Kit grew up in a New South Wales regional town, the youngest in a large family. His father was an alcoholic and a violent man. He also sexually abused his children, including Kit. Kit remembers his mother rushing them into a back room and locking the door in an effort to protect them from their father when he got home from work. When one of Kit’s sisters became pregnant at 12, it was probably to their father, Kit said.
When Kit was about five his parents separated. It was the late 1970s. His mother had a job and couldn’t care for all the children. She voluntarily placed Kit and one of his brothers in a children’s home in Sydney, where they stayed for several months. When he was six or seven she sent him to the children’s home again, this time on his own, for a year. Kit found it hard to be separated from his mother, and he didn’t like the home. ‘I didn’t like it at all.’
One reason for that was the sexual abuse he experienced there. Kit can’t remember much about the perpetrator but thinks he may have been a janitor. The man would visit the dormitory at night.
‘[He] would come around, take me to a room, make me stroke his penis and put it in my mouth … then take me back to the room.’ Kit is not certain but believes this happened three or four times.
Kit didn’t report the abuse to anyone at the home. He didn’t tell his mother either, although she was so concerned about his behaviour when he returned to the family that she organised visits to a psychiatrist. He didn’t tell the psychiatrist. He didn’t tell anyone till many years later when as an inmate in the prison system he told his solicitor.
When Kit spoke to the Commissioner he was in jail for his third conviction on child sex abuse charges. He’d committed the first offence shortly after his mother died, in the early 1990s. Kit was in his early 20s then. He was bisexual, and not comfortable with it. He didn’t have girlfriends. He’d had trouble at school. He’d left in Year 10 and begun drinking and smoking dope. ‘That’s what other kids were doing … It’s the way I could cope with life.’
Kit was given 200 hours of community service for that first offence. Afterwards he moved to another town and got work - ‘kind of got myself back together’. He went to rehab. He began a relationship with a woman. But after some time it ended badly, and things unravelled. Kit ended up living on the streets. He was drinking again. He sexually assaulted a boy. In the early 2000s he was convicted and jailed for six months.
This time as part of the release from jail program he received counselling from a psychologist. ‘He said a lot to me about just ways of – don’t be around children. So I did that. I kept absence from children from 2002 to what happened this time. I kept away from kids, it was my best way to do it.’
Alcohol was involved again in the offence for which Kit is currently in jail. At the time the matter came to court he finally disclosed his own abuse, to his solicitor, who organised a psychiatric report. As part of his sentence he was required to participate in a custody-based intensive treatment (CUBIT) program for sex offenders. His solicitor wasn’t encouraging about the value of the program.
‘[S]he said look, she’d heard about this program, it’s a lot of rubbish. She said you’re going to get back out and it’s going to be the same thing for you; you’re not going to get any help – she was kind of negative to it’, Kit said.
‘But I wanted to do the program. I needed to get something out of it that would help me. Because I don’t want to offend again. I don’t want to put a child in that situation.’
In fact Kit has found CUBIT very helpful. He just wishes he’d had access to something similar the first time he was arrested for a child sex offence. ‘My word … I should have been given some help. Like why are you doing this? Let’s get some things in place so you can not offend again.’
It hasn’t been easy, especially the group therapy aspect of it. ‘When you first get there, you’re in with a group of 10 blokes, you don’t know what they’ve done, and you’ve gotta say, [to help with] understanding, you’ve got to tell what you’ve done. That was the hardest part … And you hear other people’s stories, you hear what’s happened to them, you think Jeez, you know …’
The program lasts for about nine to 12 months. When Kit leaves jail he’ll continue to receive support, seeing a psychologist regularly and attending AA. He has new insights and strategies now that he thinks will help him.
‘Looking at myself and what my life’s been like and why I’ve committed these offences, how I’ve felt about sexuality, how I’ve coped through my life. Lot of stuff like where I’ve come from, my family – how I’m going to manage my thoughts now and how I‘m going to cope … I’ve got a lot of good goals ahead of me, I’ve got a good job, and a place to live, so …’
He’s more confident than ever before that when he leaves jail this time he’ll be able to stay out. ‘My word. If I don’t drink. I’ve got a big problem with drink. I got my dad’s wild streak in me … [but] I haven’t had a drink for nearly two years so I’m pretty well ahead with that. The truth is if I didn’t drink I wouldn’t get in jail.’
Kit hasn’t reported his father or the janitor who assaulted him to police. He thinks that’s partly to do with shame. ‘I kind of buried it. I didn’t want to think about it.’ He still doesn’t want to talk to them. But he was glad to speak to the Royal Commission. He hadn’t planned to, but a fellow inmate urged him on. ‘[That’s] what actually got me to do this … He said “I want you to go over there and do it, you know, tell your story”. So I thought yeah. All right.’