Boystown trauma

Michael Knight in one of the rooms at Cottage 7 which still stands at the old BoysTown property. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia
Michael Knight in one of the rooms at Cottage 7 which still stands at the old BoysTown property. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia

A FORMER BoysTown Beaudesert resident says the two years he spent at the controversial boys home in the 1980s had affected his ability to work and still gave him nightmares.

Michael Knight, who visited the site last month, lived at the Cryna Road property from 1985 to 1987.

He is featured in a video of his visit and retelling his story.

BoysTown Beaudesert housed disadvantaged boys in their early teens and was run by the De La Salle Brothers from 1961 until its closure in 2001.

A Catholic Church survey has revealed that BoysTown had the highest number of child sexual abuse claims made against a Catholic institution in the country.

Michael Knight walking through a building he remembers.

Michael Knight walking through a building he remembers.

The research details the extent of abuse as part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The survey found BoysTown had 219 claims against church members working at the home.

Mr Knight said his time at the home had a devastating impact on his life.

Memories of being sexually and physically assaulted still haunted him and had ultimately affected his ability to work and move on.

“No amount of money can ease what I’ve gone through. It’s always going to be in the back of my head,” he said.

“It was horrific. I still have nightmares.”

Mr Knight said he was sent to BoysTown because he was missing school and his mother was unable to care for him.

Instead of the education and guidance promised, Mr Knight said he was whipped with a belt, sexually assaulted, thrown in a cell and robbed of his privacy in shower cubicles which had no doors or curtains.

Michael knight recounts the time he was at BoysTown.

Michael knight recounts the time he was at BoysTown.

Mr Knight said abuse was a regular occurrence and he knew of other boys who also suffered but were too afraid to speak out.

“We were all ashamed and worried if we did there would be more consequences,” he said.

“Who would believe us? No one would believe us because this is BoysTown.

“This is why you’re sent here because you’re uncontrollable, you’re in trouble.”

Mr Knight said he was homeless, turned to drugs and had tried to commit suicide because he could not cope.

Despite the difficult times, the birth of his daughter led him to rehabilitate himself the best he could.

Ormeau resident Juanita Craig, who made the video with Mr Knight, said she had an overwhelming feeling of sadness for the boys.

“Walking through and hearing his story first hand gave a better understanding of what these boys had to go through and why some of them tried to run away,” she said.

 Ms Craig said she also felt anger towards the people who were responsible for the boys’ pain.

More than 1600 boys had passed through it over 40 years.

Anyone wishing to make a complaint of historical sex abuse, can report the matter to police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Lifeline 13 11 14, beyondblue 1300 224 636.

Michael Knight with Juanita Craig as she films a part of the video.

Michael Knight with Juanita Craig as she films a part of the video.