Jelena Dokic’s “Unbreakable” reveals father’s abuse
Jelena Dokic is name that always reminds me of 1999 Wimbledon Grand Slam when as a teenager I watched a fellow teenager aged of 16 when she became the lowest ranked player to beat the top seed at a tennis major when the then world number one Switzerland Martina Hingis fell in straight sets to then 129th ranked Sydneysider. Despite adoring her prowess, little did the world know what the Yugoslavia born player was going through, until today when content of her autobiography “Unbreakable” written with Australia’s newspaper The Sunday Telegraph’s writer Jessica Halloran.There is no doubt most parents want what’s best for their children. But when it comes to the case of Jelena Dokic, it seems the father Damir Dokic was doing the opposite and misguidedly using physical force to punish or intimidate the once promising tennis star. Let me say that hitting and unnecessarily hurting children is never justified and is never okay and Dokic detailing the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father Damir makes me wonder what sort of a father he is.In the book, Dokic alleges her father once beat her so badly she lost consciousness, while subjecting her to a torrent of verbal abuse throughout her childhood.She also alleges her father whipped her with a leather belt because of a mediocre training session or a loss, a bad mood, and also spat in her face, pulled her hair and ears, while kicking her in the shins with pointed dress shoes.Physical punishment of Dokic is a reminder to all of us that we need to educate parents like her father to change their outdated attitudes about beating children. She allege suffering constant verbal abuse included calling his teenage daughter a “slut” and “whore”. “He beat me really badly,” said Dokic.”It basically started day one of me playing tennis. It continued on from there. It spiralled out of control. “Not just the physical pain but the emotional pain, that was the one what hurt me the most when you are 11, 12 years old and hear all those nasty things that was more difficult for me.”Your blogger hopes that Dokic story will encourage other people to speak about issues such as the suffering she went through.Reading to what she says, ought to prompt us to question some parent’s out dated perspectives. The physical punishment of children shouldn’t continue to be tolerated or defended by anyone. For the modern world we need responsible, enlightened adults who recognise that children are not lesser beings than adults.
Jelena Dokic said the worst beating she ever received saw her lose consciousness, following a first-round loss at the du Maurier Open in Canada in 2000. “It was a really nasty memory that will stay with me forever.I ended up fainting. He beat me really badly,” she said.”The better I played the worse he got. Which is the one thing I couldn’t understand,” Dokic added.Her revelations are as heartbreaking to your blogger as when I watched her 1999 Wimbledon quarter-finals exit on telly, Dokic was a star worth admiring, considering she was a teenager like your blogger. Physical punishment, which buffoons like Dokic father call discipline, inflicts immediate and long term harm on children. Those of us who care about children know through widely available research, that there’s connection between physical punishment and the adoption of aggressive and violent behaviours, impaired mental health, and other health issues and disadvantages.Even those who have never gone to school know that hitting and unnecessarily hurting people affects warm and trusting relationships. Dokic father should have known better that his daughter would be the adult of the future. How he treated his daughter back then, has had effect on her health, career, self-esteem, and as the book details shows sense of well being. Apart from the alleged beatings, Dokic says in the book her biggest regret was her father’s decision to force her to switch nationalities from Australia to Yugoslavia in 2001.Her father had accused Australian Open organizers of fixing the 2001 draw to ensure his daughter’s early exit after a first-round loss to Davenport, before moving his family out of Australia. “If there is one thing I could take back what he did or certain decisions, leave all the physical stuff and abuse, this was the one I regret,” Jelena Dokic said. “If I could turn back time, I would like to take back him making me switch from playing for Australia and playing for Yugoslavia,a few years later I came back and played for Australia but so much damage was done.”Hitting and unnecessarily hurting children degrades all children who live in societies that allow children to be treated in this way that Jelena Dokic endured. When given an opportunity to comment on physical punishment, almost all of them says it hurts them physically and emotionally and the former tennis star is no different.Children do also empathise with parents who are tired and stressed and who lash out at them in anger, and they understand but question parents’ belief that hitting children teaches them positive lessons in how to behave. Thats why I’m not surprised when Dokic says she does not hate her father. “I tried to make things better between us but it is not an easy thing to do,” Dokic said.To those who still deal with their kids like Dokic father, i want to remind that children have human rights to the dignity and respect afforded to other people and they deserve at least equal and in countries like Australia, assault is a crime. Its heartbreaking to read what this fellow generation Y had to go through.