‘Dad held us hostage in the house for three days taking pot shots at mum with a .22 when we were young.’
Rolf’s childhood was unhappy, marred by disruptive house moves as well as physical and emotional abuse. ‘Mum and Dad split up when I was two years old’, Rolf told the Commissioner. ‘Dad kidnapped me when I was six for a couple of years then took me back to Mum. Then Dad came and got me again when I was 10 until I was 12.’
Rolf’s mother had mental health problems and his stepfather gambled and drank heavily. Rolf’s father was in a motorbike gang and traded in drugs. He also had mental health issues. ‘I stole a cigarette lighter off me dad and he smashed my head with a hammer.’
Living at times in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, Rolf lived with many different foster carers. In the early 1990s, when he was 12 or 13, Rolf was placed with a single middle-aged man in his home in central Victoria.
‘I thought it was pretty suss straight away.’
‘He’d always come into the shower and always be inquisitive on me about what I was doing and wouldn’t let me out of the house.’
Rolf was with this man only a few days. Sexual abuse began straight away – the man touched Rolf’s genitals many times. Eventually he grabbed the boy and tried to rape him. Rolf threatened the foster carer with a knife and ran away.
The streets were home to Rolf for two months before the police picked him up. He entered the juvenile justice system in Victoria and was frequently in trouble on stealing and assault charges all through his teen years.
Rolf describes himself as ‘careless’ at that time. ‘The government and everyone gave up on me so I gave up on myself. I didn’t feel like I belonged then.’
He felt he could not reveal the sexual abuse to his caseworkers at the time. ‘I thought they would look down on me for it.’
‘I’ve been thinking I deserved it. I’ve always asked myself, “Why? Why me?”’ Rolf has ‘self-medicated’ with alcohol for much of his life.
Rolf says he has trust and anger management issues because of the sexual abuse he suffered. ‘I’ve been cautious and always scared of what other people can do.’ He has struggled with his relationships. Despite this he has fathered children to two partners and they are all doing well.
Rolf managed to avoid jail in his adult years until recently. He has held down a job and kept a lid on his short temper. ‘I finally snapped because I was getting used and abused, treated like an idiot.’ Rolf found himself back in jail for a short sentence after assaulting someone.
Rolf has given up alcohol. He has a supportive fiancee whom he plans to marry once he is released. With her support he believes he can again get his life back on track and create a new life for them both.