Jerry first met Barry Adams when he was eight years old. It was the early 1980s, and his mother had taken him to a specialised clinic for behavioural issues.
Adams was the nurse at the Sydney centre, and took Jerry into a room by himself to conduct some tests. While Jerry was connected to a machine, Adams touched him inappropriately. A month later, at a follow-up appointment, Adams ‘had his way’ with Jerry while his mother was in the waiting room.
This wasn’t the first time Jerry had been sexually abused. Only a couple of years before, his older sister had molested him (and he knows she was sexually abused by their father before this).
When Jerry was around 12 years old Adams contacted the family again, checking in on his wellbeing. When his mother said Jerry had stopped his medication, Adams offered to take Jerry away on holidays. It was to be a month-long trip, all expenses paid.
Jerry was too scared to tell his parents what Adams had done to him previously. He was also excited about the prospect of going away, and the surfing, zoo trips, and other treats Adams promised.
‘So I agreed ... And that was the beginning of sort of a torture trip.’ Jerry soon became terrified of Adams. They moved around quickly, and Jerry often didn’t even know what town they were in.
‘He was enticing me to have alcohol, and also to smoke some hashish. So I was doing that, and a lot of nights there I was passing out, and he was having his way with me, doing all sorts of things.’
One night, Adams pulled the car over at the side of the road. He said, ‘I could bump you off, and no-one would know you were here ... Don’t ever think about saying these things to anybody, because no-one’s going to believe you ... You’re just a little shit’.
The trip ended up lasting seven weeks. Towards the end, Adams gave him gifts and amounts of ‘hush money’ too. He told Jerry that he didn’t have to live with his parents and could move in with him. He promised they could eat out every night, take drugs – whatever Jerry wanted.
After he had been home for a short while, Jerry ‘derailed again’, and Adams was suddenly back in his life. Jerry thinks his mother would tell Adams when he was acting out, and ‘was someone to listen to my mother, to use as a sounding board ... But it was all just for his set-up’.
Jerry did stay with Adams for a few months. The abuse continued, but Jerry felt he had more control now. ‘It wasn’t nice, but it was okay, and it wasn’t happening as many times ... If I said I didn’t want to do it, nothing would take place.’
This cycle continued until Jerry was around 16, ‘then I started physically abusing him’. Jerry would bash Adams, smash up his car, and steal money and property.
Jerry still finds it hard to trust others, particularly romantic partners. ‘When I get that close to them, and then I want to shut off, I don’t want to feel the love that they have to give to me. I don’t feel that I’m worthy of it or something. It’s a shit feeling.’
He sometimes had flashbacks to the abuse when being intimate with his fiancee, and feels guilty that this impacted upon their relationship. He has told her about his experiences, and she is very supportive.
Jerry still feels a strong sense of shame and guilt about the abuse. ‘I hate myself for not being somebody who could stop this shit from happening to myself.’
He lives with concerns, too, about becoming a sexual offender towards his own kids, and he attributes this to his background. ‘I’ve never once thought of harming them in any way whatsoever to do with that, it scares me that I could have it in me to do that sort of thing. Because I’ve heard it’s hereditary ... I thought, my father did it to my sister, and my sister did it to me, am I going to do it to somebody?’
Jerry struggled with drug and alcohol misuse for many years, using it as a way to block out bad memories. When he finally told a psychologist at a drug treatment facility about the sexual abuse, he felt ‘like a weight was lifted off me. The more I share of the story, the more it is lifted off me’. Sometimes when he has told friends, they have disclosed their own histories of abuse, and he has been able to help them get support too.
When he tried to tell his mother about what Adams had done, she said it did not happen. Jerry tries to empathise with her. ‘The way she’d be feeling now, that she took me there to get better ... She was just as big a target as I was’.
His mother denies the abuse perpetrated by his sister and father too. His speaking about it created significant conflict, and he is still estranged from some family members.
Jerry reported the abuse to police and discovered that Adams had been charged but not convicted of similar offences previously. He is currently trying to complete his police statement, despite it causing him a lot of anxiety. Knowing that Adams works in paediatrics, he hopes that by reporting he can prevent him abusing more kids.
He spoke with the Royal Commission about his life so that others might learn from his experiences. It also helps him to keep talking. ‘If I don’t ever get it out, I’m going to be a miserable old man. And I don’t want to be that person. I want to see a bit of rainbow at the end.’