Last night I read about Kyle Beach and watched his video interview on ESPN SportsCenter. I really appreciate him and support him 100%, for being able to come forward, as a male professional athlete, about being sexually assaulted by his male coach. Kyle is helping so many people that he’ll never even meet, by doing so.
Photo via Achetron
As tragic as his story is, sexual assault in sports, at all levels, is nothing new. When the power dynamic between a person in authority in relation to the athlete, is abused, it is a recipe for sexual assault to occur.
Kyle reminded us that when a person is sexually assaulted, no matter if they are a professional athlete or not: – they can experience a myriad of emotions, including feeling scared, fearful, alone, dark, confused – these same emotions can be experienced by family members and close friends, including feeling responsible – that you have to block out parts of all of the experience “to keep going.” In Kyle’s case, to keep performing at the highest levels – when systems and stakeholders don’t believe sexual assault occurred, the person can experience the trauma all over again – they can blame themselves, and in Kyle’s case, “I was made to feel like I was wrong, like I was to blame for what happened” – when people that the person respects don’t believe them or tell them that it was their fault that sexual assault happened, it leads to further feelings of being alone and confused – when sexual assault happens and is not talked about so that the healing process can occur, dangerous behaviors can occur, and the person may not know why. In Kyle’s case, “I did stupid things, I acted out, I used alcohol, drugs…” – the healing process starts when you can start to talk about your experiences in safe spaces with safe people – sexual assault is not only about power, depending on the system/environment that it occurred in, it can often be about saving a person’s or team’s reputation and money. Yes, Kyle, I agree with you, there does need to be systemic change. YOU ARE NOT ALONE