Content Warning: This post deals with themes of child abuse. If this affects you or someone you know, please call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
This October is an important month for Jarad, a 36-year-old man who is painting a fingernail for a cause.
That cause is the Polished Man campaign, a charitable movement that asks men and women to paint a nail to raise awareness and funds to end violence against children. The nail is a conversation starter that goes beyond just a social media post.
Run by not-for-profit YGAP, the Polished Man campaign raises funds towards trauma recovery and prevention programs for children who are suffering or at risk of violence.
The statistics are sobering. Around the world, one child dies every five minutes because of violence. An estimated 120 million girls and 73 million boys have been victims of sexual violence.
For Jarad, the campaign hits close to home. He is a survivor of abuse.
It’s not an easy thing to talk about. The wounds are lifelong, and revisiting them can be triggering. Jarad spoke to Mamamia in the hope of helping others to prevent the kind of trauma he experienced, to help others to understand the effects – and to get everyone’s nail polished for a good cause.
Jarad grew up in Sydney’s Western Suburbs. When he was 10, his family moved to the Sutherland Shire.
In the street where he grew up, Jarad had always been around children and teenagers of all ages. Through his involvement in his local church, Jarad also had positive teenage role models of different ages. It was not unusual for him to spend time with older kids.
But it was his friendship with a next-door neighbour that took a turn Jarad couldn’t quite comprehend, when he was just eight years of age.
“When I was a kid, this stuff just wasn’t on our radar. You didn’t hear about it, you didn’t talk about it,” Jarad tells Mamamia. “The fact that there was a guy next door who wanted to hang out with me who was 17 or 18, was initially exciting for me and he was the same age as the older siblings of my friends.”
By the age of 14, Jarad had started seeing news stories on TV and in the papers about abuse. It all suddenly made sense.