Wollongong man Steven Grainger has received an apology from the NSW Government for ‘’heinous and frequent’’ sexual, physical and emotional abuse he suffered as a child at three juvenile detention centres.
The Department of Family and Community Services acknowledged Mr Grainger suffered at the hands of ‘’staff and others’’ between 1967 and 1972. In a letter dated March 17, Deputy Secretary Deidre Mulkerin described Mr Grainger’s abuse as ‘’reprehensible’’.
‘’I remember every rape, every face, every ounce of pain and every humiliating episode.''
‘’The people who abused you, and the people who did not act to protect you from the abuse, breached your trust in them,’’ she said.
‘’I am also greatly saddened to hear about the suffering you endure in these institutions and the consequences of that abuse for your adult life. I deeply regret that as a child and a young person you did not experience the care and protecting to which you were unquestionably entitled.’’
Mr Grainger, now 58, spent his childhood in more than a dozen different NSW custodial institutions. He was physically abused, humiliated, punished and raped at Mittagong Training School for Boys, Daruk Boys’ Training School and Tamworth’s Institution for Boys.
At the age of eight Mr Grainger had fled his Villawood home after his father was sent to jail. One time he went ‘’up the street’’ to a neighbour’s place, another time he ended up in Dubbo.
By age nine police had classified Mr Grainger as “uncontrollable” and he was taken into custody.
At the holding shelter a senior police officer took him to a room, told him to strip off, then the officer joined him in the shower. ‘’I remember him commenting on how smooth my skin was. I wanted to run away. But he held me. I was terrified. And then he raped me.’’
The next day, Mr Grainger was taken to the court house and remembers the magistrate asking him why he ran away from home. He was unable to speak due to shock. He was made a ward of the state.
‘’I lived in fear every day of my life and can’t forget what happened to me,’’ he told the Mercury this week. ‘’I remember every rape, every face, every ounce of pain and every humiliating episode.
‘’I’ve spent more than 80 per cent of my life in custody. I don’t trust anyone and I can’t help but blame the government who made me a ward of the state … and didn’t protect me from the animals who abused me.’’
Mr Grainger repeatedly escaped from the institutions, tried to tell his story, but no one would listen. When he was 17, he was sentenced to Parramatta jail where he met his father again.
After suffering through years of drug addiction and developing bipolar disorder, Mr Grainger is trying to turn his life around.
Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.
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