Kev used to take the bus to naval cadets every week as a kid. It was a long way but he didn’t mind. ‘I felt quite proud in my uniform.’
But on a couple of occasions, some men he didn’t know got on and bashed him. ‘The next thing, Carl Stewart is offering to give me a lift.’ Kev wonders if that was all a set-up for Stewart to gain more access to him.
Kev had been abandoned as a baby and taken to a South Australian children’s home in the 1960s. His records show that he was extremely ill at the time. Kev stayed in a number of homes and has barely any memory of his early life.
When he was 11, Kev was fostered by some ‘nice people’, who encouraged him to join the cadets. Chief Petty Officer Carl Stewart made himself known to Kev’s foster parents. They never really liked Stewart but allowed Kev to go away on weekends with him and sleep over at his house. It was on these occasions that the sexual abuse occurred.
Stewart would ply Kev with alcohol. Sometimes Kev would wake up naked, not knowing what had happened. He complained to Stewart that he had a sore bottom and Stewart explained that away, saying Kev fell while he was drunk.
Other abuse included ‘touching’ and ‘masturbating’. Stewart would threaten Kev to make him stay silent.
‘He told me if I told anyone, that he’d say that I instigated it and that I was gay – and that he would kill me.’
Kev never reported the abuse. However, when Kev’s foster parents expressed reservations about Stewart, Kev took this as his opportunity to get out.
When Kev was 13, he met his natural mother, whom he had believed was dead. On his first visit she gave him marijuana. Two years later he went to live with her and her family. It was an extremely violent household in which Kev’s stepfather tried to kill him numerous times. Kev also witnessed him attacking his mother.
At 15 he went to a children’s home run by the Salvation Army. There he was sexually abused by older boys.
Kev has lived with trauma all his life. He has been suicidal and gone through periods when he cried every night. He spent many years in jail for crimes he committed to support his drug and alcohol habit. He and his wife both have mental health issues and live on the disability pension.
In the past six months Kev started talking about his childhood abuse for the first time because he heard about the Commission. He has now made a statement to police and is waiting to hear back.
He has also seen two lawyers about a compensation claim, but neither has taken his case. Kev is considering his legal options.
‘I do feel entitled to compensation, but that’s not the reason I’m doing this. I want to open a foundation so kids who don’t get believed will get believed. So they’ve got somewhere to go.’