‘I’m from a single parent home … My father was an Aboriginal man. He … hurt my mother in ways that are unimaginable. My only childhood memory of my father is watching him pick me mum up and throw her into a bonfire. That’s the type of man my father was …
‘I had a beautiful mother. I came from a beautiful home … We were poor, but we were clean, fed and sort of happy. I grew up in a Housing Commission area and we were … sort of rogues … I started smoking pot when I was about 15, and when I was 16 … I started playing up and I went to [the juvenile detention centre].’
When Todd started smoking pot, it was ‘me trying to fit in. It was such a norm [where I grew up] and it’s fucking sad because … the thought of [my children] smoking pot at the age of 15 … sickens me, but yeah, it’s what happened. It was the social norm’.
Todd began acting out. ‘I was just a bit of a rogue. Siphoning petrol out of cars. Sneaking out of the house to meet girls. Every now and then we would drink and get drunk and you know, one day I punched a high school teacher.’ As a result, Todd was sent to a juvenile detention centre in New South Wales in the early 1990s.
‘I don’t want to sound like an idiot but [the detention centre] has changed who I am today. It scarred me. I choose to do drugs, but it’s fucking destroyed who I was as a person. I went there an innocent boy, bit of a rogue, and … every ounce of innocence that I had was stripped and ripped away from me …
‘I couldn’t touch my mother anymore. I remember it was Christmas Day at [the detention centre] was the last time I kissed me mother, last time I held her. I’ve never been able to have proper relationships … It destroyed me.’
Todd was sexually abused by an older inmate who was in the centre for sexual offences he had committed as a minor.
‘I remember … I was asleep and I felt sort of a little bit uneasy and then I felt a lot of pressure around me anus area and a lot of pain and he was using his fingers while I was asleep. I woke up. I was bleeding from that area.’
Todd ran straight to the officers’ station and ‘it’s embarrassing to say, but I just said, “That guy was fingering me bum” and the officer laughed in me face. Told me to go back to bed’.
When Todd got up the next morning everyone was laughing at him and calling him names, so he bashed his abuser in the shower. ‘I punched him in the face … I was punished and I went to [a prison farm] and it was full of young murderers and stuff … dangerous boys.’
Todd phoned his juvenile justice officer and told her what had happened, and he was sent back to the centre. ‘I think it’s fucking messed up because it was all swept under the rug.’
Todd spent four more months in there and after he went home, ‘my mum’ll tell you, I was never the same. I was very shut off. I isolated a lot. I was very, very … I was an angry bully and I … went around bashing people’.
Todd bashed people who he heard had abused children, and people who were gay. ‘I have nothing against people who are gay … I think, “Live and let live”, and I’ve got gay friends. But when I was a kid, I bashed ‘em … for no reason at all. Just because I thought they were sick and twisted because of what happened to me.’
Todd has spent most of his adult life in jail. The longest period he has spent on the outside was three or four years, just prior to his current incarceration.
‘I grew up … I did a couple of sessions of counselling and we spoke about me sexual assault and stuff and I addressed my drug behaviour. I started going to NA [Narcotics Anonymous]. I was also an exhibited Indigenous artist … I was a poster boy for turning your life around.’
Todd believes that it was ‘my inadequacy to deal with what happened to me as a kid’ that put him back in jail this time. ‘[My ex-partner] would tell you about the horrible dreams I have, when I wake up in the night, screaming … I didn’t like [her] touching me … I’m not an affectionate person. I want to be, but I just feel … not clean and it’s just a horrible feeling …
‘Certain smells remind me of it. I remember the officer was drinking a cup of tea, and when I smell tea … it just takes me back there.’
When he saw his abuser’s cousin on the street, ‘it triggered something in me and after seven years of being clean … I scored some ice and I had a 20-day bender and … I alienated everybody in my life. I went bad’. His current term in jail is the result of this bender.
Todd told the Commissioner that he should have reported the sexual abuse to the police as an adult, but ‘I’ve been ashamed of what happened and it was only a few months ago that I came out and told my partner, [and] then we started talking to … the counsellor …
‘I want something done. I don’t care so much about compensation … More than anything, I want that officer to stand up and be held accountable, because he laughed in a 16-year-old boy’s face and it sounds so stupid, but it destroyed my life. Like, my mum will tell you, I went away and the person that came back … was not me mum’s son.’
Todd hopes that ‘dealing with [the abuse] and getting something done might give me a little bit of closure. For about 15 years I’ve been meaning to do something, but I’m not putting it off anymore. I’m doing something … I’m dealing with it … I was just a young, baby-faced 16-year-old boy and I was a victim and I was treated fucking terribly. I was.’
Once he gets out of prison this time, Todd is going stay off drugs and seek more counselling. ‘I’m going to. I’m not going to let this affect my life anymore.’