You Are Not Alone
There’s a shift happening in the world right now. From the Olympic down to the club level, we can no longer feign ignorance about the prevalence of sexual abuse in sport, and the resounding impact it can have on the lives of survivors. Horse sport is no exception.
Sex Abuse is
Inappropriate relationships between coaches and underage athletes are often an open secret in horse sport. But few report it. Negative consequences, self doubt and denial are common for survivors and bystanders alike. It can take years to even recognize abuse.
The Myth of
”She Knew What She Was Doing”
Young athletes, particularly those in elite sports, are more frequently sexually abused by coaches when they are competing at a higher level. There are several reasons for this. None of which are “she knew what she was doing.”
Grooming is an
The majority of molestation cases involve seduction and deception, not forceable rape. In other words, they are ‘grooming, not grabbing.’ Athletes can be coerced into compliance because they trust, like, or even love their abusers, making the act of abuse seem consensual. It’s not.
It is human nature to need heroes. Sport heroes inspire us to be better, to work harder, to strive for more. And we celebrate, admire and even worship them in return. It is also human nature to make allowances for those heroes and their failings. But just as no rider is above the rules on the field of play, they shouldn’t be in the barn either. When we hold everyone to the same standards of conduct, we prevent good people, our heroes, from doing bad things. And we stop bad people too in the process.
Horses teach us about empathy, responsibility, communication and hard work. They teach us about ourselves. It’s what brings us back to the barn over and over again—and the positive impacts are often lifelong.
When we protect athletes from abuse, we protect horse sport.