At 13 years old, Stefan was placed under a court order for truanting and breaking into cars. It was the early 1990s and he was sent to a regional youth detention centre after the judge ‘gave me chances after chances to go to school, and I didn’t go’.
Most of time he was treated fairly well by the staff at the centre, but one of the female workers used to come to his cell at night and ‘make me do [sexual] things to her and that, and I didn’t like it’. This abuse happened multiple times over a three-month period, only ending when he was released.
The woman told Stefan he would get into trouble if he told anyone about it, so he kept quiet. These experiences left him unable to trust adults and authority figures. He became further involved with crime and ‘I hit the drugs, mainly marijuana’.
As he got into more trouble his education suffered, and he barely attended high school. His drug abuse increased, including a recent addiction to methamphetamine.
It is only in the past year or so that Stefan has told his girlfriend about these incidents, and he has now disclosed the abuse to a counsellor too. He believes that the staff member is now deceased, so does not wish to report the matter to police. ‘She’s not going to hurt anyone else.’
Stefan has not applied for any form of compensation. He does not think an apology would mean much to him, and ‘money doesn’t change what happened’.
However, ongoing counselling would be an effective way to compensate him for the impacts of the abuse. He believes that if he had disclosed the abuse earlier and accessed support he may have been able to avoid a lot of his drug dependency and criminal activity. ‘Since I’ve sort of opened up and let it out, I feel a bit better.’
Stefan would like to speak to kids who are going through juvenile justice now, and ‘have a talk to them ... To let them know you can open up to people, there is counsellors ... Even if the workers do threaten you or whatever, just tell your family member or someone’.