5 Dec 2016

State abuse victim: 'It crushed my soul'

5:00 pm on 5 December 2016

A victim of state abuse says the Prime Minister is disconnected with the reality of what happened in state care, and should apologise and announce an independent inquiry.

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Photo: 123RF

John Key told RNZ today the current compensation process was working and an independent inquiry would not achieve a lot.

State abuse victim Garth Cooper said Mr Key's comments this morning showed how disconnected he was from victims and what they had been through.

"The media coverage of this story gives me goosebumps, because it feels uplifting and as if I'm worthwhile, but listening to John Key let me right down - he doesn't want to know what weve been through."

Mr Cooper took a payout of $5000 because he knew he would not be able to afford to fight his case in court, he said.

"I had no other choice. The proposed payment came with the apology letter, but it didn't say sorry; it said something along the lines of, 'We regret what happened to you' - it's not good enough."

Living with his past had a huge bearing on his life today, Mr Cooper said.

"I'm not crying poor, but it has an impact on my interactions with people dramatically. I don't see myself as a part of society, I can't talk to men, I can't relate to them."

The government needed to understand the ongoing affects abuse had had on victims, he said.

"In Epuni Boys' Home I was smashed, bashed, raped, locked up, generally humiliated and tormented - we all were.

"It crushed my soul."

An independent inquiry was required, Mr Cooper said.

"We've got to open the cupboards and clean the shelves. Let's get honest here - it's about putting something out in the open: the guts of it, the truth of it."

Even a proper apology would go a long way for victims.

"If they have the guts and decency to get up and apologise I would feel acknowledged and special."

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