‘I was an Aboriginal and they didn’t believe us in those days and they still don’t really want to believe us … there is just so much hate and pain … I’m surprised I didn’t turn out to be a serial killer but instead no … transgender prostitute and escort girl, that’s how I take my pain out.’
Krystle was born in a New South Wales country town in the late 1960s. As a toddler and raised as a boy, she was adopted into a white family. Her adopted parents’ marriage broke down and she was left in the care of her adopted father. His new partner became Krystle’s stepmother.
‘When she moved in … she said, “This is now my house not your house, so things are going to change,” and she kicked me in the gut … she brought floggings in the house that you wouldn’t give a normal kid.’
Krystle was brutally physically abused by this woman. Her adopted father didn’t protest the abuse and gradually supported Krystle’s stepmother in the punishments.
‘The abuse was too much. They’d throw me out of the house naked because I was knocking around with Aboriginal people, stripping me naked in the Aboriginal reserve and they’re making me walk home.’
Krystle began to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes and, despite the police talking to her parents and other people in town noticing her treatment, nothing was done to stop the physical abuse. Krystle’s behaviour became more anti-social and she began to commit crimes.
‘I started doing break and enters – I wanted to get caught.’
When she was 12 or 13 years old she was caught by police, charged and made a ward of the state. She asked the judge to send her to a boys’ home and not send her back to her stepmother. The judge didn’t listen to her and she was sent back into the care of her adopted father and stepmother. The physical abuse continued.
The judge also made the requirement that Krystle see a local psychologist.
‘The first day I went there … I didn’t like him. I could just sense it.’
Krystle was groomed by the psychologist. He gave her alcohol and drugs and soon began to sexually abuse her.
‘Unfortunately after he raped me … I kept going back and seeing him and [the] … abuse kept going on till [I was] about 18 years old.’
Krystle had felt, since she was five years old, that she was a girl and she confided this information to the psychologist.
‘Because I said that I wanted to be a girl, he said “Yeah, I can probably help you get onto female hormones and stuff”. So, being naive and not really seeing many people in my young childhood, I trusted him.’
The psychologist also organised other men to abuse Krystle, along with other children.
‘There was a lot of us kids … you see what they did is they called it their “menu”. Their menu consisted of what kids they wanted. They had teachers, coppers, judges, solicitors involved in what they do. They’d say “Oh, a ward of the state, oh yes what’s this kid like?” … they’d call up … and say, “Can we have them come and stay for a week or so with us?”
‘We could smoke because … we knew that they wouldn’t tell … And they’d give us grog … not knowing that they were grooming us … They said if we said anything we’d get into trouble.’
Krystle had little support in the town and found she was unable to remove herself from the relationship with the psychologist, especially as he was held in high regard by the authorities.
‘It was just getting a bit too much as I was growing up and … I didn’t know what was right or wrong.’
Her schooling was affected by her abuse. She changed schools from a boys’ school to a local state high school and had left her adopted home. She was living in a local refuge. One day Krystle’s abuser came to visit her at school. She felt very unsafe and anxious. She broke into the school at night and set it on fire ‘to try and stop the pain and the hurt which I was receiving’.
She was 15 years old when she was convicted of arson and ‘finally’ sent to a boys’ home. Even then, she maintained a relationship with the psychologist to access drugs. He continued to sexually abuse her.
Eventually Krystle moved to the city to escape the relationship. She worked as a sex worker and developed a drug habit. At 19 years of age she moved interstate but was convicted of a crime and given a long jail sentence.
Krystle has always been up front about her sexual abuse and reported it to many adults in authority.
‘I told my mum … and she wouldn’t even go back to the police and tell them … said they wouldn’t believe me … tried to tell … [child probation officer] but she didn’t believe me and smacked me with a ruler.’
When Krystle entered the adult correctional centre she reported her abuse to a range of staff. Still nothing was done.
Krystle’s abuser had moved interstate but continued abusing children. He was eventually convicted in 2013 of a great number of child sexual abuse charges, although Krystle’s abuse wasn’t included.
She is angry that not one person listened to her or took her seriously when she disclosed her abuse. She knows that if they had listened to her, her abuser might have been stopped before abusing so many other children. For instance, she reported her abuse to a correctional worker in 2003.
‘So that’s 2003 and I was still crying out for help and that wasn’t listened to … Could have stopped those … kids from being hit [abused] … that’s 10 [more] years he’s had a reign of terror. And I told that lady [correctional worker] to do something about it and nothing was ever done.’
When interstate police contacted her for a statement in relation to the psychologist, she was angry.
‘Why has it taken this long for you to do something when he raped and abused me … That’s why I’ve tattooed my body, because I suppose it’s like self-harm because it’s something to take the pain away … I said, “What do you want to talk to me now after I’ve done so much jail and [continually] asked for help?”’
As a transgender person in jail Krystle finds that she is a target.
‘I’ve been raped in jail. I’ve had my teeth knocked out … and the officers just wipe it under the carpet … It’s hard … when I was explaining to the officer I was forced to give a bloke a head job he … was laughing about it and this is in corrective services. I didn’t ask to be raped by these blokes … they were laughing and giggling and I said “Is it funny, is it?” … I have to put up with it every day.’
Krystle isn’t optimistic about her future. She has no support outside of jail and feels that her abuse and the institutional responses to her reporting of it have ‘destroyed her head’.
‘I’ve tried to forgive but I will never forget … Who do I trust? I’m very paranoid.’
Krystle is hoping to receive compensation from the government for their breach of duty of care of her and if she does she will donate the money to assist abused women and children.