‘Our parents let us down badly. They could have done a lot more. Especially my old man, he left everything on my mother’s shoulders as he was too busy drinking to take any responsibility. So, me and my sisters and my other brother, we were all put in Seaforth Institution for safe keeping, but they separated all sending us to different foster homes. I was 5 years old, and I was charged with my own neglect. How could I be to blame?
They told me my parents didn’t want me which had a big effect on my self-esteem. I saw on my files and apparently I was fostered out much more, but I only remember one. The abuse there was physical, I got caned for wetting the bed, but what happened to Glandore Institution, , was sexual. I was just 7 when an older boy forced me to do oral sex to him, I was pushed back against the wall of the toilet and I couldn’t breathe. I did go and tell, but because I didn’t understand, I said “a boy urinated in my mouth”. They didn’t want to listen and I got angry when they would say “You’ll get over it” or “Oh, you’re lying”. I find that extremely difficult to believe that they did not know what was going on. A lot more things happened, too many. There were at other institutions and foster homes, many more of these too.
I basically, I would just shut down. I wouldn’t speak, I didn’t trust adults at all, and I didn’t want to associate with anyone. I just rebelled against all authority and ended up in Windana Remand home, with more abuse happening. At 16, I was on the streets and taking drugs and drinking. In my twenties, I started drifting all over Australia, got into trouble, went to jail and drifted again. I have managed to be able to let go of my demons from the past, the anger, the hate which was my dominant emotion when I was growing up. I have managed to make peace with myself, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. What changed everything was when I was in a car crash, I woke up in ICU with many broken bones and organ damage. That was also a blessing in disguise as well. It was the first time feel like I was treated like a human. The doctors found me public housing, so I had somewhere to go. I changed stopped drinking and taking drugs, and that was now 15 years ago.
I’m a survivor and I don’t give up and never will. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here now. All I can say is, don’t give in and always believe in yourself. And if you have something to say, don’t be afraid to say it. Everyone is important, regardless of who they are. Everyone has a right to freedom regardless of who they are and where they come from. The most important thing to me is my freedom’.
-JIM, SA, 2019
Deeply private man, I feel very honored that he spoke with me. His image is a 3D holographic lenticular. As the viewer moves from left to right, Jim’s eyes open and close and then he smiles warmly.