As a young man in New Zealand, I had always wanted for some reason to become a Police Officer with the Northern Territory Police in Australia. I did all the medical checks etc and interviews and was accepted. I was working as a Prison Officer at the time until the training course began. One evening while working in a prison I was set upon by several inmates and beaten with wooden legs from a table. I was dragged into a cell and told I was going to be killed..
Outside the cell I could hear screaming and things being broken. I was very scared and tried to formulate a plan for when the cell door was reopened.
Eventually the door opened and it was another prisoner who told me the 'bad guys' had escaped the prison. I was taken to the hospital and discharged and it took several weeks for the injuries to heal. I had trouble sleeping and relived the episode in my mind over and over.
I eventually headed to the Northern Territory and over the years felt that my back hurt from that life scar experience from time to time. The memories faded but whenever I worked in areas of cells with prisoners I was always on my guard, because of what had happened to me.
After a couple of decades I was in New Zealand and decided to see a specialist regarding my back pain. It was discovered that on the night of the incident the hospital had only xrayed my lumbar spine but in fact, my neck and thoracic spine had been broken.
I needed major surgery and was told that if I did not have the surgery I would end up in a wheelchair. That made me fill with anger at the men who had done this to my body and I became sure that the sentence they were given was not enough. The whole incident began replaying in my mind once more.
My operation was 15 hours in duration and it took me over a year to recuperate. I had a lot of time to reflect and decided I would return to the prison for the first time to see how I would feel. It had been converted to a backpackers hostel.
When I got there, a man was sitting having a smoke and told me he was an old inmate that had never been back since his incarceration. He was nervous to go in and so was I. We eventually went in together and I went to the area where I had been beaten and the cell I had been locked up in. There were tears and I felt a lot better.
I thought of the men who had maimed me and figured they would be in their late 50s and decided I would like to meet them. Not for revenge but just to tell them how their actions had such a huge impact on my life. I also was keen to see how they had progressed in their lives. There was no revengeful thoughts, only thoughts of letting it all go and putting the past behind me. A newspaper ran my story but none of the men came forward.
I have no anger at all toward these men. I feel the whole episode and my forgiveness has made me a much better person.
Garry's story for "Made By Scars- real men's stories" Book out 2017-8.
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