‘I’ve been growing dope all my life, some people say to hide, to mask the sexual thing that happened to me. I don’t know, maybe it does.’
In his early 50s Kip grew too much cannabis and was arrested and charged. While he was serving a short sentence in jail he was moved around quite a lot. One day he was placed in a cell with a violent long term prisoner. Though the man seemed friendly enough, that night Kip awoke with a razor blade at his throat. He was sexually assaulted and then threatened with death if he spoke of it. Kip spent the rest of that sleepless night and the rest of his jail time in terror.
The event triggered memories of Kip’s sexual assault as a child. Kip was 12 when he and an older brother began attending a police boys’ club in Sydney’s south in the mid-1970s. One warm afternoon one of the PE instructors, a man in his 30s, offered to take some of the boys to the beach. Kip and his brother piled into the car, along with a couple of other kids.
‘Everyone got out and he said, “Ah, do you want to just wait here a minute, Kip?” … He started talking to me about physical fitness and that and saying how well defined my body was.
‘He sort of leant over and stated pulling my pants down. I said, “What are you doing?” and he said, “I just want to look at your muscles”.
‘But he kept going and he ended up doing oral sex on me. I was too scared to do anything.’
The abuse was cut short as Kip’s brother ran back from the beach calling for him. Kip escaped from the car.
The boys didn’t return to the police boys’ club after that, but Kip never revealed what had happened in the instructor’s car. ‘I told no one. It’s just a horrible little dirty thing you keep to yourself, you know?’
Kip and the Commissioner talked at length, trying to clarify the effects the abuse had on Kip’s later life. Kip agrees he became distrustful of adults after that, and believes his early interest in marijuana may have been a form of self-medication. But Kip’s family life was in turmoil at the time of the abuse and Kip believes many of his troubles may have stemmed from that trauma as well.
‘I wasn’t sodomised, I wasn’t raped, it wasn’t ongoing. It was just the once, but it … stayed with me all my life.'
‘It was a sexual experience that I didn’t need to go through at that age. If anything it probably taught me that down there was for playing as well as going to the toilet, at too young an age I think.
‘It opened a door that shouldn’t have been opened so early.’
Kip married in his 20s but the relationship did not last. He has nevertheless stayed on good terms with his ex-wife and daughter as she grew up. Kip has not remarried.
He kept the abuse a secret for 40 years. ‘It wasn’t on the list of the worst things in my life, I’ll be honest. It was horrible, and it scarred me, but after what happened to me in jail – that’s the worst thing.’
Seeing a psychologist after the assault in prison, Kip finally revealed the childhood abuse. The memories had come rushing back and since then he has tried to deal with them. Kip continues to see a counsellor and feels the support is helpful. He has also disclosed to his mother and brother and has their support as well.
Kip believes ‘times are changing’ and that children are better listened to and believed today. He hopes the Royal Commission will continue to change attitudes and also lead to prosecution of historical offenders.
‘There’s poor buggers that have had horrible things happen to them, and I feel so sorry for them because what happened to me wasn’t very violent, it wasn’t the worst of things to happen. But it happened and it shouldn’t of, and I imagine how many other people he’s done that to. And what he’s done to other kids.’