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Roger William's story

Roger can’t remember much of his childhood, but the parts he does recall from living with his family are filled with violence. ‘I was very scared as a child, all I can remember is being scared all the time.’

When Roger was seven years old he and one of his brothers were sexually abused when out running an errand. ‘We were taken by some guy. We were walking, had to go get some bread for our mother. And he come and he was a friend of me mother’s ... He put us in the car and he wanted me to do things to him but I wouldn’t, so he hit me and told me get into the back seat. Then made my brother get into the front seat and do things to him.’

His mother was physically abusive, and would regularly ‘flog us with a jug cord’. He started getting into trouble, and by the age of 10 he and a few of his brothers were living in a Methodist boys’ home just outside of Brisbane.

Within the first month or so at the home Roger was raped by Pete, the young adult son of the manager. ‘It was very painful. I jumped up and run down to the toilet ... And then he come down and asked me if I was okay, alright.’ Roger thinks Pete might have stopped living at the home not long after this incident.

Roger was also sexually abused by Mr Adams, a man in his late 20s, who ‘looked after the boys’ and also ‘did the scouts and everything there for the home’. This abuse took place in the scout hall or Adams’s bedroom for a period of two years, ending when Roger was in his early teens. He doesn’t think his brothers knew about the abuse, and ‘I never told anyone’.

As a result Roger experienced sleeping difficulties. ‘At night when you’re trying to get to sleep and you’re just cursing yourself because of what happened, and things like that.’ He also began wetting the bed, continuing to do so into early adulthood, though at the time he didn’t realise this was a response to the trauma.

Another impact was confusion about his gender and sexuality – ‘till I was 20 I didn’t know if I was a girl, I thought I was a girl. Like everyone wanted to do something with me’.

The way he understood relationships was also affected. ‘I think it confuses you with love as well. You don’t know if you’re in love ... You lose your love for people.’

He lost connection to his church community and religion, too. ‘I used to love the Church and stuff like that, but then after that ... I didn’t like it at all. And then also I have no religion now. But now I sometimes look back on it and I think of the days I was in the choir and stuff like that, it was good.’

Roger married in his 20s and had children. His wife had also been sexually abused as a child, and he thinks their common experiences brought them together. ‘So I think both of us were just holding on to someone that, even though we had nothing in common, we’re just still trying to hold on to someone that liked us.’

Memories of the abuse continued to haunt him ‘every time you had free time, you were just sitting around by yourself’. Despite family members who drank heavily he never turned to alcohol to cope, although ‘I wish I would have drunk – it would have made it a lot easier’.

At one time he was taking antidepressants. ‘But then I stopped it. Because I thought, now if I want to kill myself, I don’t want to be umming and ahhing about it. I want to just go and do it.’ He feels he’d like to speak with a counsellor now, as he has ‘a few things I’d like to ask, and find out’.

Around 10 years ago Roger applied to the state redress scheme, and received the minimum payment as he didn’t tell them about abuse. ‘I was wondering why me brother got more money, so I don’t know if he had been touched as well [and disclosed this].’

Roger also reported the matter to the Church. ‘The people in there were saying, like they’re not responsible, or they’re not taking responsibility for what happened ... You don’t know if they believe you or not.’ He did not have any legal assistance, but thinks one of the Church’s representatives he met with was a lawyer. ‘They gave me some money, they gave me another $32,000’, while ‘not really saying what happened to me was true, or something like that’.

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