‘I lost it at Nan’s because I’ve got like something wrong with me you know, ADHD or bi-polar or something, and I lost it at Nan’s house – got kicked out of there, so I smashed up Nan’s house. I went on the run and the coppers pulled me up with the bloke and then like if you can get someone to live with now, you’re released in five minutes. And I didn’t ask no one or nothing. I just do the time. I don’t really care. And he, this bloke said, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll take him in”.’
In the 2000s, Tyler damaged his grandmother’s house and fled. Knowing he was wanted by New South Wales Police, he eventually handed himself in and was told that as a 16-year-old, he could be released on bail if he had accommodation. A man at the police station offered his home as a place to stay and this was accepted, despite no check of the man’s background or circumstances being undertaken. It later transpired that he was a convicted sex offender.
Tyler told the Commissioner he thought the man, John, looked familiar from a time he’d lived on the streets north of Sydney. In the few weeks Tyler was in the house, he was sexually abused by John after being given numerous drugs. Tyler had bought marijuana at a friend’s house but thought something was added during the time John prepared it for them to smoke.
‘I went for a shower, fucking got out and he’s got it mulled up and all that’, Tyler said. ‘I didn’t think nothing of it so I’ve hit it, and weed’s never done it before, you know, just dropped me. And I was still like awake but I couldn’t move, I couldn’t do much. So I’m thinking, “Eh, what’s going on here?’ you know … I was partying all weekend and came back and got on it with him. Same weed I been smoking up there too. Got back, had a cone with him you know and just dropped. I’m thinking “Eh?” and like next thing you know he’s putting me in the shower with him. Yeah. And put me on the bed … I’m thinking, “Who is this cunt?”’
Tyler remembered passing out and waking in the shower to find John sucking his penis. He also remembers waking up in bed while he was being raped. As soon as he could, he ran from the house. Picked up by police, he was taken to the children’s court where the judge told him John was a sex offender and not a suitable person to be living with.
‘He was sitting up behind the counter there and he was like, “You can’t go back because he’s a sexual offender”. The judge asked me straight out, “Did he ever do anything to you?” and I didn’t know what to do, you know. And there was too many people in the court room to actually say, “Yeah”; to say anything really about it. I couldn’t deal with it.’
In the three years after the abuse occurred, Tyler felt himself having trouble ‘dealing with it’. He’d bought a car ‘to live in and kill meself at the same time’, and had started using ice as well as marijuana because it helped him forget. ‘I just got that down’, he said. ‘I couldn’t deal with nothing. I’m trying to deal with it now you know.’
He spoke to the Commissioner in prison where he was serving a sentence for theft and driving offences. Before contacting the Royal Commission, he hadn’t disclosed the abuse to anyone except a friend he’d been living with on the street who’d had a similar experience. ‘I had mental health [people] there for a while but I never told them nothing. I weren’t game enough to, you know. I didn’t know if they’d believe me or what.’
Tyler didn’t think of telling the police about the abuse. He said if it happened to a girlfriend or a child of his, he’d manage the situation himself. ‘Mate, I wouldn’t go to the coppers if it was my kid ’cause I know what it feels like. I’d go straight to the bloke and I’d deal with it that way. But out of it, I sort of respect women a bit more too you know, so it’s given me one upside. That’s about it.’
He recently started thinking about talking to a counsellor because in the weeks since he’d first spoken about the abuse, he’d felt worse.
‘I reckon by the time I’m 25, I’ll be dead from it you know, just play on me mind too long. So I need the actual help before it gets too out of control. It’s only been two, three years you know, and it’s already got that bad where I’m trying to hang meself in the cell or all that, you know. And I used to think that’s the weak way out. Escape from me own mind. I sit in bed of a night trying to sleep. I can’t sleep ’cause these voices just keep kicking over you know, like it’s just got that out of control, you think I can’t deal with this no more. I need to do something about it or fucking lose. Just give up the fight all together.’
When he finished serving his sentence, Tyler planned to move out of New South Wales and ‘kick a goal’ in another state.
‘This time I get out, I need a change. Me whole family they’re pretty much saying, we’ll see you back in here a couple of fucking weeks, couple of months tops. Only Dad [knows] and he says the same shit. It’s breaking my heart, me whole family thinks I’m just a jailbird.’