‘My mum would break her heart, mate, if she heard this’, Marlin told the Commissioner when describing his abuse. ‘And my mum thinks these people tried to help me, mate. And they didn’t help me. As I’ve grown older they’ve made me worse, mate.’
Born in the 1970s, Marlin describes his childhood as a good one despite the death of a sibling when he was young. He started ‘getting into a little bit of trouble, just minor stuff’, wagging school and ‘doing a bit of graffiti’. His mother moved the family to Perth for a fresh start.
At some point after that Marlin was sent to a residential home for boys, which he believes his mother thought would help him. In fact, it was a cruel place to be. The boys were housed in small groups under the supervision of a group worker.
‘They [the group workers] didn’t give a shit, but.’ If there was a fight amongst the boys, the group worker would lock the door rather than sort it out. ‘Scream out for help but they wouldn’t come.’
Marlin was in and out of that institution about four times and lived with his family in between. A staff member threatened him that ‘I wouldn’t be going home, mate, unless I fuckin’ did some shit with him … At the time I didn’t … ask what was going on’.
He was sexually abused about three times by this staff member, whose name he doesn’t remember. ‘After this happened I went way off the rails.’
Marlin bashed another boy in the home, who had been laughing at him. He was taken to the police station but didn’t tell the police about the sexual abuse.
After that Marlin was taken to one institution after another. He describes one incident, when he was still a child, where a police officer put a gun to his head and told him he’d never see his family again. He made a complaint later, while in jail, but it didn’t go anywhere.
Marlin took drugs and committed numerous crimes, mostly theft-related. He has spent a total of about 12 years in prison. He didn’t get a proper education and, for many years, has been angry with government, which he describes as a ‘corruption machine’, and the police because of the abuse he suffered.
He attempted suicide a few times, the first when he was 16. Only a few friends knew about this first attempt and he didn’t get any professional help.
Marlin has been too embarrassed to talk about his childhood abuse with his family. His mother is very supportive but he has never told her about it. He attends drugs workshops in prison but hasn’t spoken about it there either.
Addressing the Royal Commission is the second time he has spoken up. The previous time was to someone who knew his family and who encouraged him to contact the Redress WA scheme. Marlin did this but it was too late, as by then the scheme had closed. He is interested in taking legal action in the future and receiving compensation.
Marlin told the Commissioner he wants his life back. ‘I’m sick of using drugs to cover up shit.’