Warning: This post discusses sexual assault and may cause distress for some readers.
Simon* went to boarding school when he was in Year 3.
There wasn't really another option. He was part of a travelling community and his parents moved from job to job around Australia.
Education on the road 35 years ago wasn't that crash hot. But Simon was smart. He could read adult books as a child, and was described by his mum as kind and beautiful.
So off to big school he went. A tiny boy on a daunting big-boy adventure.
In Year 5 his grandfather died, and to his family this was the event that changed him. They wouldn't find out the truth about that year, and the years that followed, for another 20 years.
Sidenote: Abuse can be invisible for so many reasons. Post continues after podcast.
By the age of 14 he was drinking heavily.
By the age of 16 he'd been expelled from school.
At the age of 19 his father found him with a needle in his arm.
"My family watched this traumatic life unfold. My mother had so many breakdowns. My parents fought. And my sister and I stood on the sidelines helpless, wondering why this was happening to our brother and our family," Simon's sister Sarah* told Mamamia.
Simon went to rehab. But it didn't work, and within weeks he was spiralling once again.
His mother would roam the streets at 3am trying to bring him home.Whose house is he at? What corner was he scoring from today?
Over the course of a decade he'd attend another four rehabs.
"We would visit him and every time we'd think 'this time it'll bring our beautiful Simon back. This time all the conflict will be over. This time my mother can finally enjoy a day without worrying about losing her son'," said Sarah.
"We didn't want to disown him, we wanted to fix him somehow. We'd ask ourselves 'how'. How can such a smart well-mannered, caring boy from a middle class family end up here?"
At rehab number five they finally got answers. Simon was ready to talk about the sexual abuse.
For an entire two years, from the age of ten, Simon had been subjected to horrific acts of child molestation. He told his family the perpetrators were two older boys.