. ‘Every day I’ve got to look at them, knowing what they’ve done to some poor kid or a number of kids, or what they’ve done to some poor woman.’

He told the Commissioner he’d like to see people who sexually abuse children ‘shot on sight’, or at least to receive jail terms which adequately reflect the severity of their crimes against children.

Jeffrey has never had any counselling in regards to the abuse, and doesn’t know whether it would benefit him. ‘I’m not too sure, because I don’t know how I’d go ... Because the way I look at it, with me mentally, the damage is done.’

He first disclosed the sexual abuse around five years ago, to a mate inside when they were drinking ‘jail brew’. ‘I told him a few bits and pieces ... With him, and a couple of other fellas I’ve told since then, it’s been alright.’

Although Jeffrey has never considered reporting his abusers to police, he heard from some friends that Greene had been charged for crimes against another kid. He says ‘karma’ got his foster-father, who he believes is deceased.

Jeffrey is close to his relatives, who visit him in prison. He tells his nieces and nephews that they can always speak to Uncle, even with things they can’t tell their mums and dads.

When he is next released he’d like to help children who have been sexually abused, or who are living on the streets, so they don’t suffer like he has. ‘With what’s happened to me, I’ve got a life sentence ... Twenty-something years on, I still wake up in the night having the nightmares about it.’

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