Men and domestic violence: interview G (pt.1)

 
Recorded at Nairne (Mt Barker), SA, 2 Apr 95

This interview is in two parts - you can also move directly to Part 2.



Background: G. is a single father in his late thirties, with three young daughters aged between six and ten. He is currently living on a single-parent's pension. His marriage had ended some five years previously. He is a very quiet, reflective man who has worked as a machine operator and farm labourer.

The discussion was recorded in a fairly quiet environment, with only occasional interruptions from the children and others, but not all text could be identified on the tape. Punctuation symbols such as commas, dashes and '...' marks are used to indicate pauses as well as grammatical flow. Missing sections are shown by '//..//'; where the comment could be guessed at, it is similarly enclosed in '// //' marks; comments about context, or relevant actions, are shown in '[ ]' braces.



T: There's no particular number that I'm doing. All I'm doing is - I know it's disturbing to have a tape-recorder going, but just forget about it...

G: Just forget about it.

T: What B. was saying was that you'd very much followed the feminist line about "all men are bastards", that there was something structurally wrong with you [as a man], and then the shit hit the fan; and that you're a father of three daughters, a single father with three daughters.

G: Yeah, that's right.

T: Well, what's coming up about that?

G: Well...

T: I'm avoiding names again, by the way - particularly if you've actually been involved in violence, I want to avoid any names.

G: Yeah. Yeah... I... when my marriage sort of went bust... I mean, how far back do you want me to go?

T: Anywhere you like.

G: Yeah. Well, I was married for seven years, and I was the type of guy that never went to the pub, and never... well, didn't really drink much, if I had a drink it was always at home, and I spent a lot of time with my kids and a lot of time with my wife. And I heard all these stories about the wife playing around and stuff like that, and I pushed it out of my mind, I didn't believe any of it anyway, took her word for it or something, and... um... You know, a lot of people kept saying that I was, er... like a, or the, perfect husband. And, er, now and then she'd wanted to go and visit her mother at.. like, we were living at Lee Creek and her mother lived at Whyalla, so, I'd say, "yeah, okay, no worries, go and visit your mum for, like, a holiday for a fortnight"...

T: And you're looking after the children - you've got three children?

G: No, she actually took the kids with her each time. And the kids... or - not the kids - then when it came to the end of the holiday period she wouldn't come back home. This went on a couple of times - one time she was away for about six months - and eventually I got her to come back, but it was always me chasing after her and bringing her back home and she'd make arrangements for all the furniture and everything to be moved out of the house...

T: So she was wanting to move out.

G: Yeah, she was always wanting to move out. And then eventually, after it happened four times, I said "well, what's actually the problem?", because we weren't fighting or anything, we weren't having an argument - well, everybody has their little disagreements - but, um... she eventually... like, I heard stories that she'd had her ex-boyfriend and stuff like that, but I never believed any of those... and eventually I said to her, "look, what on earth is the problem?". And she said, "oh, it's Lee Creek". I said, "well, we'll leave Lee Creek" So we packed up and we left Lee Creek and we went down to Murray Bridge, or down onto a farm actually, she wanted to be a farmer's, farmer's wife, if I could handle the farm - my dad owned a farm - so I went down and I was working on the farm for a while. And we were down there for about eighteen months, and then she... in fact in the first twelve months she went off to her mother's again for a holiday, for two weeks' holiday, and eventually when it came time to come back she said "well, the buses are all running full, and I can't get back". So I said "right, I'll come up and get you". So I went up and brought her home. And, er... a few more months passed - well, about the eighteen months - and she says... well, I mean, I was getting hassled all the time...

T: Hassled?

G: Yeah, hassled: "I don't like living out on the farm", you know?

T: So she's asked you to move out to a farm, because she wanted to be a farmer's wife...

G: She wanted to be a farmer's wife, but then when she was there she decided that she didn't want to be. So then I said, "well, right, what do you want to do". I said "I've had enough of moving, I've had enough of trying to make you happy, and..."

T: This is you saying this?

G: This is me saying this. And she said, "well, I don't like it here either. I want to go back to Whyalla, and go back to live at Whyalla with my mother - or live in the same town as my mother". So, okay, we've packed up, sold whatever we had and we moved off up to Whyalla. And I was probably there nine months, I'd start work - I'd started work about three months after I got there.

T: What kind of work?

G: I was working as a machine operator. And, um... we were getting along okay. But all the money that I'd had from the farm, I spent on new carpets, furniture, bits of furniture and stuff, had a reasonably good table and chairs and, you know, everything was pretty good sort of furniture. And she wanted to replace everything... you know, there was no need to. So all right, well, I replaced a few things; and then we run out of money, and she wanted a brand-new table and chairs which were going to cost eight hundred dollars, and I didn't have the money in the bank, my job wasn't secure enough to go and borrow money from the bank, so I said no. And what I'd actually done was drawn a line and said, "look, we've crossed the line, I'm not buying any more". And she said, "well, you go away for twelve months and I'll go on the pension and I'll buy all the furniture that we want". So...

T: So in other words she was going to be using the system...

G: She was going to be using the system.

T: ...by saying that she was a single parent and therefore had no support and that she would require the furniture?

G: Yeah. And what she did, she raced into the, um... er... I... actually, I found out that two years... when she had... when she had left to go to her mother's the time when we were living at Lee Creek, I found out from her sister that the wedding rings and all that she had, she'd sold. And, er... so I actually asked whether the wedding rings were the ones that she had in her purse, and she said, "yeah, they are", and I said "but your sister has just told me that they're not, can I have a look at them?". And she went off, off her bloody... off the deep end, and told me I might as well go and sleep with her sister if I was going to believe her, and stuff like that, if I'm going to believe her. And it finished up that the wedding rings - well, the rings that she had in her purse - weren't the ones I'd... supplied her... with, they were only twenty-dollar Avon-type ear-rings, I mean rings... and, er... anyway, she really went hysterical, and I've always said that if I start hitting her, that, you know, I'm better off if, or she's better off if I just leave and all that sort of stuff. And I did hit her... and, um... because of the reason she was going off the deep end, and was telling all these lies...

T: You said she was 'going off the deep end': what was she doing at this time? When you hit her, what was she talking about?

G: Full-on abuse, and yelling and screaming and... er... that's it, yelling and screaming, abuse, telling me I may as well sleep with her sister, I may as well have been sleeping with her sister, and, er... all I wanted to know was whether the wedding rings were, were the ones I'd supplied her or not. And... I mean, in this, the whole time...

T: So you said you hit her: so what exactly did you do?

G: I give her a smack on the face.

T: Just once, or...

G: Just once, just once. And it wasn't really anything extravagant, you know, it was just a slap on the face. And... just to get her out of this hysterical... situation she was in.

T: So she was absolutely... from what you were saying, she was absolutely hysterical?

G: Yeah! Yeah. Because what had happened was the fact that she'd been lying all the time, and I'd been thinking that this set of rings in her purse was in her purse and not on her finger because of the fact that it needed adjusting, it needed to be resized. But the fact was that it was the wrong one. And because she was lying an' all, and I'd found out the truth, she went off the deep end, yelling and abusing.

T: So you didn't sort of go in and wade in and punch her?

G: Oh no, no. It wasn't... there was definitely no punch.

T: Right. So you've been in the situation where you've slapped her. What's happening now?

G: And then everything cooled down for a while, and about a fortnight after we had a little bit of a disagreement, um... for a long time I was in sort of situations where I couldn't sleep at night, but if I laid on the floor I could go to sleep. So eventually, or a couple of weeks after, she said, "well, you...", you know, "I want you to move out" - and this is where the table and chairs come into it. She actually asked me whether I'd buy these table and chairs, and I said, "no, we haven't got the money, the table and chairs that we've got is really good", and she says "well, I want you to move out, so's that I can go on the pension, and I'll buy the stuff that I want. You move out for twelve months, and then I'll... then you can come back". So I was a little bit cheesed off, and I agreed, "yeah, all right, I've had enough of being in and out of this marriage", so I moved out. And I always believed that women... the man's never going to get custody of the children, no matter what he does, and, um... so I just left - her and her brother helped me move out, there was absolutely no fighting and arguing with her at the time. And I found out that she'd gone into the welfare office and spun a big story that I'd left, cleared out and taken all the money with [me] and all that sort of stuff, and she had no food or no nothing for the kids and... what happened, before I left, I'd actually done all the shopping and that, there was no fighting, no arguing, it was just a matter of her saying "G., I want you to move out so that I can get this table and chairs" and I moved. And, er... then I'd actually met up, I mean, I knew this friend, a female friend, once we sort of split, I sort of got friendly with this lady, and, er... A. [his wife] thought we were carrying on for a while, but we weren't. And, er... anyway, I went around to her place and, er, just to talk, someone to talk to, you know? And, um, A. had turned up and said "G., I want you to move back" - this was the week after - and I said "no, look, I've had enough of being in the marriage and out of the marriage again and ticking off all the time and... there's no stop", I said, "I've tried and tried and tried to make this marriage go and..." - I mean, we could have split up four years before, and there was no... I said, "it's ended, and that's it". And, er...

T: So this is a week later - a week after you moved out.

G: The week after.

T: So she's been to Social Security, she's spun a story, she's got...

G: Yeah, she got a hand-out over the counter, got onto the pension... it also put me in the red as far as maintenance and that was concerned because where I knew that I'd separated on the first day of December [six years earlier], she'd actually said to the welfare, to Social Security and to the Child Support Agency and all, that I'd actually moved out a fortnight before I did. So therefore my maintenance was backdated a fortnight before I moved out. And said, well, "I'm not going to be railroaded into paying anything extra than what I had to", so all my maintenance was all backdated, to sort of... and... she... where the hell was I?

T: The maintenance, you were saying the maintenance...

G: Oh, yeah, the maintenance was all backdated to a fortnight before I'd actually left, so I kicked up and said, no, I'm not paying that much, and, er...

T: Well, that just sounds like, from their perspective, given that they're saying that the woman has been... that the story that they've been told is that the woman's been abandoned, and you're kicking up a fuss about not paying anything...

G: Yeah, and I'd done what I could, paid for the fortnight's bloody... er... groceries, paid an extra advance rent...

T: So in fact you've been trapped into doing a highly illegal act. You de... I mean she is actively defrauding the state...

G: Yeah...

T: ...and you've ended up an accessory to it.

G: ...and she still is. She still is.

T: Have you told anyone in Welfare that this is what she's done?

G: Not in Welfare, I've told, um... Actually, yeah, I did, I told, er, the Child Support Agency and I think they've now adjusted it, but I'm not sure. But I've, I'm at the moment working on a court case to take her back to court - this happened five years ago - and it's been, um.... I've tried getting, while I was unemployed, when left Whyalla, I tried getting the, er, Child Support Agency, or getting a lawyer to stop me having to pay maintenance while I was unemployed. But there was nothing, I mean they handled it for twelve months and got absolutely nowhere.

T: So even while you're unemployed, you're still having to pay a lot of maintenance? Because there's three children involved, aren't there?

G: Yeah, there was three children involved, and my lawyer told me, "don't pay the maintenance", so I wasn't paying the maintenance while I was unemployed.

T: But then of course your children don't get what they need.

G: She was still on, ah... she was still on the pension. The kids were... yeah, probably weren't getting what they need, but I don't get maintenance at the moment, [even though] I've got custody of the children.

T: You've got custody of the children?

G: Yeah, I've got custody of the kids. I've had it now for three years.

T: And you don't get any maintenance from her?

G: I don't get any maintenance from her.

T: Is she working?

G: No. She doesn't. She's lived... she's actually...

T: Has she ever worked?

G: No. I don't think she has ever worked. She, she... we went to counselling once...

T: Sorry, I mean 'in paid employment', for 'working'...

G: Yeah. She... we went to counselling, approximately two years ago, and, er... the counselling officer said to her, why don't she... oh, she was complaining about how she was feeling that her life was a waste of time an' all, and the counsellor said "why don't you try and do a course at TAFE and possibly get a job?" She said "no way am I going to do that, because that means I'll have to get a job and then I'll have to pay maintenance".

T: So she's actually explicitly avoiding getting a job in order to avoid paying maintenance...

G: Ah, yeah.

T: ...whereas when you were unemployed, you had no choice, you were paying maintenance anyway.

G: That's right. I've still got to take the Child Support Agency to court to get previous, um, maintenance orders changed to get the whole lot of my maintenance sorted out.

T: So are you still paying maintenance to her?

G: I'm not paying maintenance to her. I've got to... I had another relationship before I got married, and there was a son involved, and while I was married, while I was working an' all, I was paying maintenance to him, and... - for him. And, er... the ex kicked up and said, "while you're unemployed, you shouldn't be paying maintenance". So I went to court, or applied for a court order, saying that I didn't have to pay maintenance while I was unemployed. And when I split up from my wife, I thought that I didn't have to pay maintenance, automatically, while I was unemployed. And, um... so when I was unemployed I didn't pay it, and I talked to the lawyers and they told me "don't pay it - and it'll go through court eventually and you won't have to pay it anyway - while you're unemployed". But, um... I'm still going through the hassles with the courts at the moment with the Child Support Agency because they're saying that I still owe them two thousand dollars for maintenance, which came from because she said that I left, and...

T: But she said that you left, rather, that you abandoned her.

G: Yeah. She made it sound as if I'd just up and flew the coop, just up and left.

T: Just abandoned her left her with no money.

G: Left her with the kids, left her with no money, left them with nothing. But I made sure that... I mean, she kept all the furniture, she kept everything...

T: But, I mean, she's asking for money for furniture from the state. So what happened to the [existing] furniture in the meantime?

G: She'd sold it all. She bought all this new furniture, and then six months, I think... See, in that week, that, after I'd left, she'd then jumped into the car, into my car...

T: So you'd left without the car?

G: Yes, she kept the car.

T: And you'd bought the house anyway?

G: No, we were living in a Housing Trust [house]. And, er... I mean I was so... look, I was really destroyed, because, I was the one that wanted kids, I always wanted to have a family, settle down, be happy for the rest of my life, and... I mean, I'd been through, er, marriage... - or not marriage split-ups, but my parents were separated when I was only young, and I knew the hassles that my kids were gonna go through. So when I left I wanted everything to be easier on the kids, you know? And, er... the kids, to me, were my life, you know? And when I went for the kids I broke down and cried, I tried my best to hold it all in, and I was giving them a kiss goodbye and all that... [pause] But I couldn't hold it in any longer, and I just howled my eyes out. And, er... anyway, before I'd decided that I was a'leaving... um... like, leaving Whyalla... about a week after - or a couple of days after, when A. realised I wasn't going to come back home, she then jumped in my car and come down to Murray Bridge to pick up my brother, and took him up - he was only nineteen, twenty, something like that, he was only young, anyway - and, er, at this time she was about twenty-eight. She'd come down to...

T: I'm sorry, it's a bit noisy here. You said she was about twenty-eight.

G: She was around twenty-eight.

T: You were how old then?

G: At that stage I think thirty-two. And she come down to Murray Bridge, picked up my brother, my half-brother, took him back up to Whyalla to belt the living daylights out of me and get me to move back home. And I said no, I wasn't, you don't know the hassles...

T: So she went to get your brother, to beat you up, to get you to come back, having told you to leave?

G: Yes.

T: Okay.

G: So... I said to my brother, "I'm not moving back", I said "I've had enough of moving in and out of this relationship, and I've..."

T: The reason you moved out, were moved out, is because she wanted effectively to defraud Social Security to get the table?

G: Yeah. Every time, every time that she left Whyalla, she had said, um... to the welfare that I was beating her up, but I wasn't.

T: So you acknowledge one instance of violence, that you slapped her when she was totally hysterical.

G: Yup. There was only one other time that I hit her, and that was after she'd jammed my arm in the window of the car, and I'd been in there - my arm was turning blue because it was squashed in the window - and I was begging her, and I was about... I was getting really stirred up - this was just after we got married, actually - and she was showing off to her brother and her sister, yeah, just being smart, and she wound the window up on my, on my arm, you see, and I said to her - I asked her nicely an' all that to move it, to let my arm out of the window, and I couldn't, I reached down to undo it myself but I couldn't reach the handle. And then I tried smashing the window to get my arm out, because it was literally hurting. And, er, she was laughing and carrying on and on, getting stirred up and more stirred up, and eventually she did let my arm out, and the first thing I did was went like that [demonstrates - back-handed sideways swipe of the arm] - it was just a reaction. And then, I, I, I apologised...

T: So it was a flat-handed...

G: Yeah. But it was the back of my hand.

T: The same hand that's just been injured?

G: Yeah, As soon as it was released... It was just - like that [demonstrates reflex response]. Never hurt her or anything, but she, she got a bit upset, and walked home - we were at a speedway up at Lee Creek and, er... her and her sister walked off and they walked home, it was about five k's home. And, er...

T: So she's trapped your hand, done you quite a bit of injury, and now you are the abuser because of this incident.

G: And I was the abuser because I, ah, ...

T: Responded...?

G: Responded physically.

T: ...to her both injuring you and laughing at you, and mocking you in front of her family.

G: Yeah, for sure. Making me feel like an absolute bloody idiot.

T: And you are the abuser because you've hit her. Okay.

G: That's right. Yeah. And, er... yeah, that was the only other time that I've ever hit her. And... because I've... I mean, I really loved this woman, y'know? And eventually, after four years of hassles, I started convincing myself that it was a waste of time trying to sort it, you know, trying to help her, trying to do the right thing for her, and do the right thing for the family. And I'd heard on the radio heaps and heaps of times that if there's hassles and the two aren't getting along together - and this was after the ring episode - that the family is better off being separated. And that was coming over the radio - it just seemed like there was a message in the air all the time to get the hell out of it, don't worry about it.

T: And that the best thing that you can do for your kids is not be there.

G: That the best thing that I could do for my kids was not to be there. And, then...

T: How did that feel to you? What did you feel about that, choosing to shut yourself off from your kids, in the belief that that was the best thing for them? What was your feeling?

G: I was really... um... really, really pissed off. I was... I was really destroyed. I mean, I'd got on my motorbike, and I was going to ride around Australia and just lose myself somewhere, I didn't where... and I finished up coming down... I was going to say goodbye to all my parents and stuff like that...

T: So you were literally just going to write yourself out of history?

G: I was just going to write myself out. And, er... I sort of... [pause] yeah, I got down to Murray Bridge...

T: comment possibly asking about risk of suicide

G: No! [wry laugh] No. But I got down to Murray Bridge eventually and decided, well, it's either keep going or stay there. And at the time I sort of started waking up to it, well, how are my kids gonna feel, y'know? So then I started... um... sorting myself out a bit, and, er... eventually got a job, and talked to my parents and sort of calmed me down a bit. I wasn't really...

T: How long did it take you to calm down in this sense? You said it was about three months you were unemployed.

G: I wasn't really... Yeah, it would have been about three months I was unemployed before I got the job up at Whyalla, that was before. It would have been six months or so?

T: So it put you out of action effectively for six months.

G: Yeah. Yeah, when I left Whyalla, I never actually... see, this is why I'm going through the hassles with the courts at the moment, the Child Support Agency, because when I left Whyalla I wanted to get a job, right? I also wanted to lose myself, and, you know, I wanted to get out of it? Go and get a job somewhere and settle down and trying to start over again and trying to sort everything out.

T: Because this had happened to you once before already, you were saying.

G: Yeah... look... that was... look, that situation was a lot worse than what this situation was. I mean, my son was a... act of "I'll get pregnant and then he'll marry me"...

T: Right.

G: Right. That's a complete and utter different story, that relationship was one that made me decide that I was not going to hit a woman any more.

T: So you had beaten her?

G: I had hit her. I had hit that woman.

T: But you'd been trapped into that relationship...

G: I was trapped into that relationship... the woman that I was [with] in that relationship was eleven years older than I was, she'd had five kids... I was, er, only nineteen, I think - eighteen, nineteen - and my parents... my mother had actually pushed me into that relationship, because she asked me, told me I'd gotta leave home, and, er, this woman needed somebody to move in, she had... in order to pay rent. And anyway, I moved in with this woman, and things sort of got a bit heavy, and eventually I decided it wasn't what I wanted - you know, I didn't want the relationship, and, er, she had five kids, and I said, "look, I want out". And she said, "you leave me, and I'm going to kill the kids". And... ah, wow, I didn't know what she was like.

T: So she threatened to kill her own children, and you would be responsible for their death.

G: Yeah, she threatened she was going to kill her own, and I would be responsible for their death. And apparently, I found out afterwards she had held knives to welfare officers throats, threatened welfare officers and god knows what-not. So, eventually I decided, well, right, I'm going to leave. And the best way to do that was to get the heck out of that town - this is down in Narragul, well before I got married. And I decided, well, right, I could get a job at Lee Creek, and then I'd just go.

T: So this is coming back to where we were a minute ago.

G: Yeah, it's coming back to where...

T: So this is... The second relationship, to the woman with three children, is at Lee Creek. I'm getting a bit lost as to which relationship...

G: No. No, this is still the relationship before I got married, right? I met my wife when I was at Lee Creek. Er... when I actually found out I'd got the job at Lee Creek I went and bought a caravan, because I had to live in a caravan up there, I then decided, right, I'm going up to live there by myself, and then at the last minute she'd decided, "right, well, I'm coming too". So anyway she jumps in the car and... eventually I left with her and all my gear and, er, we went off and lived up at Lee Creek in a caravan.

T: With five kids?

G: No, she'd lost all her kids through the welfare.

T: Right, so the welfare had taken the kids off her?

G: Yup. Yeah, all five of 'em. And, er... but even though she'd lost them, she'd threatened me she was still going, she'd still kill them. And anyway, up at Lee Creek, things weren't going too good, so I'd moved her back, taken her back... there'd been a few other bits and pieces where we'd, er, gone down to Narragul and, er, I'd dropped her off, because she wanted to stay down there at this stage, because she, um... I'd dropped her off and went back, she jumped into her car - she had a car of her own then - and drove back up to Lee Creek, and then we came down here after having a few hassles up there as well, and I'm still trying to get rid of her, and she... she gets in her... No, I took her down there, because she didn't want to come back, and, er, eventually she... When I'd left, she changed her mind and said "I'm coming back with you", so as I was leaving she jumped back into the car, so I drove out the road, and she said "Take me back home!" when we were about twenty k's out, and, er...

T: So you've had a lot of things with women being indecisive.

G: Oh, yeah. So at one stage I turned around in the car to take her back, and I don't know why I did it, but I leant over and opened the door - her door? And she rolled out of the car? And she was laying out in the road yelling and screaming that I'd run over her leg, and I thought, "shit, now I've really bloody gone and done it.." So I went back, and I hadn't run over her leg... Anyway, I packed her back in the car, took her home, dragged her out of the car, dropped her bags off at her house - I mean, didn't hurt her or anything - and, er, jumped in my car, and I took off, headed back to Lee Creek without her. Guess something seemed bloody strange, anyway, got back to Lee Creek, and bugger me dead, she was on the front door. She'd beat me home! And I'd gone back to Lee Creek, straight back to Lee Creek from Narragul, and she'd beaten me home! What she did, she hired a taxi to take her back to Lee Creek.

T: And were you ending up paying for the taxi?

G: No, I didn't pay for the taxi. No, she paid. But, um... yeah, eventually the only way I could get rid of her was... oh yes, in all this process, she got pregnant - she was supposed to have been on the pill, but she got pregnant, and she was working on that if she got pregnant, that would then want her. And, er, it wasn't to be - I mean, she was too goddamn old for me in any case, and, er... you know...

T: And you're nineteen? twenty? at this time...

G: I was around nineteen, twenty at this time. And, er, in fact, at this stage I was being... when I went to Lee Creek I was twenty-one. Yeah... and at this stage I was almost twenty-two.

T: So she's thirty-four.

G: Yeah. No, she was eleven years older than me, so she was thirty-three. So... yeah... she'd beaten me back there. In the process she'd actually got pregnant //comment about her taking the pill?// and I was thinking to myself she was on it all of the time. And, er, but she'd actually gone off [it].

T: Did she tell you she'd gone off the pill? Or did she tell you she was still on the pill?

G: Yeah, she told me she was still on the pill, and I'd see her taking it every now and then, but she wasn't. And she got... she was pregnant, and... I mean, I felt a lot for the child, and cared a lot for the child, and eventually I grabbed hold of the child and put him in my car, and I supplied all bottles and feed and, er, clothing - she was still breast-feeding the baby, because she said that if ever things didn't work out right, there'd be no way Welfare would take the kid away from her...

T: She'd already lost five kids to Welfare?

G: She'd already lost five kids to Welfare, and, er, with her breastfeeding the baby, that guaranteed her getting the kid back. And anyway, I took the kid down to Narragul, started a court proceeding to get custody of him, and eventually, well, she turned up there with lawyers or with somebody - I'm pretty sure it was lawyers - and in fact it might have been detectives - and they ordered me to give the kid back. So... which, to save a lot of, er, getting angry and, er...

T: How old was the kid at this time?

G: One year old.

T: Okay, so that slowly brings us forward to where you are now, where you've just left Whyalla... what I mean by 'now' is, what, three years ago? Five years ago?

G: Five years ago.

T: Okay, you've come out of Whyalla...

G: I've come out of Whyalla...

T: Just lost your whole family again...

G: Yeah, I've lost my whole family again... I knew my kids felt a hell of a lot for me, and... a lot of people said to me, "well, how come you've left the kids behind?" And I said, "there's no way in the world would I get custody of the kids", I tried getting custody of my son and I lost it, and... - because I was working and all that sort of stuff -

T: So you lost custody because you were working?

G: Because I was working. I was working at Lee Creek, and... they said, "if you're working, how are you going to get custody, how are you going to look after the kids?" And then I thought, well, yeah, how am I going to do it", y'know. I'm working... if I leave my job, I'm out of Lee Creek - Lee Creek was a government town, run by ETSA - so everything sort of went against me having the kids, having my son...

T: So you're now back in the same situation [at this stage, after leaving his family at Whyalla]...

G: So I was back in the same situation. And, er... when I come down to Murray Bridge, a few months later, I went back up to Whyalla and, er... I went up... this lady friend that I'd met after I left, she was being hassled all the time by my ex...

T: So she was being hassled all the time by your ex?

G: She was being hassled by my ex. So, I thought, I'll bring her down here, and - if she wants to come down - I'd find her a flat an' all, and she could move down here. And...

T: And 'she' being... was this the girlfriend or your ex-wife?

G: The girlfriend. And she moved down here. I mean, I didn't really... I didn't really want a girlfriend because I'd had too many hassles with wife. In fact now I can't really...

T: So what you're really looking for from the woman is someone to talk with, from what you were saying? You originally went round to see her, didn't you, so it would be someone to actually listen, to hear what's going on for you, and it gets tangled into a sexual relationship?

G: Yeah, right. That's right.

T: Right. So it's almost like - and this is my interpretation, I'm not sure if it's wrong, but it's like sexuality is the only way of getting intimacy, the only way you're permitted to get close to someone to get that kind of support, has been a sexual environment.

G: You see, she was... this friend of mine was single as well, and she'd had a marriage split-up herself, and, er, she seemed to be a lot different to anybody, you know, you could talk to her a lot better, and... and... she sorta knew what I was going through and stuff like that...

T: Yeah, so she'd had first-hand experience of the same stuff.

G: ...and I sort of needed somebody to relate to, and she needed somebody to relate to as well, and we just sort of matted in together, y'know?

T: Rather than 'being in love and desperately needing each other' and so on? Much more a sense of...

G: Yeah, that's right. We had a sort of agreement going that it wasn't a permanent relationship and stuff like that. And when I moved - my ex was hassling her and she was getting a bit upset, so I thought, "oh well, what'll I do?", so I suggested I find a flat down here for her, and she could move down here, and get her away from it. And so she decided, "well, yeah, that sounds good", and she moved down to Murray Bridge, and we were going to try and make a relationship, but for the feelings of getting back into a marriage again and... it didn't really appeal to me.

T: Strange, that! [wry laugh] I mean, you'd been messed around very badly.

G: I've been messed around heaps. I mean...

[end of first side of tape]

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