Bravehearts Information and Support Line urgently needs $180,000 so it can support people in crisis throughout 2023.
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TRIGGER WARNING: The following contains discussion of child sexual abuse. If you need support, please call Bravehearts Information and Support Line on 1800 272 831 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm AEST).
I was a happy child and soccer was my passion. I spent every waking moment thinking about the game and dreaming of the day I would be ‘discovered’ and get to play professionally.
Weekends were either spent playing with my school team or kicking the ball around with my friends in the local park. At seven years old, I didn’t have a care in the world.
I knew I was destined for the big leagues, especially when my coach began to take a particular interest in me. He told me he saw something in me and that I had ‘the talent to make it’. My dad wasn’t in the picture, so to me, having the extra attention of a ‘father figure’ in my life made me feel special.
It all happened gradually. It was such an exciting feeling to be singled out and given special treatment. He would take me on weekend drives to go watch games in neighbouring towns, and this being the 80s, it didn’t cross my mum’s mind to be suspicious. In those days, there just wasn’t the information out there about sexual predators and their grooming tactics. As you’ve likely guessed: My coach was grooming me.
My life went downhill rapidly in the years after those first few ‘weekend drives’ with my coach. Then after enduring years of abuse, my Mum and I moved interstate when I was 12, abruptly ending the abuse, however echoes of my experiences would continue to haunt me.
I grew from a carefree child to a reckless, risk-taking teenager, doing a couple of stints in juvie before I was 16. My mum was beside herself; she was so concerned but had no idea how to reach me. I had retreated deep into myself, and I don’t think I saw the light again until, after a few years spent behind bars in my late 30s, I finally made the decision to reach out for help.
One phone call helped me turn my life around...
I started searching online for a support service that might help me make sense of it all. That’s how I found Bravehearts and made that initial call to the Bravehearts Information and Support Line that helped turn my life around. I disclosed my abuse for the first time that day and began to realise the true extent of the damage my abuser caused me.
If only Bravehearts had been around back then - my life may have been so different. The importance of the service that Bravehearts offers in having someone on the other end of the line who understands you, hears you, cannot be underestimated. One phone call could mean the difference between grooming being interrupted or a child getting the support they need to recover from the trauma of sexual abuse.
The person on the other end of the phone had so much empathy and understanding. She assured me that I wasn’t alone and that I would be able to find help to deal with what had happened to me. I only wish Bravehearts’ support had been there decades earlier when I was a child.
I now spend my time fighting to prevent other kids from sexual harm, which is why I am sharing my story with you.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and for helping provide people like me the support they need in 2023. My greatest wish is that no child or family ever endure what I did, but further, that all families facing this crime will be able to have access to the support I eventually found via Bravehearts Information and Support Line - support that has changed my life.
Survivor and Bravehearts Supporter
*Name has been changed to protect identity