Maddie grew up in Tasmania in a tight-knit Christian family. She described her early childhood as being normal and that she was a ‘pretty naive and innocent young girl’. In the 1990s she was signed up for lessons at a local sports club. Maddie was 12 at the time.
Her coach at the club was Brad Neumann, a man in his late 30s, who was married with a young child. Neumann took a special interest in Maddie. After some grooming an unhealthy relationship began that started off with touching and escalated into sexual penetration.
This continued until Maddie was about 17, when she began to feel uneasy about the relationship.
Maddie never spoke of her encounters with Neumann to anyone while she was still entrapped. She was sure people were suspicious nevertheless. ‘I know that people asked him what was going on because he would tell me that people would ask him. … It doesn't give you a lot of faith in people, because people saw and thought something was going on but never did anything.’
Maddie never felt confident enough to tell her parents. ‘Dad was a lot more hot-tempered back then, so yes, it was not the sort of thing that I would have really discussed with my parents, no.’
Maddie changed cities in an attempt to break with Neumann and concentrate on her schoolwork. Neumann kept contacting her and asking her to come back home, which she did. Maddie described Neumann as manipulative and controlling. ‘He had a young daughter. He said he would lose her, he would go to jail, and it puts you in a very hard situation. If you go and tell your parents, it's shameful.’ Maddie was confused and felt powerless to say ‘no more’.
Soon after, amid growing uneasiness with Neumann and without completing Year 12, Maddie fled to the mainland. Her father, who did not know what was troubling his daughter, helped her with the move. Still Neumann continued to ring her. It was not until Maddie was 19 years old that she told a new boyfriend about what had been going on. He helped her realise the relationship had been far from normal.
Maddie described having feelings of guilt and confusion about her ‘trapped’ relationship with Neumann, feelings that led to low self-esteem, depression, drug usage and an attempt to take her own life. She also feels that her life chances were affected as she lost the opportunity to finish her schooling.
Ten years after the abuse Maddie reported the matter and gave a statement to the Tasmanian Police. ‘I felt like he was still allowed to go on with his life in coaching and all that sort of stuff, but, in a way, had destroyed parts of my childhood. He’s never said sorry, never acknowledged it.’ The case was investigated, but when questioned Neumann claimed that Maddie had been much older at the time of the relationship. The police did not investigate further. Maddie feels her allegations weren’t taken seriously.
Maddie is now happily married to the same man who supported her and gave her good advice when she was 19. She has tried some counselling but decided it was not for her. ‘I've had to change the negative way I look at my life because I just sort of think, “Well, for all the crap that happened then, so many good things have happened to me now, and I've got away from it”.’