‘I just wish to Christ I’d never been [to the boys’ home] … All those places, I wish I’d never been to ‘em. Only if someone took the time, sat down and done homework with me, sent me to school, had someone to come and play sports with me. A normal kid’s life … I never had that. All I knew was violence.’
Terrence lived with his Aboriginal grandmother for a while, but ‘she was bad to me. She mistreated me. That’s why I ran away from home … ended up on the streets, sniffing glue and stealing cars … All I wanted was … go to school and have an education, but I never made it … ‘cause I got mixed up with the wrong crew’.
In the late 1970s, Terrence was sent to a number of boys’ homes, before ending up at a home run by the De La Salle Brothers in Queensland when he was about 14. ‘We were being abused at the boys’ homes … and when we did run away, they sent us to other boys’ homes, and the same things’d happen again.’
Terrence told the Commissioner, ‘They’d abuse us and say things to us to hold us back from saying things, and when we did say things to Children’s Services, they … said that it was not true, that they wouldn’t do it to us. That’s why we ran away from the boys’ homes’.
When Terrence was sent to the De La Salle home, he ‘thought it’d be a better life … but that was no good either … Didn’t get an education. I missed out on a lot’.
As a punishment at the home ‘they’d get us to do chores where we weren’t supposed to do chores, like in their rooms, the pastors’ rooms. In their rooms … we had access to cigarettes. We had access to alcohol … And we used to make a habit, getting into trouble, so we could go there and skite about it to our friends’.
While he was cleaning the rooms, Terrence was repeatedly sexually assaulted by the Brothers. When he went to clean the toilets ‘they would follow us into the toilet. They would rub me on the backside, hug us. Also they would touch my penis. This was happening every week … That is why I ran away’.
Terrence told the Commissioner that he reported the abuse on numerous occasions. He told Children’s Services. He told his aunt. He told the people who ran the cottages. ‘I cried. I pleaded to ‘em sometimes. Told ‘em about what was happening and they wouldn’t believe it.’ When he ran away and was brought back by the police, they didn’t believe him either.
‘In the boys’ homes they had it over us. We never had a say … They had all the power and control and we couldn’t say anything.’
For Terrence, the biggest impact the abuse has had on his life is that ‘I can’t get on with anyone. My girl, she talks nice to me, but I can’t accept it. She’s a white girl and I think she’s out there to betray me’. It took his partner five years to get Terrence to tell her about the abuse. ‘She wanted to know why I was crying every time I’d drink and I wouldn’t tell her.’
When Terrence ‘got the courage up’ to speak to a counsellor at the support service, Lotus Place, he ‘told him what happened to me and there’s still more bits I need to tell him, but I couldn’t tell him at the time because I was too upset’.
Terrence suffers from significant mental health issues, and is taking medication for these. The medication, ‘calms me. I sleep better … but [it’s still] a struggle’.