#SurvivorStories: We have to stop sexual abuse in sports.
Young athletes are conditioned to believe training has to hurt in order to be successful. We learn quickly that when we speak up about body pain or discomfort, we are punished. We are told to ignore our pain, get in line, and “be tough”.
We are broken by the adults we trust. We scream in silence.
We learn that it’s simply not safe to speak up. This paradigm is embedded quickly and seems impossible to break. The idea of consent is almost laughable… the hands of adults cover our bodies everyday - stretching, spotting, and coaching us. We revoke ownership over our own bodies, granting unspoken permission to the adults we trust.
As you may have guessed, this is a perfect environment for a sexual predator to thrive, just as Larry Nassar did.
Experiencing sexual abuse unleashes an identity crisis. "Did this really happen? Why did this happen? What did we do to deserve this?". It becomes too painful to bear. We summon our athletic resilience to squash these feelings and carry on.
With Courage First, myself and other survivors hope to inspire you to take action in your athletic environments, families, and communities. We hope that you’ll listen to our stories, and begin to ask the difficult questions that can prevent and stop sexual abuse.
In the words of Winston Churchill, “Courage is a decision.” I beg of you: Please choose be brave.