Tyrone Vincent's story

Tyrone grew up on a cattle and sheep property in rural Queensland, until his dad had an affair and his parents separated. His mum took him and his siblings back to her home town in the early 1980s, but her mental health deteriorated and she turned to alcohol. Tyrone was then billeted out to live with other people she knew.

As a young boy, Tyrone’s aunty made him have sex with her. He was also sexually and physically abused by a male relative, Monty, whom he lived with when he was around 13 years old. Tyrone was embarrassed and confused that Monty would brag to his own friends about the sexual things he had done to him.

‘He was a violent man ... I didn’t tell no-one – he was the one telling people ... He was telling his friends, they’d taunt me and tease me about it you know.’

He then moved in with another relative, James, who sexually abused him. James would force him to stand naked in front of men who came to the house while they masturbated. The men were charged a fee for this service by James. Tyrone lived in poverty and began committing break and enters, stealing money for food. At 15 years old he was sent to a youth detention centre in Brisbane.

‘It was a relief, in a way, sort of. It was a relief to get away from them people, and I thought it was like a boys’ community thing, where I can sort of reflect on trying to get meself together, and me life.’

He soon realised, however, that the centre was a violent place, and he was subjected to physical and psychological abuse by staff. He ran away because of this, but was found and returned to the centre. He was then stripped naked and held down while an officer bashed him severely.

Tyrone was then told him that as a result of what had happened he would be sent to an adult prison. He entered this facility when he was around 17 years old. There were other young inmates from the juvenile centre there too, and they stuck together.

A month after he was admitted he was subjected to sexual abuse, including oral sex and masturbation, by another inmate who had a reputation as a sexual predator. ‘He was a threatening man, he’s been in there for like yonks – he’s known for abusing people. And everyone knew him. So he was a very intimidating man.’

Tyrone did not receive any support after his release from custody, and took a bus back to his family home. His mother was still drinking heavily, and he went to live with James again for a while.

Since then Tyrone has spent most of his adult life in prison, for crimes including sexual offences against women, and is currently serving a lengthy sentence. He is scheduled to participate in a sex offenders’ course, which he believes may help him ‘get out earlier’, and has done other courses already.

Tyrone has never had any counselling or support in regards to the sexual abuse he experienced, and his first full disclosure was to the Royal Commission. Before this, he had told his last partner about some of what happened, and discussed it during previous courses he has completed in custody.

It is hard to speak about the sexual abuse in this setting however. ‘Because you live in an environment where you’ve got to fend for yourself, and you can’t say nothing, ‘cause they consider you like a weak person and it’s hard to speak up.’ He tries to keep up a positive facade instead. ‘I put a brick wall up saying, well I’m happy. But I’m not ... I stay very active, and try to keep moving you know.’

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