‘I don’t think I knew, you know what I mean? I was just a dumb kid, I don’t think I knew what happened … I didn’t know, and I didn’t think about anything until later on, and then you didn’t want to think about anything, and then you just didn’t think about anything. Until it all catches up with you.’
In the early 1990s, when Myles was around 11, he went on a camp organised by his Perth state primary school. One night he was summoned into the tent of a teacher called Mr Bunbury. Some other students were already there.
His memories of the sexual abuse that happened next are fractured. ‘I think at some stage he either had hold of my ear or my head ... I think my teeth got in the way or something ... I think I fought back, I don’t know. I think I did ... Someone was crying ... I can remember having a really sore throat ...
‘He would have been laying on top of me at one point, 'cause I can remember being out of breath and I had his sweat on me ... I know he was doing it to other people as well, in that tent.’
The next day one of the ground’s caretakers approached another teacher, saying that he knew what had happened with the kids in the tent and offering assistance. The teacher would not listen. Bunbury remained at the school after these incidents.
Later Myles told a different teacher about the abuse. ‘I can just remember sitting there and talking to him about it ... No one’s ever come and knocked on my door ... Nothing happened.’
Myles didn’t attend school much after that camp (‘figuring out why later on’). Instead he would hang out at the shops, ‘literally hiding in the clothes racks and stuff’ if he saw anyone he knew.
His mother enrolled him in a different school, hoping this might help, but this did not work out. Although trying hard to forget what had happened, he just couldn’t. ‘I didn’t have a normal childhood, and I didn’t have normal teenage years.’
Finally Myles left school and home in his mid-teens and survived on the streets. ‘It kills you ... I think I went through a lot of my teenage years and a lot of my early 20s masking everything, and drinking and smoking dope, a lot of conflict.’ His mother had a drinking problem too. Police would pick him up and take him back home but he would leave straight away. ‘I just had no one.’
As a young adult Myles resumed his education, then began working. Housesitting provided stable accommodation at last. It was difficult to maintain employment as he finds many situations and people trigger bad memories and intense reactions. ‘That’s a big word, triggers. There’s a lot of triggers that I have, that I don’t even know until they’re in front of me, and then I’m setting off and my head’s going.’
He experiences insomnia, nightmares, and other sleep disturbances, and still sleeps with a light on. ‘You never get used to it, but you know what it is. Even though your dreams might not have anything to do with what’s happened, you know it’s the same thing.’
Substance misuse is also an ongoing issue – ‘It’s like self-medicating. I’ve just been doing that all my life I suppose’. He is not in a relationship, but enjoys the contact he has with his young daughter.
Myles can’t think of any form of justice that would resolve the harm done to him. He feels that an apology from the education department would be pointless, and has mixed feelings about financial compensation. ‘It bewilders me, it’s like a prostitute getting paid late with interest, and an apology on the end of it ... It makes you feel used.’
Around five years ago Myles was engaged with an employment agency. A worker there ‘pretty much took it upon herself to sit down and say, “What’s wrong, what’s going on?” ... and she said, “No, you really need help”.’ She referred him to a psychologist, Mary.
At first he resisted therapy, but eventually he realised that he needed to talk with someone. ‘It got to the point where I literally started walking around and looking up and thinking, "I wonder if I jumped off that one, I wonder if that would do it?"
'And I knew I was going to knock myself off ... I had to get rid of my fishing knife, I had a hunting knife, I had to get rid of stuff like that ... There was a point for a while there where, and it sounds funny, I’d fight anyone to get them to hurt me or something. I pushed a guy once to get him to shoot me.’
Myles finally went to see Mary, who continues to be a great support, but initially could not discuss the sexual abuse. ‘That took a long time ... For me to establish a relationship ... I wouldn’t be anywhere but in the grave if I hadn’t met Mary.’
Although feeling it is important to share his experiences with the Royal Commission, he became extremely anxious before meeting with the Commissioner – finding it impossible to keep food down and drinking excessively.
Some days he still feels suicidal. ‘It’s like a weight, and it just consumes you and pulls you down. And you can’t do anything, you just want to get rid of that feeling. You can’t feel any worse ... It’s a drain when you want to confront your problems and you want to deal with your problems, but dealing with them it’s like being cut with a scalpel ... It is opening old wounds, well, it’s not even – nothing’s healed.’
He wishes he had found someone like Mary earlier on his life. ‘Then I wouldn’t be in this position now, I’d have a lot more tools to deal with things. But now ... It's a crippling thing, when you can’t stop your mind from going there. And you’ve literally got to knock yourself out.’