It wasn’t the physical violence that made Saul comply with the officer’s demands – but rather the threats that he’d never return to his mother.
Saul never met his father, and his stepfather was a heavy drinker who was very violent towards him. ‘I went through primary school with a lot of bruises all the time. Sooner or later child welfare got wind of it.’
In the mid-1980s he was removed from the family and made a ward of the state, moving between foster care placements and various children’s homes for the next decade or so.
When he was around 11 years old he was living in a youth reception centre in Melbourne. ‘The officers there they seemed to like giving you a good belting ... I just didn’t think nothing of it, because I was getting belted at home anyway so it didn’t really worry me.’
An officer named Trevor would strip search Saul incessantly, ordering him to take his clothes off and making him touch his own genitals. Saul would do as he was told, having been threatened that otherwise ‘I’ll never go back to my mum’.
Saul did not tell anyone about the abuse but assumed other kids were experiencing the same thing as they ‘would tell me to watch out for this guy all the time’.
In his early teens Saul starting engaging in criminal activity, spending time in juvenile detention and eventually prison as a result. He started using drugs around this time too, ‘to block out stuff’, and most of his offending has related to his drug use.
‘I don’t know, I felt better when I used drugs ... There was a lot of things happening ... I was pretty depressed all the time ... I just didn’t really care, I didn’t care about life really.’
The longest continuous period he has spent out of prison as an adult has been four years. ‘I reckon it’s impacted my whole life ... It’s taken all this time for me to even say anything, to bring it out. Because I was too embarrassed when I was younger ... I didn’t want to tell police, because I had this thing with police.’ Saul was in his 20s when he met his partner, and they had several children together.
Although he used to think he was ‘alright’ and didn’t need any help, now he is older he realises ‘I used to hate everyone. I used to blame everyone for everything I used to do ... and now it’s just different’.
Recently Saul started to speak with a fellow inmate as well as his partner about the sexual abuse he experienced. ‘She said it’s disgusting, that something could happen when you’re in care, it shouldn’t happen to you.’
He feels he’s ‘grown up’ a bit now, and that when he next gets out of prison things will be different. ‘I’ve been doing education, and staying out of trouble. I’ve got to an age now I’m just sort of over it ... I don’t know, I just got to that part of my life now I’m just so over jail ... You’re either over it by my age, or you’re never gonna change.’