Myles Mitchell's story

Myles has a love/hate relationship with his mother. He blames her for the fact that he was sent to a children’s home, the place where he was abused, but he also admits he was the ‘child from hell’ when he returned. One thing he has not been able to do so far, is tell her the possible reason why he became that child from hell.

Myles grew up in Victoria in the 1960s and 1970s. He doesn’t know why but he was made a ward of the state shortly before he turned three years of age. He was sent to a government-run reception centre for children. There, he was abused by a male perpetrator, whose name he can’t remember. In fact, he blocked the abuse out altogether until memories came back to him when he was around eight to 10 years old.

‘I remember, when I was in [the children’s home], I remember everything. I remember everything that happened but I’ve not come here to discuss that.’ Instead, Myles told the Commissioner about the impacts the abuse has had on his life.

When he was almost five, Myles went back to his mother. However, he didn’t feel safe with her. ‘I probably didn’t want to be there. I wanted to be somewhere safer … My mum’s a nice person … [but] Mum was the one that put me there … She couldn’t look after us for whatever reasons. I got assaulted in there. “You did this to me.” No she didn’t but, “You did this to me”. And I would love my mum and I would hate my mum, love my mum, hate my mum, even today.’

When he was being abused as an infant, Myles used to wet his bed to ‘try to get out of this thing’. Bed wetting became an ongoing problem for years. Even before Myles remembered the abuse, he was breaking the law, ‘stealing ... into shops … sexual acts, lots of sexual acts … a bit weird for a Grade 1 kid to probably do that.’

When he was in primary school he attempted suicide by jumping off a roof. He split his head open and sustained a brain injury. He received psychiatric help but didn’t disclose the abuse, even though at times he wanted to. ‘Do you? No. Do you? No. It’s like a fight within yourself. You want to do it but, no, if you do it … You can’t trust anyone. You feel if you tell somebody something, it’s going to be held against you.’

Myles experiences profound feelings of detachment and has done so all his life. He feels somehow ‘different’.

‘I was an outcast. I still feel that today.’

He became addicted to gambling, alcohol and narcotics, for which he received counselling. ‘What’s wrong with me? And suddenly you would do something and then … you would say: why did I do that? Why did I do that? … What took over my mind? It’s like I was a secret person … It’s like I took that path in life.’

By the time he was in his late 30s Myles had had enough. He thought he would die if he kept doing what he was doing. That was when he met his partner, with whom he had children. That’s changed him. He has responsibilities. Now in his late 40s, he feels his earlier life has put him back financially.

When the Royal Commission started, Myles disclosed the abuse to his partner. ‘She was understanding, didn’t look at me any different. It went well.’ He obtained his file from the Department of Human Services. He was hoping the abuse would be mentioned and somehow some missing pieces in the puzzle of his early life would be explained but no: ‘It didn’t give me those answers that I wanted’.

He frequently remembers the abuse and his abuser. In fact, it keeps ‘slapping him in the head’ like a ‘slingshot’.

In recent years Myles reported the abuse to the police but was told the matter couldn’t be pursued because he doesn’t know the name of his perpetrator. Myles also acknowledges that, even if his perpetrator were imprisoned, it wouldn’t not change anything for him. It wouldn’t fix anything.

Apart from his relationship and the children, Myles says age itself, has helped him get through.

‘I’m so glad for my kids that they just, they don’t struggle at school … and they’re just having fun … and nothing’s happened to them and they’re just – they’re just able to live.’

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