Content warning: This post deals with themes of domestic violence.
The nation has witnessed former AFL star Ben Cousins’ meteoric rise to pro athlete level fame, and subsequent downfall to the life of a criminal drug addict.
While the 38-year-old serves a one-year prison sentence on 11 charges including drugs, violence and stalking, and breaching a violence restraining order, his former partner and mother of his children Maylea Tinecheff has spoken to Channel Seven’s Sunday Night.
And it appears their relationship – which endured some of the football player’s most troubled years – was more fraught than ever imagined.
At one stage, both Cousins and Tinecheff, 45, were using ice.
When the duo had children of their own, Tinecheff believed her partner would get clean. While she saw the birth of their son Bobby and daughter Angelique was "motivation" to give the drug away, Ben had other plans.
"You need to want to change. You need to want that change. And I wanted that change for a long time. And, um...he doesn't want to change," Tinecheff said.
"I pleaded with him for a long time."
And while the beauty technician said she will "always love" the father of her children, she also shared he became domestically violent - alluding that Cousins struck her multiple times, on multiple occasions - under the influence.
"He was violent," she said. "A few times [he has scared me]. He's a pretty big bloke... He can be quite aggressive when he gets cross."
On top of the unforgivable violence, Cousins was unfaithful to Tinecheff.
"I did a bit of detective work myself and I got her off his phone records and I actually met with her. Brought her into our home and... She was nervous," she said, referring to a woman Cousins has cheated on her with.
"I wanted to know what was going on. You know? I found out and yeah, that was it. That was it - him and I - yeah, that was just about the end."
While Tinecheff may wish she had a clean break from Cousins there and then, their on-and-off relationship plummeted to even more worrying depths - he began turning up at his door in the middle of the night. At the peak of his emotional violence, he sent Tinecheff 2000 text messages in two months, and rang her 103 times in a single day.
The situation became so bad, Tinecheff placed Cousins involuntarily in a mental hospital for five weeks and took out a violence restraining order.
"The children and I had to go and stay in a refuge to be away from him, so he couldn't find us. That's how bad things got," she said.
"Who knows what he'd do? His behaviour...he was so far from the person that he is, we couldn't deal with him. I couldn't deal with him anymore. You have no idea what it was like. He's crazy... I've got four children to look after. To have somebody like that, that insane, beating on your door, ringing your phone, coming to the house... The kids can't see that stuff anymore."
With Cousins now in jail - and apparently still using drugs - Tinecheff is solely supporting her four children. Worst of all, she believes her former partner will never be able to truly give up his addiction.
"[My fear is] that he'll die," she said.
Hoping to reach Cousins' prison cell, Tinecheff pleaded, "Hang your boots up for goodness sake."
"The kids need you, we need you. Just come home to us," she said.
If you or a loved one is in a domestically violent relationship, Mamamia urges you to contact 1800 RESPECT.