10 May 2021

Abuse in care Royal Commission: 'We can never heal from it'

8:24 pm on 10 May 2021

Tyrone Marks first came to the attention of Social Welfare at the age of three. He was made a state ward at the age of nine and was in a number of boys' homes until 16.

Royal Commission Abuse in Care inquiry.

Photo: RNZ / Patrice Allen

He has told the inquiry violence from staff and among other boys was just the way it was.

Marks spent time in up to eight institutions.

To him, they all followed a common pattern of violence, both physical, psychological and at times sexual.

He said it became a normal thing.

"I have been in these places for years. It's nothing different. You have got power struggles and the same thing. I did see some really inappropriate behaviour by boys in terms of others making others doing sexual things that I was most disgusted by."

Marks said newcomers to the homes always received a welcome of sorts from the other boys.

"Well, it was usually just a number of other residents there coming into your room, usually at night time throwing a blanket over you and just into it you know. It happened to me, it happened to probably just about everybody that went through there."

Lawyer Sonja Cooper read a segment from a Social Welfare report written near the end of Marks' time as a state ward.

"With a bit of luck he will get himself into borstal before long where he can be catered for."

Marks said he had been lost in the system and in time did end up in borstal.

He remembered finally leaving care and turning up at his father's home.

"He asked me who I was and I said 'well, I think I am your son' and he goes 'oh, yeah, come in'.

"You know, I thought 'ah, yeah, here we go'. I just felt so ... my own father doesn't know me, so that gives you some idea how long I have been incarcerated in the system."

Marks said he would keep fighting for his brother and sister survivors and everybody else until he died.

"Some survivors will find healing in different ways and that's fine but the kind of things that happened to me and many others it's tattooed into us, You know, we can never heal from it - it's too late - but what we do need to do is move on in terms of life still does go on."

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