Randolph Edgar's story

‘I got treated pretty badly. I used to be a runner, but only because I was searching for love and I didn’t get it. I saw the opposite of love, and that’s hurt and pain … whatever they wanted to dish out. I used to cop it, but I wouldn’t take it. I used to run off.’

Randolph’s father went to World War II and never came home, and he believes that his mother was sent to prison for neglecting her children. Randolph was six when he and his siblings were placed in care in Tasmania in the late 1940s.

Randolph experienced physical and emotional abuse during his time in children’s homes and foster care. He continually tried to run away and recalled one time when he and another boy escaped from a youth training centre. ‘There was a drainpipe. Just shot up there … and across the paddock pretty quick [and] went into [town], and were picked up.’

Randolph told the Commissioner, ‘I went to foster homes … I was just there for money, and they abused me and threw blocks of wood at me and I said, “Right, I’m taking off. I’m not hanging around …” So it was like that all the way through my life when I was growing up as a young kid because I was trying to reach out …

‘That’s why they called me a runner. But it wasn’t because I wanted to run, it was because it was survival and that’s the only way I knew how to escape.’ No one asked Randolph why he was running away. They ‘just brought you back there and punished you and shoved you into a bedroom somewhere and locked the door’.

When Randolph ran away from one foster home, his foster parents later locked him in a bedroom and took his clothes off him. ‘I still ran away with nothing on and I hid in the back of the car … I was walking up the street naked. The police came and drove me [back].’

Randolph told the Commissioner that ‘when you cop all this abuse, it made you bitter … So we did silly things … break and enter and silly things like that … We ran away once and stayed on an island and all we lived on was mussels and whatever we could [find], and we stayed there for about a month’.

When he was 16, Randolph was placed in a police lockup. He thought that one of the older inmates was going to help him write a letter, but instead the man sexually abused him. The same man abused him when they were in jail on remand.

Randolph recalled that he was locked up in the dungeon in the prison for 90 days for trying to escape, because he thought, ‘“I don’t like this place … I want to go home. I don’t like it here”. I went up to court. They didn’t know where else to put me … They shipped me to the mental institution … I was pretty wild at the time’.

At the mental health institution Randolph ‘never got one bit of treatment the whole time and I saw things that were … fellows that were really gone off air … They’d give you a needle … to quieten you down and put you to sleep … I don’t like needles …’

As a young man, Randolph was angry but ‘I had to move on. I didn’t want to hang onto it. I wanted to forget about it … I put it to the back of me head so that I wouldn’t think about it … It’d pop up every now and then’.

Randolph met his wife when he was a teenager and they have been together for over 50 years. It hasn’t been easy, because they have had significant problems with their children and grandchildren, but they support each other.

Randolph doesn’t like talking about the physical and sexual abuse he experienced when he was a child and he worries about people finding out about it. ‘It’s difficult to talk about … because it stirs it up. You try to put it away and bury it … It’s not an easy subject to get onto, but I figure if it’s going to help someone else, that’s fine.’

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