Domestic violence survivor Jim Morgan knows what it is like to live in constant fear.
He also knows the strength that can be found in unbreakable family bonds — and in the kindness of strangers who create new families for children in need.
After spending much of his early childhood ricocheting from one home to another, Mr Morgan, now 68, has collected documents from all the agencies that were involved in his early life and he has written his biography.
His earliest memory is of being removed from his mother Dulcie’s care and separated from his two brothers when he was just four years old.
- Jim Morgan was beaten by his mother’s boyfriend when he was returned from foster care
- Mr Morgan was adopted by a loving family but his older brother wasn’t so lucky
- He says women’s refuges need more support and children should have more say in decisions
But Mr Morgan’s most traumatic memories are from two years later, when he and his brothers, Trevor, then four, and Dennis, then eight, were reunited and returned to their childhood home in Nimmitabel, in southern New South Wales.
There, the young boys and their mother were terrorised by her boyfriend, who broke their bones, tortured them and burnt them with cigarettes when they cried.
“He bashed our mother. He bashed us. We were always scared and hungry,” Mr Morgan said.
After an especially brutal assault, which left Mr Morgan’s mother in hospital, the brothers were again removed from her care.
Mr Morgan and his younger brother, Trevor, were both placed with the same foster family in Lockhart, in the Riverina region. They were later legally adopted by that family.
But Dennis was sent to another home and lost contact with his brothers.
Mr Morgan said he and Trevor didn’t talk about what they had been through until they were both adults.
“I think it was because of the trauma of it,” Mr Morgan said.
The brothers only broached the subject almost 20 years later, when they decided to find Dennis and their mother.
“Dennis and I did stay in contact but unfortunately he died at the young age of 42,” Mr Morgan said.
“I kept in touch with my mother as well.”
More recognition needed for domestic violence
Mr Morgan said being the victim of domestic violence had ruined his mother’s life.
“Domestic violence destroys so many lives and I support as much government recognition as possible for women’s refuges and support.”
He said more importance should be given to the wishes of children when families were in crisis and the separation of siblings was being considered.
“It probably is changing a little bit but I do think too many decisions are made without asking the child.
“They say it’s for the child’s protection but I don’t know.”
Now, Mr Morgan is the proud father of three girls, who he admits he has always been very protective of.
“The family was broken all those years ago but really, I was able to start again with my own little family.”
And they will now be able to read his biography, Silhouette on a Distant Hill, to fill in the blanks of his disrupted childhood.