In the mid-1970s Scott was taken from a very violent household when he was four years old and put into care. His parents were both heavy drinkers, which fueled the domestic violence. Also ‘my dad just acted out what he knew … He grew up being flogged’.
Scott was sexually abused in all three of the Western Australian institutions he was placed in.
His mum had always said he was a water baby but Scott soon developed a dread of it. At his first state-run home, water meant bath time, which meant being molested by a particular staff member. Scott was held under water if he tried to jump out. He also grew to hate being naked.
He was molested by the older kids as well. ‘These kids have got this behaviour from adults and are acting it out. That’s what was happening.’
His dad sometimes took him on outings from the home and Scott remembers dreading going back at the end of the day. His dad, who had remarried, applied for custody of Scott but ended up only with access.
During his first three years in care, Scott decided that sexual abuse was a secret thing that adults do. In a letter to the Royal Commission he wrote, ‘I was led to believe that it was a game. A secret game I couldn’t tell anyone or I would get into trouble. I told no one’.
Scott then spent two years with his mum and his new stepfather, living up north, but when she fell pregnant she sent him and his sister back into care.
Scott’s next home had been recommended to his mother by the welfare department. It was run by Catholic nuns, and Scott had to attend weekly church services. It was the man who drove the locals to church who started to touch Scott. He complied, still thinking it was some sort of game. But when the abuse became rape, and the perpetrator threatened him to keep quiet, ‘it ceased to be a game’.
Scott started getting night terrors. He’s sure one of the staff realised what was happening. She brought her own child to work so that Scott wasn’t on his own when he played at the back of the house.
Scott was there for only a few months. He went to live with his dad for a while but was moved on to his third placement, a hostel, because he was such ‘a handful’. He was the only white boy there. The hostel grounds were unsupervised at night and Scott discovered that the culture of the place involved older Aboriginal boys, who were 16 and 17 years old, sexually assaulting the younger ones.
They seemed like men to him. ‘My voice hadn’t even broken, I was 13 years old.’ The boys punched him and threatened to rape his sister, who was also in the hostel, if he didn’t comply sexually. Again, Scott told no one. No staff abused him there but they knew what was going on. Eventually he did threaten to report the boys and the assaults stopped.
Scott went back home when he was 14. He went to school but as hormones kicked in he started having issues with his sexual identity. The abuse started to haunt him ‘and I just started running. And running’.
Scott was expelled from school and got a job, turning to alcohol and marijuana to mask his feelings. He started bouncing between his parents, then went to prison for his first offence.
Scott embarked on a life of crime for the next 25 years. He could start emotional relationships but ‘I was a nuisance to anyone who was in my life, mate … my self-worth was zero’. It was hard to love anybody else properly, especially when he was so angry.
A former chaplain sensed how damaged Scott was and counselled him for years. He did a lot of soul searching and became a Christian in the 2000s. Finding God changed everything. He became drug free, for a start. ‘He’s freed me, mostly, from this shit. From the guilt.’ He’s now a peer support worker in prison.
He hasn’t reported the abuse and doesn’t want to. Scott believes that God will hold the perpetrators accountable. ‘Ten years ago I would have murdered them if I’d come across them’ but not now.
Scott came to the Commission because he saw a poster about it in jail. He’s indifferent to financial compensation for himself but if he can help his kids, then he’s interested.
He’s looking forward to regular counselling when he gets out so that he can stabilise his behaviour. ‘When you try to turn to people that are supposed to love you’, he said, ‘and they are too busy holding onto a can, and tell you to fuck off, then you start taking different forms of demeanour to try and get your needs addressed.’
Scott believes there needs to be more TV advertising about sexual abuse, more awareness about rights, and consequences.
‘It needs to be yelled from the loudspeakers of heaven that we know what you’re doing and it’s not allowed and it’s not accepted.’