Nadya's story

As a young girl Nadya showed enormous athletic potential, and with her parents’ support she became an elite sportsperson by the time she was a teenager in the 1980s. It was during this time that she developed a close relationship with her coach, Paul Binder.

‘When I was growing up we were taught to respect elders. We were taught to respect coaches, teachers, people that were in roles of responsibility to take care of you and to guide you and give you an education. So that conditions you to having that respect for those people and more difficult to know when to question … You’re having to put trust in the people around you a lot, and you have to spend a lot of time with your coaches.’

In her late teens, Nadya was attending a sports camp when Binder, who was intoxicated, entered her bedroom late at night and raped her.

‘The first thing that I felt was “Oh my God, if anybody knew”. I was so ashamed and embarrassed, I didn’t want to tell anyone ... It was actually more frightening people knowing in the middle of the night, of actually screaming, because then I’d have to deal with more people, to talk to them about it than actually not fighting and just waiting for it to finish.’

Nadya did not disclose the rape at the time because, as she told the Commissioner, her training was so rigorous that she was conditioned to ‘move on quickly. The next ball is coming, you haven’t got time to look back ... You’re trained to be tough even if you’re not typically. If you’re soft or not you need to have a tough exterior to hide the interior’.

Some months after he raped her, Binder exposed his penis to Nadya during a training session. Later that year he forced himself into her taxi, took her to an unknown house and again raped her. ‘It was broad daylight, and one of the things that that person said is “We’re alone, there’s no-one here”.’

Nadya told her mother about the assaults, and she was supportive but left it to her to take whatever action she felt was necessary. Nadya did not feel comfortable reporting Binder to the sporting organisation where he was employed.

‘I didn’t go to the institution myself because of how they were from previous things that I’ve been involved with them. I didn’t trust them. I don’t trust them as an organisation.’

For many years Nadya carried the shame of what had happened while Binder continued to work as a coach. In her 20s she began dating a man to whom she disclosed the abuse. Her boyfriend was supportive and Nadya later married him, knowing she could trust him.

‘I told my husband when I first met him. And the first thing that I thought is “Well, he knows everything about me and if he still wants to marry me, well then he’s the man for me”. And because I felt liked used goods and I didn’t think anybody would ever marry me. And that was the opinion I had of myself at that point in time. And I knew that I could trust him because he listened and he believed me.’

In the early 2000s, with the support of her husband, Nadya made a report to the police and Binder was charged. Nadya gave evidence at his trial and while her experience with the police was very positive, the cross-examination was harrowing. She also found the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was unsupportive and non-communicative, giving her no information when Binder was acquitted. ‘I can’t even explain the DPP, it was horrendous. He was just horrendous. There was no counsellors. We had no support, no support at all.’

For many years now Nadya has worked as an elite coach for promising athletes. As a survivor, sportsperson and coach she has unique insight into the governing bodies of professional sports organisations and the difficulties young people face in coming forward to disclose abuse. In particular, she did not trust the sporting organisation she was a part of to conduct a fair investigation, which impacted her ability to speak out earlier about Binder.

‘How can you be impartial when you’re representing the coach that is working within your governing body? You would need an impartial person like an ombudsman or someone in there that is a mediator for both sides … Typically the institution doesn’t have any counsellors. They only have their lawyers’ part and their board of directors and things like that. So it’s not like a victim’s gonna feel very comfortable in front of a board of people … You feel like their job is to catch you out, to see whether they can make it be not accountable on their side. And that’s what it felt like.’

Nadya believes that the nature of the relationship between coaches and young sportspeople means that both parties need to be educated on child safe practices, including how to respond to inappropriate behaviour. She also believes that the governing bodies need to be more accountable for the actions of their staff and behave more appropriately when a complaint is made.

‘Students should be educated as to know what their rights are, to understand and be educated on how to respond to different situations with their coaches, how to look out for danger, when they need to involve another party, and who would they go to …

‘What I’d like to see come out of this is some accountability from the governing bodies … The way it was handled, it was very unfair. I feel it was a disgrace … It’s impacted my life a lot. It’s also impacted the recovery as well.’

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