Former St Kilda player Rod “Rocket” Owen has revealed how sexual abuse he suffered during his time at the club sent him on a dangerous path of addiction that made him suicidal.
In a wide-ranging interview with the ABC, Owen opened up on his tough past which included addictions to gambling, alcohol and drugs, as well as being sexually abused in the club’s Little League team.
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Before his first game on the MCG as a nine-year-old representing St Kilda in the Little League competition, Owen, now 54, revealed he had been molested by a team manager.
Owen spoke of his 38 years of fame, partying, addiction, illness and despair during his lifetime, which includes 78 games for St Kilda.
By the age of 23, Owen had accrued $150,000 of gambling debt and was undertaking four-day drinking sessions from Friday to Monday.
Owen would often drink and drug himself into oblivion and newspapers were reportedly told of an infamous 63-day bender.
“I didn’t care if I lived or died,” he said.
“I‘d walk down the street and wish I wasn’t here.”
Rod Owen has spoken of his time at St Kilda.Source:News Limited
After the loss of his father, Owen was seen to be an emotional wreck during his debut season and was reportedly offered speed tablets to calm down.
There was no VFL drug code at the time with club legend Ian Stewart telling the ABC he never saw drugs being administered in his time at St Kilda.
“The tablets didn‘t just calm me down, they gave me a feeling of invincibility and superiority,” Owen said.
“To run out the race with the crowd screaming was the best feeling I‘d ever experienced in my short life.
“Only 38 years later have I learned that as addicts, we spend the rest of our lives chasing that first high and never finding it. I‘d been given those drugs to overcome emotional trauma, but it provided a rush, and soon they became part of my life. You don’t go back to your second-best feeling, or your third best.”
There was also attempts to take his life and he spent time in jail, with Owen heading into rehab in 2018 after being left “out of his mind” in Port Melbourne.
After the story came to light this week via the ABC, Saints CEO Matt Finnis gave a heartfelt apology.
“I have been talking with Rod about his experiences playing senior football, but my apology and support offered on behalf of the club in that context now feels deficient given this disclosure and his story,” he said to the ABC.
“That Rod suffered this abuse is so upsetting and that he has carried this terrible burden for so long is heartbreaking.
“For the club, that some of this happened under the name of the Saints is shattering, and I promise Rod and his family, and our supporters, we will do everything we can to right this wrong.”
If you or someone you know requires crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or tap here.
Originally published asEx-Saint reveals harrowing sexual abuse
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