Troy migrated to Australia as a child, and was teased at school for his accent and learning difficulties. In the 1970s he started getting into trouble for stealing and skipping school.
When he was nine, the welfare department suggested to his parents that he be placed in care as he was ‘uncontrollable’. He was sent to an Adelaide Anglican children’s home, and remembers having welts on his bottom and legs from the beatings he received.
The home was very open with visitors, who were free to come and go as they please even at night. On weekends there would be limited staff supervision at the home. This gave Marty, a foster father to one of the other boys staying there, the opportunity to sexually abuse Troy.
Marty grabbed Troy by the neck, squeezed his testicles and forced him to perform sexual acts. This abuse happened on three or four occasions, and one time there was another man involved too. Troy also remembers another incident when he was in bed, and an unknown man ‘pulled back my sheet and started playing with me’.
While he didn’t consider the abuse ‘a punishment’ as such, he believed ‘I was there for what I done, that’s what you sort of expect. It’s only later in my life that I understood it’s not’.
Troy began running away from the home and he was soon returned to his family. He did not tell anyone about the abuse at the time, and tried to behave well so he did not have to return to the home.
In his 20s Troy joined the military, where he was subjected to a sexual assault by other recruits as part of an ‘initiation’ process (leaving him with significant injuries). After this he went AWOL and when found, was detained in the correctional facility, where he came close to suicide. Eventually he was discharged on mental health grounds.
The abuse he experienced as a child and young adult led to severe depression, and he has been on several antidepressant medications. Since leaving the defence force he has occasionally used marijuana to self-medicate and escape the memories of the abuse.
‘Sometimes in my depressive states I go down for a couple of days, and I can’t keep my mind off it, what’s so bad and what’s so wrong. And I find that if I have a smoke of that, I’ll kind of look at grass growing and not think about it ... I know it’s illegal, but ...’
When Troy began experienced marital difficulties, he disclosed the abuse to his wife and their counsellor. His wife used his history against him when they separated by implying he might be a danger to their children, but he was assessed by a psychologist and psychiatrist, and found not to be any risk at all.
Troy told the Commissioner that being a father was the most important role he had ever held. He recognises he is an anxious and overprotective parent, and having children triggered memories of the abuse he experienced as a child.
At the moment Troy is not sure about reporting the abuse at the home to police, but is considering reporting the incident in the defence force to officials.
Realising he is not the only person to have experienced sexual abuse as a child has helped Troy believe he was not to blame for what happened to him.
‘I know with the Royal Commission a lot of other people are coming forward, so I don’t feel different. For a long time I thought I was different, I wasn’t quite good enough, or there was something wrong with me and that’s why that happened. And it was my fault.’