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Marc Adam's story

Marc’s parent’s split up when he was six and then shared custody of him. During his primary school years he went to about eight schools in three states.

By his early teens Marc had begun getting into trouble.

‘Just being a little shit. Just being a kid. Being a little creep. I guess everything, like stealing cars and that type of thing. Then I got juvie for the first time.’

Marc was sent to a very tough, brutal juvenile detention centre in New South Wales in the late 1980s. He ‘met an older lady there and ended up sleeping with her and lived with her when I got out. I was only 14 … She was 40, so I guess if you look at it that way, that’s abuse’.

After leaving the woman’s home Marc moved to Queensland, where he continued to get into trouble. He spent time in two more juvenile detention centres and was sexually abused at both of them.

At the first one, ‘there used to be like a worker there … he used to take me down to the laundry … and he used to force me to do things. I used to slash up so I’d end up in the safe cells so I wouldn’t see him’.

Marc described the second detention centre as the worst of all. ‘As soon as you got there you got strip searched and then you got walked across the yard … straight over to the shower … no privacy.’

There were no toilets in the dormitories, so the boys had to call out for a worker if they needed to use the toilet during the night. During these trips the officers sexually abused Marc. ‘No doors on the toilet … you’re a little kid being stood over by a grown man.’

If he resisted, the officers would beat him up. He began avoiding going to the toilet at night, and would sometimes urinate in his bed.

Marc witnessed the sexual abuse of younger boys by older inmates at the centre. ‘You’d walk in the dorm, or by the pool and you’d have older kids forcing younger kids to commit oral acts on them and just … shit. You don’t understand where that type of behaviour comes from at that age.’

He found that ‘the only way you could really be safe was by mucking up’, because then you would be closely watched.

Marc wonders how someone ‘decided juvie could be the best place for and then that type of stuff happens … The times when you should be learning how to get a job and how to save money and how to do that type of shit, you’re either … in a dorm with 60 boys … getting picked on by older kids and preyed on by fucking youth workers that are just sadistic … At that age, you don’t know how to cope.’

Marc turned to drugs as a coping mechanism and this has led to a lifetime spent in and out of jail. He has never been violent.

‘I think turning it in on myself when I was younger, that might have taken up all the anger that I would have done later. Even in jail … I didn’t run around … being tough and beating up younger people … I get to look after the young people.’

After the abuse he experienced, and a lifetime in detention, Marc does not like crowds.

‘I don’t like people. I sort of don’t know how to fit into a conversation. I don’t know what to say … Since 14, in and out of jail, in and out of detention centres … It’s hard to relate to people. It’s hard to have a relationship … I’ve never even told anyone really what happened.’

‘You get ashamed of it and then you think, it takes a long time to think, “It wasn’t my fault” and it makes it hard to deal with, and something that you try to put behind you, but you can’t because it’s always there … It’s spoilt my ability to be a proper dad to my kids … I don’t know how to have that joy of being a father and being happy and normal … It’s ruined my whole life.’

Marc has never had a job, ‘never owned nothing … I’ve wasted from the age of 14 till now … me whole life. If what happened to me when I was a kid didn’t happen I might have gone different. I might have only got in trouble, been naughty till I was 18 …

‘At that age, you’ve been bad, but you’re not bad, you know what I mean? You haven’t been given a chance … At that age, you’re fully selfish. “Me, me, me, me, me”. It takes a bit to shock you at that age. You’ve gotta get shocked at that age, but the right way.’

Marc told the Commissioner, ‘Out of 20 people I can remember from juvie, at least 15 of them would have been abused … that’s making sure they [spend] the rest of their lives in and out of jail … And most of the people I remember from juvie have all become drug addicts’.

‘I’m only in jail because I use drugs and that’s been my coping mechanism for what’s happened to me. I still haven’t dealt with it or sorted myself out properly. I don’t know how to start. This is pretty much a starting point for me.’

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