GLEN Tibbitts spent years of his younger life without a home. His journey has been tough, but he’s managed to survive to make something of his life against overwhelming odds.
Glen, who runs his own security firm, was courageous enough to tell his story for the first time publicly at the Vinnies Homelessness Forum at the ANU – and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
He grew up in an abusive household. His first memory is of his father holding him by the neck up against a wall as a toddler and punching him in the face.
“I don’t know why the memory is so vivid because I was so young,” he told me, “But I can clearly remember my heels banging against the wall from the force of the blow.”
As a 15-year-old, Glen decided he’d had enough and ran away from home to become a street kid, sleeping wherever he could get shelter and foraging for food among scraps.
He told the forum that, at the time, he didn’t realise government agencies and community organisations could help, he just figured it was him against the world.
Some of his stories are crushing: Glen talks of the man who gave him a meal and shelter only to attempt to sexually assault him in the middle of the night; then there’s the night in Brisbane when he was woken being kicked by two policeman who took him into custody and, he says, tried to plant drug paraphernalia on him.
Glen remembers trying to sleep in a toilet block in Brisbane, the seat down and sitting with his feet wedged on to the door to keep it shut tight. He was woken by a man peeping over the door who propositioned him.
“I panicked,” said Glen. “I just pushed out the door and ran for my life leaving all my stuff behind.”
When he returned 30 minutes later, he found his belongings stuffed into the toilet bowl and urinated on.
There were also stories of hope – the inspirational cop who helped him with advice and money, and of the support from Vinnies. And we heard about his quantum leap back into the mainstream of society.
Glen said at the start that he feared people would think he was a lesser man after hearing his story. In reality, he appeared 10 feet tall by the end.
The ACT has the second highest rate of homelessness in Australia and Glen is one of the CEOs who took part in the Vinnie’s CEO Sleepout in Civic Square. Donate to the cause at ceosleepout.org.au where you click from the home page to the ACT, then search for Glen Tibbitts.
Mark Parton is the breakfast announcer at 2CC.