IT was one time, it lasted minutes and it damaged a nine-year-old forever.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will not change what happened to Glenroy man Geoff Steele a lifetime ago.
But in a private session before a commissioner in Melbourne tomorrow, Mr Steele, 66, will tell his story.
“I must tell this story, I must,” Mr Steele said, sitting on a couch in his neat unit.
He will be one of almost 3000 to tell their stories since former prime minister Julia Gillard announced a royal commission in November on how institutions handled allegations of child sexual abuse.
Mr Steele was nine when he said his mother took a job at the now defunct Melbourne Orphanage at Brighton after his adoptive parents split.
Mr Steele said he was separated from his mother on the first day the pair arrived; she was sent to live in the staff quarters and he lived with 50 other boys in a dormitory.
“I became an orphan for the second time in my life,” he said.
His mother suffered a nervous breakdown only three months later and he said the pair were further separated when she was taken to a mental institution.
“I was told that my mum ‘wasn’t well’ and ‘we’d be caring for you for a while’,” he said.
“I’m mentally and emotionally one of the boys now. I’m no longer special.”
His estranged father began to take him on weekend outings and it was on a late return from one of these outings that Mr Steele said the abuse occurred.
“I got a hiding and sent off to the laundry,” he said.
“The reason I was going to the laundry was to be sexually assaulted.”
It was only when Mr Steele was 59 that he began to question why his life had turned out the way it has.
He questioned why he could never go into public toilets, why he was over-protective of his son to the point their relationship broke down and why two marriages failed.
“It came back to me then,” he said.
Mr Steele has been seeking compensation, but more so, a recognition of what happened to him.
He has since found other victims through Care Leavers Network Australia, which connects people who grew up in orphanages, and gained an understanding of how prevalent sexual abuse was in institutions.
“We’ve got wrecked and damaged lives. It was our childhood and it was stolen,” he said.
Mr Steele moved to Albury in 2006, working as a cleaner and grounds keeper to support his pension, he’s re-connected with his birth family and son and gradually, his life stabilised.
Mr Steele said his son had one photo on his fridge and it was one of the pair with their arms around each other.
He leaned forward and leafed through commission paperwork on the coffee table in front of him.
“I want to have my say. I’ve been given that ability of fight inside me to help change the future for the better,” he said.
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