Mal Vincent's story

Mal’s parents lived a fairly nomadic life, as fruit pickers, until they divorced when he was seven. For a while Mal spent time with both parents, but when his mother married her second husband, Mal was sent to live with his father. ‘He was, I suppose a, you could call it, brutal man’, who was violent towards both Mal and his mother.

Mal told the Commissioner that he was seen as a difficult child. ‘I thought I was normal’, just getting into ‘normal boy stuff’ but when he was 11 or 12 he was made a ward of the state, and sent to children’s homes in South Australia and Queensland. He also spent time in foster care.

Mr Dawson, who ran the boys’ home in South Australia, introduced Mal to a friend of his, and sent him to stay at this man’s home on weekends. The man began to groom Mal before sexually abusing him.

‘It started off he used to buy me things. Make me feel good … And then …. I started sleeping in his bed … He put a sort of soft porn movie on … he started masturbating me and I didn’t know what to do … He didn’t seem to want me to do it to him or anything … I was just freaked out.’

This abuse happened three or four times.

Mal told the Commissioner, ‘I should never have been sent out on me own to a single man for a start’. He believes that Mr Dawson may have been working with his abuser, because although he didn’t sexually abuse Mal or talk to him about sexual matters, ‘he used to come in and give me massages every now and again’.

Mal didn’t report the abuse to Mr Dawson. ‘I didn’t know how to. It wasn’t the first time it happened to me. So … [my] uncle … I was about five. My parents used to leave me at my grandmother’s and my uncle used to …’ Mal’s uncle was 15 when he abused Mal.

After several foster placements, Mal began getting into trouble and was sent to a number of juvenile detention centres, where he was subjected to a great deal of physical abuse. He ran away, and after spending some time in the bush working with cattle, Mal ‘got meself in trouble and ended up in [another detention centre] for three months’.

While he was there, ‘an older bloke, used to bring me out for a smoke … took a liking to me … and then one night he come into me cell and thrown me back up against the wall … he kept on touching me and that and … come back another night … same sort of thing … masturbating me’. When the worker took Mal out of the detention centre for a daytrip, ‘the first chance I got, I took off’.

Mal has used drugs and alcohol as a ‘way out’ and has spent time in jail for break and enters, assault, and drugs. He has tried to stay out of jail, but ‘I just … wander … I can’t find my place’. He has trouble forming relationships and ‘can’t befriend anybody. I feel wrong … I don’t really have any trust. I’ve got a lot of trust issues’. Mal has been diagnosed with depression and he told the Commissioner that he doesn’t believe that he has ever really dealt with his abuse.

‘I don’t know if it’s a trigger or … but I always known, you know, if … my daughter’s very affectionate … and having her sit on my lap it was … when she’d move around, I didn’t feel right … I felt dirty, you know what I mean?’ Mal told the Commissioner that if he is changing a nappy, ‘I [feel] dirty sometimes … I don’t know whether somebody would look at me and see something that wasn’t. Just all these things’. While he knows these thoughts aren’t rational, he still has them.

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