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Jimmie's story

Jimmie was born in Sydney in the late 1970s. His parents divorced when he was two and his father remarried. He was very good at sports and competed at a high level.

His first experience of sexual abuse was when he was about 12. His stepmother’s father came to stay with the family and sexually abused him over a period of two months. He told a cousin, who told his mum.

‘I remember the next morning there was this big drama. Everyone yelled at me. My stepmum’s dad, he yelled at me and had a go at me. I took off and I didn’t come back for a few days. And no one was looking for me.’

Jimmie said he felt nobody had believed him, and it was only accepted when he came back to the home and his step-grandfather apologised in front of his stepmum.

‘I remember feeling that it wasn’t because people believed me, it was because he had admitted to it that it was understood.’

When Jimmie’s dad and stepmother split up, his dad blamed him, and for a long time, Jimmie thought everything was his fault. He started acting up and, in his first year of high school, he got suspended. His father beat him severely, the police were called and Jimmie had to go to hospital.

He did some time in care and then went back home again, but things became worse with his father and he ended up in a care home in Sydney at about age 13 or 14.

‘After that, that’s when my life changed and went sort of in the opposite direction.’

One of the male workers there took Jimmie to a concert and he’s not sure if he was drugged, but he fell asleep and when he woke up he didn’t remember where he was. His head was in the worker’s lap and the worker’s pants were open.

The same worker then went on to abuse Jimmie a number of times on trips to the mall and picnics, where he would engage him in oral sex.

‘It was like a favour because he’d let me pick certain stuff … You don’t sort of understand that. And because it had happened at a young age at my house … I didn’t worry too much that these things were happening to me, it was more that it was my dad that had put me in this place.’

Jimmie spent another period of time at home but by the time he was about 14 he was living on the streets of Sydney. He was picked up by the police and put into a hostel, where he was abused by two staff members.

‘I remember the first night I was taken there and I woke up in the morning and I just remember being interfered with, no one else was in the room and I was like “What is this bloke?” sort of thing.’

He got in contact with his mother and went to stay with her in Western Australia.

‘I really tried to just be normal. I never had counselling, I never had nothing, so obviously it was just too hard.’

Although he enjoyed being with his mum and stepfather, they didn’t have much money so he felt guilty and left their house. He ended up on the streets again, got in trouble with police, and was sent to a hostel run by the Uniting Church.

Jimmie told the Commissioner, ‘that’s when it turned. That’s when it got bad’.

He was raped by a care worker there on more than one occasion, and he also saw other children being taken from their bunks during the night. Jimmie said that worker ended up going to jail for sex offences.

After he got out of there, he had very few options left.

‘I had nowhere to stay so I ended up doing bad crimes to end up in jail for long periods of time.’

He now has a long criminal history and has spent a lot of time in jail. He is due for release soon and really doesn’t want to go back inside. Talking to the Royal Commission was the first time Jimmie had told anyone about the abuse. He reckons 60 per cent of the people who are in jail are there because of abuse that happened to them as a child.

‘I want to be able to tell people that I’m responsible for my own actions. I’m here because of the choices I made, but if I was a kid and none of this had ever happened I probably would have ended up playing for Australia in rugby. I had so much going as a kid and then all this … if I was to be honest it ruined my life. It made me become the person that I hated for so many years, it made me become who I am.’

Like many survivors who have experience of the criminal justice system, Jimmie feels that the sentencing laws are too lenient for child sex offences.

‘These people ruin people’s lives … They say you “Oh you only did this for six months”. Only? Take one day. One day is more than it should ever be.’

Jimmie is on medication for depression and also for pain management, following a serious accident. He hasn’t had any counselling for his past trauma, but has set up some treatment for when he is released and he is determined to follow through.

He has maintained a strong relationship with his mother and other family members and is looking forward to spending time with them when gets out.

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