Trevor Benjamin's story

Trevor had a traumatic early childhood in the 1970s in regional Victoria. Both his parents were alcoholics and his father was violent. Trevor’s earliest memory was of his father raping his mother.

At the age of four Trevor was made a ward of the state and sent to a children’s home in Melbourne. When he was six years old he, along with some of his siblings, was sent to a different children’s home, which had a main building with living areas and a number of cottages.

Trevor said the staff were cruel. He remembers being locked in an outdoor box for punishment and being made to eat soap. However he does have a strong and happy memory of a kind staff member, Jenny. She really cared and looked out for him and his memories of her have been a source of resilience throughout his life.

Sometime between the ages of 10 and 12 Trevor was sexually abused by two female staff members. The first incident involved the staff member pushing Trevor to the floor of a living room. She rolled him onto his back and then jumped on him, straddling his groin. He remembers screaming out for her to stop and her telling him to be quiet. The staff member left him on the floor, crying. Trevor remembers going off to bed that night crying himself to sleep.

As Trevor states in a written document he supplied to the Royal Commission:

‘From then on I remember being on my own a lot and very quiet. I remember being picked on and teased … for being quiet. I was told I was weird and a loner’.

On another occasion, he was told to go have a bath. When he arrived he noticed the bath was already running. A staff member, Gabrielle Walker, then came in and told him to lie on his back in the bath. She lathered him up with soap and fondled his penis. She then told him to roll over and she digitally penetrated his rectum. It hurt. Gabrielle told him to clean himself up and, as she walked out, she said ‘God knows who has been good’. Trevor remembers ‘sitting in the bath with my head on my knees, sobbing and confused at what had occurred’. From that moment on, Trevor tucked the bed covers in tight in an effort to feel safe.

Trevor didn’t disclose the abuse to anyone at the time. He was too afraid. At around 13 years of age Trevor was discharged and returned to his mother and her new partner. Having lived in an institution for so long, Trevor found his new life ‘scary’. He did make some friends, but never disclosed the abuse to them.

Trevor took a lot of drugs as a youth, mainly marijuana. He completed Year 10 and found a series of ‘odd jobs’. In later years he became addicted to prescription drugs, given to him because he couldn’t sleep.

The abuse has impacted on Trevor’s relationships and he finds it difficult to trust people. The past year has been particularly difficult. Although he developed a career, he has recently lost his job, which he loved, as well as custody of his children. He told the Commissioner he has never been a confident person and could never save money. Due to homelessness, he has been sleeping on his mother’s couch. He is on antidepressants for suicidal thoughts.

Trevor decided to speak to the Royal Commission when he heard the media announcement given by Julia Gillard. ‘There was more interest in it [child sexual abuse]. More people were opening up and coming out.’ He went to the support service Open Place first, which was where he talked about his childhood abuse for the first time – after 30 years of silence. That’s when he obtained his welfare file which was so heavily redacted he found it difficult to understand. He also, in recent years, disclosed to his mother about the abuse, which he found ‘very difficult’ because some of his siblings had also been abused.

‘I just want an apology. I just want … something acknowledging what happened. That’s all I want.’

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