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Terence Clive's story

Terence was born in in the late 1940s, and taken from his mother as a newborn. He was fostered out to another Aboriginal family, in regional New South Wales. ‘They weren’t my real parents. I always thought they were.’

Terence’s life was happy. He was a ‘normal kid enjoying … life’, but when he was six years old, his foster mother died.

‘Mum died and it was just me and Dad. Dad was working and had no one to take care of me.’ The Aboriginal Protection Board of New South Wales decided to send Terence to a government-run boys’ home for Aboriginal children, where he lived for 10 years.

‘I asked my foster father, “Where am I going Dad?” and he said “You’re just going on a little holiday, that’s all and you’ll be back home soon”.’

On the way to the home Terence was put into the same vehicle as an older boy. On the journey, the boy raped him. ‘He was coming to the boys’ home with me. He was taken away too … he was much older and bigger.’

The initial effect of the assault was that when he arrived at the home Terence kept to himself.

‘I kept myself isolated from the other boys, me brothers … I kept myself isolated. Even today, I’m very quiet … with other people. Even with my father … I won’t tell him what happened to me. He’s too old to understand.’

The home itself was a brutal place of punishment and abuse. While Terence escaped any further sexual abuse, he was often punished and still feels distressed about the treatment he and his ‘brothers’ in the home received.

‘I had plans for one of the staff, to kill [him]. The way [he] would treat me and the other brothers, the boys, in the home … he was bad … He tried to get me one time … got hold of me and pushed my back up against a brick wall … he didn’t like me much. I don’t think he liked any of us in the boys’ home.’

When Terence had to leave the home at 16 years of age, the assault preyed on his mind. ‘That’s when I started my heavy drinking then. I tried to drown it out but it never worked … the pain … [It was] always with me. That’s why I drank and drank and drank.’

He still remembers the assault clearly today. ‘I get flashbacks … of the boys’ home, of my hurt … I get a lot of them. In the early years when I was younger I was getting a lot of the flashback of what happened to me … I’m messed up for life.’

Terence worked solidly until he was in his 40s, when he had to go onto a disability pension. ‘I loved work. Today I want to go off the pension and go back to work … I wanted to carry on with … work but too much stuff going through my memory.’

When Terence met his biological family, he found it distressing. ‘We had no contact. We could sit at the table in the kitchen and we just look at each other … nothing in common … We’ve got nothing to talk about. I find it very hard.

‘Me and Dad don’t get on, he doesn’t want me. I went up country one day to visit my father and he said, “You’d better get, or I’ll call the police”. I said “Dad, I’m your son. I’m your only boy”. “Git – I’ll call the police”.’

Intimate relationships with women have been difficult for Terence. ‘My relationship with a woman is only two or three months … I talk to them but I don’t want to get too close to them now … I don’t want to get hurt again … [I’m] frightened of the relationship, that it [abuse] might happen to me again.’ Terence never married and has no children.

Terence’s abuser only stayed at the home for a short period and never abused Terence again. Recently, with the help of the boys’ home association, Terence met his abuser. He initiated the meeting because he wanted to tell the man how the rape had affected his life. Terence also wanted to forgive his rapist.

While the meeting was ‘really worthwhile’, Terence struggles with the effects of the assault every day. He has anxiety and depression and has undertaken ‘a lot of counselling for alcohol and drugs’ and the sexual abuse. He feels that he is ‘messed up’ in the head from his abuse, his time in the home, and from being taken away from his family. He has attempted to take his own life a number of times.

‘I called them Mum and Dad and they accepted me … Now I come home to my biological family … they don’t want nothing to do with me … Who am I? Where am I from? … It’s a hard road.’

He lives in a shared house with other men who ‘understand my problem’. He likes ‘getting out and mixing with people too, in town and in the streets’ as it helps him clear his mind. Reading and drawing also take up much of his time.

‘That’s my life. I want to move beyond [the abuse], I want to move on.’

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