Tony Blake's story

Tony grew up in a large Aboriginal family in the 1980s. Until he was eight he lived with his uncle, then returned to his parents. When they split up and his mother remarried, Tony wasn’t comfortable with his stepfather and started to run away a lot. He would stay with friends and ‘did a lot of crime’ with them.

At 10 years of age he was caught in a house doing a break in. The owner was there and bashed Tony for two to three hours. When Tony went home afterwards, his stepfather acted like nothing had happened.

Tony was introduced to drugs at the age of 10 and continued to do crime, such as stealing cars. When he was around 14 he was sent to a youth detention centre in Brisbane. He was sent to the centre twice and spent around three years there, returning when he was 16.

He got into trouble a lot, and was often bashed. On one occasion he was beaten so severely by an officer that two others had to pull the man off him.

A few of the female staff sexually abused Tony. ‘They would, sort of, rub themselves up against me, like, in front of me. Touch me on my penis. Grab my penis and stuff. Grab my hand, make … physical contact with their body parts, like, breasts, backside … and just forcibly push themselves up against me. They considered, like, it was okay to do. I didn’t know what was okay at the time.’

At one point Tony told one of these women that he didn’t want this to happen anymore but she replied ‘It’s okay, you’ve got nothing to worry about’.

‘I was sort of devastated … I started using drugs a bit more to sort of escape that, that thought in my head, what had happened.’

Tony was also raped by his older cellmate. ‘He put his penis inside my arse. I didn’t know what was going on at the time, you know. I didn’t know what was okay or not.’ He deliberately caused trouble so that he would be moved from that cell.

Later on Tony was sent to an Aboriginal detention centre. One of the male workers there took him into an office and said he would ‘help’ him if he performed sexual acts but ‘I actually had the courage to say “No” … because I was abused that much that I got sick of it’. ‘I know the guys, the boys that used to get cigarettes for sexual favours. I was just glad I didn’t smoke.’

Tony has spent much of his life in prison. He’s on depression medication to help him sleep, and finds physical intimacy with his girlfriend difficult. He’s had drug and alcohol counselling for 10 years but has not disclosed his sexual abuse during these sessions. Nor has he told his partner. ‘She still wants me to open up … about my history. I still tell her “I will tell you one day, just not yet”.’

His first disclosure was to the Commissioner. He’s now interested in finding a trauma informed counsellor and is considering his legal options. He wants to break the cycle he’s in.

‘I’m still stuck in a cycle mentally ... where I have felt hate and I share a lot of hate towards authority and stuff, because of it. And I feel like sometimes I am institutionalised because of it … I’ve been coming and going out of this place [prison] for the last 20 years or so and, you know, I’ve finally had the chance to say something and to get it off my chest and actually talk to you guys about it … Might even open doors for me ... because I want to move on in life and I still get those thoughts where I’m still stuck in that cycle of crime and doing drugs to escape that pain, to cover the loss.’

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