As a parent of a survivor of sexual abuse, I am deeply passionate about increasing the awareness and prevention of sexual misconduct in sport. My daughter was practicing and competing as a minor when she was groomed by her coach and experienced abuse. My family’s experience is not isolated. I have had hundreds of conversations with survivors and their families whose experiences echo themes I continuously encounter. Shame, a lack of acknowledgment of the issue, and an unwillingness to take accountability have saturated environments where our athletes learn, play, and compete. More often than not, leadership chooses to do what is easy instead of doing what is right, and perpetrators are able to find new roles with athletes elsewhere. Sadly, more and more headlines expose this systemic issue to the world, as sports coaches from youth, college, and elite levels across the globe are being investigated for sexual misconduct with athletes.
It is stunning that these behaviors continue to occur, making sport an unhealthy environment for everyone. The fallout from sexual abuse is endless for survivors and their families. Yet, very little is being done in our athletic communities to prevent this endemic problem. We need to remove the stigma and normalize the necessary conversations—because if you can't talk about something, you can't repair it. It is well past time to let go of outdated practices and assumptions and embrace awareness and better practices.
So, what’s the solution? It’s proactive prevention; a practice that we see implemented in other industries already. Whether it’s in our schools or in our offices, nearly every other environment that has a potential for power imbalance has put in place a culture and set of operating policies to protect all participants—be it the teacher and student, or the manager and employee. The sporting environment should be treated just the same, with safeguards between coach and athlete.
I am intimately acquainted with the enormous and multi-faceted difficulties faced by survivors and the personal toll sexual abuse takes on their loved ones. As a passionate advocate for change, I am committed to ending sexual misconduct in all sports through awareness, education, and transparent discussion as president and founder of #WeRideTogether.
I thank you for your continued support.
President of #WeRideTogether
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault or misconduct, help is available 24/7. For information on confidential helplines, sexual assault reporting procedures, and mental health resources, click here.