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Troy Peter's story

Troy was 17 when the incident happened, he told the Commissioner.

‘I was very young and gullible. I was too trusting. I’ve learned the hard way, not to trust anyone.’

It was the early 1980s, and Troy was an assistant cub leader in a scout group, in the New South Wales coastal town where he lived. He’d started out in the group as a cub himself, when he was eight. ‘I was really glad Mum took me to cubs, because cubs and scouts sort of fathered me in a way, ‘cause my own dad – I love him but he hasn’t been there in a way that I need him, that’s good as a dad.’

One day the scout leader, Jack Manson, invited Troy back to his place. Troy drove himself to Manson’s home – he’d just recently got his licence. Manson’s wife and kids were there, and remained inside the house when Manson took Troy out into the garden.

‘Next thing, like in a split second, he’d pulled my pants down and started giving me a head job’, Troy said.

‘I froze for a minute – I suppose I froze because it felt good; I’d never experienced that before - it was the first time. But then I thought, this is a total violation and betrayal, 100 per cent, how dare he.’ As Manson tried to insert his finger into Troy’s anus, Troy pushed him off and bolted to his car.

Troy later told his parents what Manson had done but they didn’t believe him. He also reported it to police but they didn’t believe him either and, it turned out later, didn’t even record his complaint. He didn’t tell anyone in the scout group, and left it soon afterwards.

Troy believes Manson’s assault turned him into a victim. As an adult he experienced further serious sexual assaults. He traces his response in these situations back to the attack by Manson.

‘I go into freeze, which goes against me’, he explained, ‘’cause then these perpetrators take it that I’m giving approval, even though I’m not giving approval. But that’s where I’m still trying …

‘The police and men in general have the attitude: how could a man allow another man to do that to you? But I’m a small man; these men have been big men who are bullies and cowards and what I call psychopaths …’

Troy reported several of these assaults to police who were not helpful.

‘I’ve had the same attitude from all of them. They’ve said I must have done something to encourage it, deserve it or ask for it, or bring it on. And that really hurt me and I lost respect for police even though I am a law-abiding citizen.’

He tried to access other support, but was told the sexual assault unit was under-funded and under-resourced and they didn’t have staff available to help him. Eventually, through community health services he was referred to a counsellor in another small town some distance away – ‘a really nice lady’, who he saw for an hour a month for six months. ‘It wasn’t enough but it was better than nothing.’

With later assaults, he decided not to go to police.

‘I was too fearful I was going to get the same attitude and it’s just going to break my heart and devastate me and do more harm … I go downhill and give up and think why bother.’

Troy has done a lot of self-help courses since then. Often the focus has been on learning to protect himself.

‘I’m learning to be more assertive instead of passive. I thought being passive was being easy-going and you’d have good things happen to your life – but the hard thing about being passive is you victimise yourself too much, and people don’t respect your boundaries and try to walk all over you’, he told the Commissioner.

He’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s, he said, and is grateful for the help he gets from his support person Katy, who came with him to the Royal Commission. ‘Katy’s been a huge blessing to me in my life.’ Christianity has also helped him.

‘In my life there’s been a lot of turmoil and bullying … I’ve done my best to be a gentleman. I‘ve been a Christian most of my life, and that’s what gives me faith and gives me a reason and keeps me going in this world, because this world’s been – even though we live in a lucky country, this world’s been very unlucky for me.’

Several years ago he asked police to look again at his complaint about Manson. That’s when he discovered there was no record of it. He also applied for victim’s compensation, but was knocked back.

‘They sent a letter back to me saying it was because of lack of evidence, ‘cause there was no police statement.’

Troy is self-employed and lives on a bush block not far from his parents, ‘which on the one hand is a blessing and on the other hand it’s not, because they still try to tell me what to do and boss me round at times’.

He’s not in a relationship, and doesn’t have children. In his 40s now, he believes it’s too late for that to happen. ‘I’ve been single all my life. I’d love have to have a wife and children … I feel like I’ve missed out on that opportunity.’

Despite the impact of Manson’s assault throughout his life, he doesn’t hold the scouts responsible.

‘I’ve never blamed the scouts. Like, that was the best thing in my childhood, cubs and scouts, and I don’t hold them accountable at all … I’m really glad I had them in my life, when I was younger.’

He believes better education about sexual abuse would make a difference in future, and that teachers need to know how to help children learn to set boundaries and be assertive. And police: ‘They need to believe people when they come in, instead of telling them they must have done something to deserve it …

‘I believe there needs to be a lot more education overall.’

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