My name is Carlos and I’m 36 years old. I’ve spent most of my life in and out of boys homes, juvenile detention centres and adult jails. I came from a very dysfunctional family, my mother was addicted to heroin and used methadone, pills and anything else she could get hold of. She died when I was 8 years old which really tore my heart out. My father was a violent stand over man, armed robber, drug dealer as well as other things. He spent much of his life in and out of prison and I’m not sure if he’s even alive anymore because I haven’t had contact with him since I was 16. He told me that he had contracted HIV from the girl that he was living with. I was angry with him because I knew that he was going to die and yet he still wouldn’t let me get to know him. I was a Ward of the State (DoCS child) and was put into government care from 4 years old so never knew him as a kid.
I was given to foster parents at 4 years old until I was 10 when they couldn’t handle me anymore. My mum was dying and I had little contact with my dad. My grandparents were also alcoholics and I was physically and sexually abused all the time that I was in the boys homes. I have attempted suicide three times.
I met a lady who was a friend of my auntie when I was 12 who took me to church. I was confused at how loving these people were and I gave my heart to Jesus Christ. Since I was 12, she has always been there for me even when I was a horrible person and it was that love that has kept me going. I’ve tried my hardest to break the vicious cycle of drug addiction and institutionalisation but loneliness and not having people who care about me has meant that I kept messing up. Since I was 18, I’ve had less than 4 years out of jail or rehab.
I’ve known Phil from Five8 for about three years. He has helped me when I came out of jail, he helped me get clean in a rehab and helped my with mentoring but when the rehab told me that I had to leave because I was institutionalised, I had nowhere to go, they didn’t help me get settled, I cut myself off and I ended up back in prison. Phil and a few volunteers visit me in prison and help me to understand who I am, that I have value and help me to process my emotions properly and make better decisions. When I get out in 14 months, I know that they will be there for me and will help me with accommodation and work and to start with a firmer foundation. I hope that this time, I will be able to make it work. Thanks for reading my testimony.