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Ron's story

Ron described his adoptive family, the Careys, as ‘perfect’.

Ron’s birth mother was severely mental ill and had a drug addiction, so he went into the care of Barnardos at the age of two. From here he was fostered by the Careys, and at seven they officially adopted him. His early years with them were the best years of his life. There were presents at Christmas, enough food on the table, warm clothes, and school to go to.

‘At the time I never realised how lucky I was. Only later.’ Ron’s older brother Michael was fostered out as well but his foster families weren’t as stable.

Barnardos probably thought they were doing the right thing, Ron told the Commissioner, when they placed Michael in foster care with the Careys. By this stage Michael was 14 and Ron was 10. ‘I was very happy to receive my biological brother, my blood brother … and he’s the one who sexually assaulted me.’

Michael was a good brother, at least ‘until everything started changing’. At first it was small things. Michael would come in while Ron was changing or walk into the bathroom while Ron was in there. He would apologise but stay a bit too long before leaving.

Then one day Michael offered Ron a lolly and told him to close his eyes. Ron obeyed and Michael kissed him on the lips. Ron was shocked and didn’t know what to think, but he didn’t tell anyone.

Michael started touching Ron’s bottom, then his genitals. He’d go up into his bunk and rub himself against Ron. This went on for three to four months. Then Ron, scared it was going to get worse but not wanting to upset his parents, told his auntie and uncle.

They told his parents. ‘And that’s when everything fell apart for my brother.’

The Careys didn’t want to report the abuse at first. They wanted to keep Michael in the family and get him help, not just move him on to another foster home. But Michael angrily denied Ron’s accusations.

Eventually the Careys did report the abuse and Michael was removed from the family. Ron gave a statement to Barnardos but nothing else happened.

Now Ron resented his parents, and was angry that they’d let Michael into their perfect family unit. They should have checked that he wasn’t a paedophile, Ron told the Commissioner.

Ron wanted to get back at the Careys and he used any means that he could to do it. He started doing ‘stupid stuff, kids’ stuff … I wanted them punished’. He stole things and broke into their friends’ houses. But the Careys kept forgiving him. He mucked up at school so they put him in a special school.

‘They didn’t take it seriously. So, I went a bit overboard and I killed someone.’

Ron is now serving prison time for the murder. He was advised to just be passive when he went into juvenile detention so that things would go better for him. But after repeated bashings by up to six inmates at a time, he realised he had to learn to fight, and so he did. He’s now classified as a violent prisoner but views his aggression more as a self-defence requirement.

A few years ago, Ron and his brother Michael were put in the same cell block. Ron was on the point of killing Michael for the harm he did to him. But he changed his mind. ‘I’m better than that. I want my parole … I want my life.’

The brothers sat and talked. Michael told Ron how he’d been sexually abused as a kid. And then Ron forgave Michael for abusing him.

As for support on the outside, Ron has no one. The Careys stuck by him for a long time but his ongoing violent behaviour in prison became too much. He’s determined to make it right with them and others when he gets out. ‘I’ve got to make a lot of apologies.’

Ron gets through every day by suppressing what he’s done. ‘I put that far, far back in my mind, so that it seems like I never did it.’ As for psychological help, he can see counsellors whenever he wants. ‘But does it help? Nuh … They keep saying I’m normal.’

He believes that foster families need access to a child offenders registry, so any child who commits an offence and is then fostered can still be watched by police.

Ron told the Commissioner that there should be a facility for child offenders for up to 20 kids at a time. And abused people, who’ve been trained as counsellors, could come and explain to the kids in that facility the effects of sexual abuse, in a more positive way, so the kids understand what it is that they’re doing. ‘That sounds good, doesn’t it?’

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