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Jimmy Bartel reveals he had a very special intention for kids when he grew his famous beard.

Jimmy Bartel has revealed he had a special intention for opening up conversations about domestic violence with kids using his famous luscious beard during his final AFL season.

Since opening up about his own family’s experience with domestic violence in March, people have sent the 32-year-old emails, texts, and even stopped him in the street with their own accounts of troubled home lives.

“I’ve been overwhelmed and a little bit saddened by how common it is,” Bartel told Mamamia.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions around violence as far as culturally, we have this attitude that it only happens to a certain class of people in certain suburbs, but it happens to everyone; it doesn’t discriminate, and that’s only been reiterated to me by the people I’ve spoken to throughout the year.”

Jimmy Bartel with his wife, Nadia. Source: Instagram.

Bartel's special intention was for parents to speak to their kids about domestic violence.

"The beard was a very visual cue to start the conversation," Bartel said.

"Part of it was that I understood the platform that the AFL has. We play in front of millions of people across the year, whether that be live or on TV, but it was a way for even kids to start the conversation with parents. You know, 'mum, dad, why does Jimmy have the big beard?'"

For Bartel, welcoming his son Aston with wife Nadia Bartel was the catalyst for speaking out.

Jimmy Bartel with his son, Aston. Source: Instagram.

"Having a little boy was one of the big reasons, on top of the fact I was finally mature enough to handle it at the age I was at, and I was at the end of my playing career. So it was just a number of things coming together, but ultimately, having the little man was one of the main reasons why."

Speaking to The Herald Sun in March, the Brownlow medallist made headlines around the country after he revealed that, for much of his childhood he, his two older sisters and his mother were subjected to violence at the hands of his now late father, Terry.

He spoke of a man who charmed the hearts of many in public but had a darker side in private. A side that had no respect for women or children. A side that too many men still have today.

Jimmy Bartel White Ribbon Day
Jimmy Bartel playing for Geelong in the 2016 AFL season. Source: Getty.
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"The point [is that] the conversation is started, but parents can have it any way they feel comfortable. It's not, you know, ramming the topic down their throat. They could have the conversation however they felt comfortable," he continued.

So having started the talk, has speaking about his own experience become easier?

"It's still not something I feel really comfortable in talking about," Bartel said. "But that's the culture we're in in Australia... It's never spoken about. So hopefully a part of it will bring it out and talking about it a lot more can go a long way to trying to understand it all."  

Years on from their own childhoods, Bartel and his two sisters are now parents themselves. And by creating a new generation, he can see the cycle of domestic violence being broken.

“I definitely think it is [broken]. I just look at the amazing women my sisters are now with their young families. My older sister's got three boys and they’re incredibly well behaved and respectful, and the values that she's instilled in them will make them fine young men."

Rosie Batty talks about her experience with domestic violence. Post continues... 

One thing that comes up over and over again when talking about tackling domestic violence is the importance of educating children about respect from a young age; something Bartel credits his mum for always doing in their home.

"I couldn't have wished for any better upbringing with my mum and my two sisters. I absolutely loved my upbringing with my family," he said.

"Coming back to what you asked before, I definitely do think the cycle stopped with me and my sisters but that's completely attributed to my mum and the way she raised us."

As a father himself, Bartel doesn't really find himself thinking about his dad.

Jimmy, Nadia and Aston. Source: Instagram.

"I don't think about him very often, but with my parenting, I can already see it coming out that I'm so much like my mother.

"She's a pretty strong lady and I think she did a pretty damn good job of raising myself and my two sisters, so I'm sort of trying to mimic the way she raised us a little bit because she did 9 0per cent of it."

One of the most important lessons he wants Aston to learn?

"I think it's really important to teach both boys and girls to treat people with respect. you know, you don't have to like or love everyone, but you do have to treat them with respect."

Find out more about White Ribbon Day or take the White Ribbon oath here