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.”
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?'"
"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.