‘At first I didn’t think much of how we always had the door shut, and the other children were told not to enter. What started to annoy me was Lorraine sat so close to me. While we would work through my homework Lorraine would always touch me and tell me to look at her while she would talk to me …
‘Soon, after a week or so, things began to get worse. Remember one thing, before I discuss this next information – I hate every part of what happened and my life has been hell.
‘So, another session in my room I had noticed Lorraine rubbing between her legs. And the next thing I will never forget, as this was the start of my hell. She had told me that if I did not participate with this vulgar stuff I would never go back home, and no-one would ever believe me because I was a problem child.
‘I will say I started to take part with this horrible person. I can’t remember everything, but what is etched in my memory is all the touching of my genitals, her exposing her breasts, and more.’
Kelsey was sent to a Baptist youth shelter as a young teenager in Brisbane in the mid-1980s, staying there for approximately a year. ‘I know it was mainly my mum’s decision, I think I was quite a handful to my mum ... I’ve wanted to ask my mum for years [about why he went there], but I’ve caused my mum a lot of grief and I’ve treated her really, really bad.’
There were about six other kids in the shelter, and Kelsey didn’t like it there. After a few months one of the carers, Lorraine, began sexually abusing him. ‘Over the period of time I was at the house I was touched, exposed to nudity and ultimately sexually abused with intercourse and oral sex.’
Sometimes the door to his room would be left ajar, and Kelsey believes another worker, Tony, ‘must have been watching while this horrible mongrel was doing whatever she did to me.
‘I want the Commission to understand. I lost my virginity in the most horrible way ‘cause the place I was housed didn’t take care of me.’
Kelsey told the Commissioner that ‘I felt like I’m a weirdo, like it's dysfunctional but I’d rather be hurt the other way, by a man, because you know that way people don’t challenge you’.
His first disclosure was to a friend at the home who was around his age. After leaving the hostel he went to live with a relative, left school early, and worked various jobs. At this stage he felt very alone in the world, and very confused, but did not realise how much the abuse was impacting on him.
He started drinking and taking drugs and his life unravelled, but he did not talk about the abuse to anyone and so ‘the secrets created a darkness in me’.
The sexual abuse which Kelsey had erased from his mind for years still comes back into his memories. He has had counselling for his temper and to assist him with relationships, but not regarding the sexual abuse. ‘I’ve had depression, but you don’t call it depression, what you do is you just self-medicate and you just make people’s lives hell and make your own hell.’
As an adult Kelsey has spent time in prison, and he at least partially blames his experiences at the hostel for his involvement in violence and crime. While in custody one time he spoke with a counsellor ‘who believed in me ... She said I probably had post-traumatic stress disorder and I should seek medical, therapeutic and whatever to gain better understanding of my life and all its misfortunes’.
Although some therapists have thought medication may be useful in managing his mental health, Kelsey and his GP have come to the conclusion that his depression is better managed in other ways. This includes equine therapy, which he finds helps regulate his energy – ‘you’re not working on the horse, you’re working on yourself’. He enjoys spending time alone working and living in remote locations.
He has been out of jail for a couple of years now, and feels his life is going a bit better. He was disgusted to learn that the hostel was not one of the institutions covered by the Forde redress scheme, so he was ineligible for an ex-gratia payment.
‘Someone should be accountable for me being hurt ... I am sick of my life and how it turned out thanks to my abuse at that horrible house.’
Kelsey’s mum is now elderly and has been very ill, and he doesn’t want to broach the subject of his time at the shelter with her further. ‘I just want me and her to have a good friendship, a good mother and son relationship before she passes rather than worry about this stuff.’