Content warning: this article covers issues of abuse and violence and may be distressing for some readers
Jarad is an ambassador for Polished Man, and a survivor of childhood abuse. He’s determined to speak out about his experience to bring the conversation about violence against children into the mainstream, and raise money to help protect others from this experience.
Recently, Jarad generously sat down with Laura from the Bank Australia team to share his story...
“In many ways I had an ideal childhood – a normal, happy, healthy home – all the best things a child could have,” Jarad said.
Jarad’s life was permanently changed when an older neighbour started a relationship with him at the age of eight. Initially, the relationship seemed positive and supportive, but it quickly became abusive and manipulative. The abuse went on for years before Jarad was able to find a way to end contact with the neighbour.
“He led me to believe that what was happening was my fault and that I would be to blame and in trouble if anyone found out. As a result, I spent a lot of years dealing with intense feelings of guilt and shame," Jarad said.
“Once the abuse stopped…on the outside I was able to participate in my life, but on the inside I was removed, and none of the positive parts of my life could reach me. It was like I was wearing a shield.” he said.
Jarad sees himself as lucky – he had a supportive family and community. As a late teen, this helped him feel comfortable sharing his story with good friends, and then tell his family. By this point he had started to understand that he was not at fault and that he was the victim of childhood abuse.
After many years of dealing with his experience and its aftermath with the help and support of his family, friends and professional help, he came across ygap’s Polished Man campaign.
“When I found Polished Man in 2015, I had been through a long journey of processing and recovery. In the first year I just polished a nail, in 2016 I participated and raised $500. Then last year I got in touch with the campaign and offered to be an ambassador and tell my story,” he said.
He explained that he doesn’t find it easy to tell his story and it can be emotionally taxing, but that he is motivated to do what he can to draw attention to this issue, in the hope he can help others.
“If I can be talking publically about this, then maybe others can be talking privately about it. I believe it’s only by talking about this issue that we can break the taboos around violence against children. I don’t expect everyone who has a similar story to get on a platform and talk about it like I have – it just feels like what I have to do.”
Jarad is spending October fundraising for Polished Man – with a goal to raise $10,000. He’s also planning to run workshops in Sydney schools and share his story with kids in the hope that others will be able to speak out at a younger age if they are, or have experienced, violence of any form.
“I believe that it’s important that we bring these conversations to the surface... I hope if people see me talking about it, they can see that I’ve been able to work through it.”
Support is available from 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732, Lifeline: 13 11 14 and Kids HelpLine: 1800 55 1800