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Lindsey Patrick's story

Lindsey was made a ward of the state in Victoria when he was a baby, and spent time in a number of children’s homes and group homes run by the Sisters of Mercy. He doesn’t believe that any of the cottage parents at the group homes were screened or adequately trained.

In the early 1970s, when he was about seven or eight, Lindsay was sent to live in his first group home. The cottage parents were very physically and emotionally abusive, and he recalled an occasion when the cottage father threw him across the room.

The first cottage parents left and were replaced by a new couple who Lindsey initially thought were nice. ‘They were, to start with. But I think it tells on 'em after a while. They don’t know what they’re in for because they don’t know how to deal with kids that have been damaged, and then it tells on 'em when they start taking it out on the kids … Because usually … most of them start off being good’.

The second cottage father ‘was all right at the start’, but he started to sexually abuse Lindsay when he was about 15, and then ‘everything just went to shit’.

One night, when the cottage mother was away, the cottage father came into his bedroom and sexually abused him. This confused Lindsey because, after he’d been bashed so much throughout his life, he felt that what had happened was sort of like love, and that someone had taken an interest in him.

Later, when his cottage parents were away, Lindsay tried to go into the bedroom of a relative who was staying with them. He said that he had gotten the idea from what the cottage father had previously done to him, but that ‘I done nothing because I felt horrible doing it from the start’.

‘I ran away … by the time they’d gotten back. But in the records [he] said he was going … [to] kill me, but I’d gone by that stage. I didn’t say anything about what he’d done to me, and next minute, I done something and he was going to … kill me. I hadn’t really done anything. I’d just gone into this girl’s room and didn’t do anything.’

After this incident, when Lindsey was brought back to the group home, they treated him ‘like crap’, so he ran away again. This time he told a friend’s mother about the abuse, and she phoned the nuns who picked up Lindsey and took him to another home. Lindsey believes that his first group home was shut down soon afterwards.

A few years ago, when Lindsey told a friend about the physical and emotional abuse he experienced at this first group home, they asked, ‘How would you cope with that mentally?’ He told them that he just took his mind elsewhere ‘because it just went on for [so long] sometimes. You’d just have to sort of take your mind [elsewhere]’.

Even though the cottage parents in his second group home were all right, Lindsay said that ‘probably the damage had been done. And that’s when I started getting a bit out of control … mixing with the wrong people, getting into crime and stuff like that’.

During a stay in a juvenile detention centre, one of the officers talked to him and pointed out that his next step would be jail. Fortunately, by this time, Lindsey had been spending holiday periods with foster parents who treated him like a son. ‘That’s when I changed my life around … with the support of my foster parents.’ He still refers to them as Mum and Dad.

When Lindsay heard about the Catholic Church’s Towards Healing process, he approached a solicitor. However, after learning that some survivors received very small payments, he is not sure whether he wants to proceed with a claim for compensation. ‘I don’t know if it’ll be worth it.’

Talking about the physical and sexual abuse he experienced as a child has helped Lindsay, who feels that gets easier each time. ‘My [foster] parents have said, “If you’ve got all this shit in your head, [if] you can get it out a little bit, it just makes it easier for you not to carry it around.

‘My biggest reason for [coming to the Royal Commission] is to stop the future abuse of kids … There are still a lot of damaged kids out there … I know how hard it was for me … If it’d help people not go through that again … that’s the main goal.’

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