Meryn's story

As a young boy, Meryn was sent by his mother to a Sydney psychiatric hospital that also functioned as a children’s home. After 18 months, Meryn was moved – this time by his father – to a boys’ home run by the De La Salle Brothers.

Sexual abuse in this home ‘was rampant’, Meryn said, and violence a day-to-day part of life. On his first night Meryn was strapped for talking. He couldn’t recall all the names of the people who sexually abused boys but said one of the priests, Father Clem Hudson, ‘stands right out’.

‘They were really standover-ish sort of people, like, and because you didn’t know what to do, you do as you’re told so there was a few times – only a few times, not on a regular basis but a few times where there was sexual abuse.’

Meryn learnt to fight in the boys’ home and he carried violence into future years. He was 14 in the early 1980s when he was sent to a juvenile detention facility after absconding. In the facility he was sexually abused by a staff member who’d make Meryn strip while he masturbated, then force him to perform oral sex.

At 17, Meryn was sent to Long Bay Jail where he was raped by one of the inmates who also made him perform oral sex on others.

The sexual abuse had ‘consumed’ him, Meryn said. ‘There’s so much I could talk about to the Commission, like, it just never ended.’

Meryn never reported the abuse and has tried to forget about it.

‘It affects you over the time and it also it gives you other identities and all sorts of other things you know, that seem to come to the surface a fair bit. Like, I still don’t know sometimes whether I’m Arthur or Martha because of the amount of incarceration I have done and the beatings I took in the boys’ home and that, and just the whole attitude …

‘And just things like that add up over the years and then with the abuse and that, the sexual abuse, you spent the next half of your life becoming an adult trying to get away from it, or turned a blind eye in your own head, but unfortunately you can’t do that sometimes and that would lead to streaks of and patches of violence and other things you know, like armed robberies and rebelling against everyone. At the drop of a hat an outburst, you’d just go through people like it wasn’t funny.’

Meryn calculated that he’d spent 600 months of his life incarcerated. He spoke to the Commissioner from jail.

‘You adopt all these different personalities and you learn how to play the game so to speak and you play the game and all of a sudden it’s just part of your life, and it’s now and then things go that way again … and all of a sudden you’re back in trouble again. And it’s never ended. Like I never had counselling, I never had psychologists, I never I had nothing, it was just abuse after abuse after abuse. It’s just, it’s horrific.’

Meryn was looking forward to getting out of jail and ‘trying to get away from it all’.

‘I’m a bit crook at the moment, but I know that I’m better than that, but I need to deal with things, I guess. And they say you’re a mere product of the system but some of the people along the way … they ruined my life.’

He thinks the police have ‘this outward look’ on him, and although he’s been trying hard to stay out of trouble, ‘they just sort of, like, get me’.

‘I’m not that person. I’m trying you know, but with a bit of support it would help.’

Meryn believes young people in juvenile justice should be able to ‘express themselves a bit more’, and ‘shown pathways and roads’ that he wasn’t.

‘I was never shown anything so if they’ve got someone there who’s really pushing, you know, for roads to open up for them and journeys and all that, I mean they’ll feel so much better in themselves and it’ll be a lot better, I reckon.’

Speaking with the Royal Commission was the first time Meryn has disclosed the abuse.

‘Anyone that can share their past, well, whatever happens, maybe let’s hope that it’s fixed up for the next lot of young people and hopefully no one would go back through the system. They’re going to, but they might be able to have a bit more clearer way - or not what we went through.’

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