‘Even still now, every now and then it just comes into my mind what happened, just like that – so fresh. It’s been like that all my life.’
Mason’s parents separated when he was nine years old and he divided his time between his mother and father. He began to go off the rails when he was 10 years old. By age 13 he had started using drugs – the age he first went into Queensland juvenile detention in the 1980s.
The centre was rough and very violent with bashings and physical abuse daily occurrences. Mason came to the attention of the centre’s Catholic chaplain who, due of his position, was allowed to have one-on-one sessions with the boys.
Not realising he was being groomed with gifts of cigarettes, Mason began to attend these sessions with the chaplain.
‘He would take me on personal one-on-ones and make me do things to him, saying if I said anything to anyone it would come back on my family … I felt threatened by it.’
At 13 Mason didn’t understand much about sex or sexuality and felt that the chaplain’s threats were real. He was scared of the chaplain, felt that he was to blame and was embarrassed and ashamed to speak about the abuse.
It occurred each time Mason was back in juvenile detention and only stopped when he was released. He now believes other boys were also abused by this man.
‘I look back at it now and I know that they [other boys] knew what was going on [even though no one spoke of it].’
As an adult, he believes that the abuse is related to his years of criminal offending, as well as his anger and anxiety.
‘It’s still in the back of my mind. When I feel down that’s what’s in the back of my head … Always drowned it out with drugs.’
Mason hasn’t had much life outside of jail and while he has undertaken drug counselling programs inside jail he has never disclosed his childhood sexual abuse. He still finds it difficult to talk about and has never reported it to the police or sought compensation. Now that he is older he wants to pursue all of these avenues to help him feel more in control of his life.
Mason came to the Commission to contribute his story.
‘Just trying to get through what I’ve been through and help for the future of other kids. Doing something positive.’