‘If there had’ve been something stuck on the wall that said if someone asks you to do inappropriate things then tell somebody, then perhaps I would’ve. But it wasn’t as black and white as that.’
Justine told the Commissioner that when her sports coach first started grooming her, she had a crush on him and she liked the attention. Trevor would tell her that she looked older than she was, that she was pretty, and that she was good at the sport.
She had been training at the club in regional Victoria since the early 2000s, when she was about 10. When Justine was about 12, Trevor took over coaching the juniors. He was in his late twenties at the time and married.
Justine’s mum was a single parent and she was often late picking her up from training due to work commitments. Trevor would wait with Justine outside the club. One time, when her mum arrived really late, Trevor offered to drive Justine home and her mum accepted. He started dropping her home regularly after that.
He began asking Justine questions about what she did with boys and what her sexual experiences were. When they were in the car together he would dare her to do things, such as touch his crotch through his clothes.
‘So I would do it. I wanted to make a good impression and [show] that I wasn’t afraid and that I wasn’t a chicken.’
The abuse continued every time Trevor drove Justine home, which eventually was four times a week. It included Trevor touching Justine and Justine performing oral sex on him. She said she did this almost every time he drove her home – 98 per cent of the time. Sometimes he would perform oral sex on her.
One time they went to a different club which was further away. On the way home Trevor dared Justine to have sex with him, and she did, but in the middle of it he panicked, saying that he could get into a lot of trouble, and they stopped. They went back to regular training, and the abuse continued as before.
Justine started seeing other boys and told Trevor that she didn’t want to do anything sexually with him anymore. Around the same time, she got an injury that prevented her training for a while, but she still went to the club to say hello to people and Trevor would still give her lifts home and pressure her to do things.
As her injury improved and she returned to training, she started seeing a boy from the club who became her boyfriend. When she was about 16 she told him about Trevor and he was so angry that he insisted they both quit. Neither of them told anyone why, because Trevor had threatened to kill Justine if she spoke out.
Her boyfriend’s father knew how much they both liked the sport, and phoned the club to find out what was going on.
‘I guess a phone call from somebody’s dad asking why [we left] might have led them to question it but I don’t know what happened in the phone call. I think the suspicion was there on his dad’s behalf but we didn’t want him interfering in our lives essentially, so tried to stop that as much as possible.’
Around the same time, Justine’s mother kicked her out and she ended up living with her boyfriend’s mother, who supported them both through the end of their schooling.
The last time Justine heard from Trevor was when she was at university and he texted her asking her to go for a coffee. She didn’t reply.
After university she worked and life carried on. She said she got quite good at repressing what Trevor did to her, but she had a lot of trouble sleeping and often had terrible dreams in which people in authority were assaulting her. She had difficulty separating the dreams from reality and when she was 24 she had a psychotic episode.
‘I was hospitalised. It was a full-on experience but it came from me thinking about wanting to do something about this because I was thinking about the fact that he was still working in a school. But yeah, I went a bit crazy after that and then was in a psych ward for a little while.’
She was prescribed anti-psychotics but they made her feel ‘dead inside’ so she stopped taking them. She now takes Valium when she needs something to help her sleep.
Finding out that Trevor was still working around young people was key to Justine’s decision to go to the police and report his abuse, which she did last year. The police are now in the process of a criminal investigation and Justine said they have been great towards her.
Although her family has not been very supportive, she said she has been lucky with her education and career and gets a lot of support from her current boyfriend, her friends and other people’s families.
She said if there could be measures to help children speak up, they would be safer in future.
‘I think that maybe if there were preventative measures built into schools, like a campaign or something around it that made it less stigmatised. I guess it’s a bit like mental health. I can’t really go into a job interview and be honest about my mental health over the last few years of life because I just wouldn’t get hired so I just have to just be quiet and put on a brave face when it comes to a lot of things. I think it would be good to get rid of the stigma talking around this kind of stuff because it would hopefully help children to be okay with the fact that they do need to tell somebody if that’s happening, rather than just not talk about it.’