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Reynold John's story

In the home Reynold was born into, violence was commonplace. His mother was regularly beaten by her partner who also physically and sexually abused Reynold and his brothers.

In the mid-1960s, after their mother was admitted to a mental health facility, Reynold and his siblings were made wards of the Western Australia state. He thought ‘maybe I was part of’ the Stolen Generations and this was the cause of his mother believing ‘you weren’t allowed to do anything’ about children being taken away.

Reynold and his siblings were sent to a Presbyterian home and over the following years Reynold returned periodically to spend weekends with his mother. On these occasions the physical and sexual abuse by his stepfather continued, but no one at the children’s home investigated the marks on his body when he returned.

‘In my mind you can’t go back to an institution when you’ve got bruises all over you, stuff like that, back and forth to an institution’, Reynold said. ‘No one cared. I used to get the same there anyway, so.’

At about the age of 10, Reynold was transferred to a reformatory. He doesn’t know why he was sent there, but recalled being strapped often for ‘no point or reason’.

‘I used to see them all getting smacked and that was the place where I was raped up there.

I was cleaning the toilet and I don’t know, in a chapel, and I just remembered that’s all, that someone grabbed me by the neck, throwing me into the toilet bowl and yeah, molest me …

I just sat down crying.’

Reynold didn’t tell anyone about the assault. ‘I couldn’t report it because I didn’t know who it was. That’s basically all. All’s I had in the back of my mind was like, you know, could it get any worse than this? And it did, ‘cause I had to go home.’

In his early teens Reynold left the children’s home and returned to his mother. His stepfather had left and his mother was with a new partner who was physically violent. Reynold put up with this because he wanted to be part of the family and didn’t want to have to leave.

In coping he ‘blanked a lot of it out’ and in his young adult years worked hard in various hospitality and other jobs. For two decades he wanted to ‘prove to people’ that he could achieve something. He bought a house, married and had children, and made a conscious decision not to ‘hit the drugs and stuff’ that he saw others, including his siblings, doing.

In the mid-2000s, Reynold’s brother rang and said he was taking their stepfather to court for sexually abusing him. At this point memories ‘all came flashing back’ to Reynold.

Reynold also made a statement to police but the matter took several years to be investigated and several more to go to court.

In the meantime, Reynold participated in the WA Redress scheme. He filled in an application form but made no mention of the sexual abuse, and after a process in which he didn’t speak to anyone, received $13,000.

The case against his stepfather eventually came before the court. Reynold believed the jury was ‘worn down’ by the judge and an initial decision of guilty on several counts of ‘indecent dealings with a child under 14’ became an acquittal.

Seeing his stepfather smile as he walked away reminded Reynold of the look on his face as he would sexually assault him.

‘I actually thought he was going to be found guilty … It would have helped me a lot just to say, “Well that smirk, you can have that smirk now and take it to jail with you”, you know. But it didn’t happen. He got to go home to his wife. She knew what he’d done … At least he’s locked up for the day anyway.’

Reynold felt that now that he was ‘getting older’ he was affected more by memories and experiences of his childhood.

‘Because I was at a younger stage and I was working and I wanted to try and do something with my life, I don’t think you’re too interested in those sort of years, because you’re young, you know what I mean? And all of a sudden when you get to a certain age, I think something just clicks, which it did and you know, you just lose all that energy. You do. And you lose all that fight.

‘And when I was working a lot, especially in the hospitality sector, I actually went through a lot of discrimination too. That wasn’t helpful a lot of times … They all build up to a certain point where sometimes I just haven’t wanted to get out of bed there … It’s just living day by day now.’

Over the years he’d seen different psychiatrists but felt most of them were there to ‘give you the medication and you’re a number’. One day he’d been the 15th patient the psychiatrist had seen that day. ‘Give you a prescription, see you in a month’s time.’

Reynold described himself as ‘very resilient’.

‘I have to be, my children need me.’

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