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Scotty Ryan's story

Scotty was a young boy when his parents separated and placed him and his siblings with another family. Desperately wanting to go back home, Scotty and his siblings ran away from the other family, but their house was empty. He never saw his parents again.

In the early 1950s, when he was about six, Scotty was picked up by the police after wandering the streets for several weeks. He was made a ward of the state and moved to a reception centre in regional Victoria.

Scotty and his siblings were then placed in an orphanage run by the Christian Brothers. He disliked every minute of his seven year stay. Education was limited, caning was frequent, and the food was terrible. He was also forced to work in the kitchen. ‘They treated me like I was an animal’, he said.

At the orphanage, Scotty was sexually abused by a Christian Brother. He has blocked out the memories of the abuse and does not know the name of his perpetrator. He told no one at the time, not even his brothers.

‘Who would believe an 11 or 13 year old against a grown man?’

The abuse ceased when Scotty was moved to a youth hostel in a different town. However, the move separated him from his brothers, and he lost contact with them. Rather than attend school, Scotty worked for the Christian Brothers - something he disliked because of the cruel treatment he and others received.

Scotty described his teenage self as a nasty person. He got into trouble with the police several times, and often beat up other residents at the youth hostel.

In his late teens, Scotty left the hostel and got a job with the carnivals which he really enjoyed. By the mid-1970s, he was touring around Australia, away from large cities and ‘awful people’, and became a nicer person. He stopped committing minor crimes, and turned his life around. He met his wife along the way.

‘I got paid to see Australia - it changed me life.’

Throughout his adulthood, Scotty has suffered from flashbacks and nightmares. He has trouble falling asleep, and thinks he always will.

In his 30s, Scotty disclosed the abuse to his wife. He didn’t disclose everything but it did help. He then came to the Royal Commission. At the time of his private session, Scotty had spoken to his lawyer about a compensation claim and was waiting for a response.

‘I just can’t take it anymore. It’s ripped the guts out of me.’

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