Jovan's story

‘There was no one you could talk to. The trainer was like our teacher. The trainer was like our priest. The trainer was like everything to us.’

Jovan’s family migrated to Australia from the Balkans, and settled into a community of people from the same country.

The community, in regional New South Wales, ran a dancing group, which Jovan’s parents enrolled him in. He thinks he joined the group in the late 1970s, sometime before he turned 10.

The man who trained the group was very well-respected in the community, and provided one-on-one tuition to members, including Jovan, at his house.

During these private lessons he sexually abused Jovan, including raping him, on many occasions.

Jovan has never felt able to tell his parents about this abuse, out of shame, and also fear that his father might hurt the trainer and get into trouble.

He suggested to the Royal Commission that children should have an independent body they can report abuse to, in the knowledge that it will remain confidential.

The abuse is always in Jovan’s mind, and has affected his whole life. For a while, when he was younger, things were going well for him. He got good marks at school, worked for a prestigious company, and was married.

After experiencing a series of losses – the death of a family member, divorce, not being able to see his child – the abuse started coming back to him, and things spiralled out of control.

As these memories became more intrusive, Jovan began using drugs to mask the pain.

‘I was doing really well, and all of a sudden, that comes into your head, or something triggers it off. You don’t care about the ones that love you, you don’t care about no one. All you do is just take drugs just to take your mind away from everything.’

When as an adult Jovan ran into the trainer, he was unable to confront him about the abuse. He did not ever report this matter to police, or seek any compensation.

Jovan thinks the trainer would likely have abused other kids too. He knows this man is still alive, and would now like to see him charged.

Jovan has been prescribed medication for depression in the past. The doctor who prescribed this knew about his bereavement and divorce, ‘but I didn’t say nothing about this [the abuse]... I don’t want no one knowing about this’.

It is only recently that he has started talking to his drugs and alcohol counsellor about the abuse, which has ‘been the best ... I wish I’d done that a long time ago’.

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