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Todd Phillip's story

Todd was placed in the Queensland care system as a toddler in the late 1980s, as his mother’s mental illness meant she couldn’t look after her children. ‘She couldn’t cope with us. It wasn’t her fault but she rang my nan one day and said “All I can do is put them into foster care”. She didn’t want to do it.’

He was placed with a foster family, and stayed with them until his mid-teens. His foster father was ‘all right’ but hardly ever there, so mostly he was cared for by his foster mother, Miranda.

When he was eight years old Miranda’s father, who he called ‘Grandpa’, masturbated him while he was in the shower. He told Miranda that ‘Grandpa touched me’, but she ‘reckoned I was telling lies’ and put Todd in the corner as punishment.

This abuse happened one more time, when he was 12. Grandpa locked the door and put his hands down Todd’s trousers and fondled his genitals. He told Todd ‘just relax, don’t say nothing, keep this between me and you’.

A couple of times later Grandpa warned Todd that ‘if you tell anybody, I’m gonna slap ya’. Todd would leave the house if he came over.

He didn’t think there was any point telling his caseworker about what Grandpa had done, considering the reaction he had from Miranda. ‘I thought if she didn’t believe me, nobody else would.’

He left his placement with Miranda’s family when he was 16, and liked his next family ‘a lot’, becoming good mates with one of their sons.

Todd kept this abuse ‘a secret’ for many years, being ‘a bit too ashamed to say anything. I didn’t want to bring up the past’.

Although on medication since his early teens for his mental health, and seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist regularly, he has not really addressed the abuse with anyone until recently.

He worked for a while and starting using marijuana and other drugs, and has been convicted of drug charges and robbery offences. A friend in prison told him about the Royal Commission, and he was keen to share his experiences to help protect other children.

‘It gives you guys the opportunity to see through our eyes what we are going through. So in the future it helps the kids out, next generation, so they don’t put up with what happened to us. Just gives them a chance.’

Now that he has started to disclose the abuse he finds it plays on his mind less, and he is considering seeing a counsellor to help him further. ‘Over the years it’s always come back to me. Since I came out with it, less frequently, but before I came out with it, it just keeps coming back.’

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