Hi friends! I just wanted to pop on here, and share what's been happening in my life.
TW: sexual abuse, eating disorder.
From 2008 to 2010 (when I was 15 and 16), I was sexually abused (spoken to very graphically and inappropriately, and touched inappropriately) several times from someone who I thought was a National Team Athletic Therapist at International and Domestic Gymnastics events. I came forward in 2019, Trish (my coach) and I brought it up to Gymnastics Canada in March of 2019 and were told, essentially, it was not their problem as he was no longer active in that capacity.
After reaching out to the Canadian Athletic Therapy Association (CATA), we learned that he had not be a registered or licensed Athletic Therapist since 2002, including all of the domestic and international competitions he attended as a National Team Athletic Therapist. He worked as a "Therapist" for many years before my abuse and after, including out of a Gymnastics Club in Ontario. We also learned that he was a Doping Control Officer (the person who watches you pee when you are being drug tested at competitions) through the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. We reached out to CCES who then followed up with GymCan as to the results of their investigation (that they didn't do), resulting in GymCan opening an investigation in January of 2020.
From the ongoing GymCan investigation, we have learned that least four others have come forward with similar complaints since January of 2020, and there was also a GymCan and Police complaint around the same time as my abuse (~2008).
Since then, there are currently four ongoing investigations from different organizations he belonged to, in addition to one local Police and one RCMP investigation for my case alone. As of last week, this abuser is still not on the restricted, banned or under investigation (internally or by Police) list on the Gymnastics Canada website.
I have spent the last almost 15 years of my life trying to fill the void that these events created. It initially started with binge-eating, and later restricting. My eating issues were exacerbated from years of National Team Coaches and High Performances Directors commenting on my weight, that "I would be good if would just lose some weight" while I was on National Team, and told that my Gymnastics looked slumpy. I have shown up to every competition since the end of 2008 feeling like I am starting at a deficit, a -50, and everything I do digs my self-worth further or raises it temporarily. I have spent almost 15 years wondering "Why me?", "Who knows about this?", "People think I'm disgusting because I think that I am" to name a few.
It's hard to reconcile with the fact that I was targeted by this person because I vulnerable, queer and would have done anything to be successful in this sport. I was a child trying to find his way in the world, taken advantage of, and those who could help afterwards did not. No achievement, result, making a team, trip, amount of money has yet to make a dent in this void in my life. I have been working hard to come to terms with all of this over the last six months when the investigations and the weight of these events became too much. Right now, I'm in a good place, but nothing can replicate the relief of being free from these secrets.
I would be hard-pressed to find a gymnast of my generation who hasn't experienced or witnessed some kind of abuse. Beyond these events, I was called names and shamed for my weight by a National Team Advisor for years, a FIG (International Level) Judge exposed himself to me when I was 17 and then privately messaged me afterwards to ask if I was ok with the nudity, we all know of High Performance Coaches who have dated or had sexual relationships with athletes (some of which are still ongoing), and I've seen a male coach on top of his female athlete in a room alone, her in a bra laying on her bed, getting a massage from said coach (the door flung open to the room when the roommate walked in).
So why am I saying this now? First of all, this isn't a retirement post, so I want to finish my career on new terms and with a new perspective. The main part of healing and moving on is acknowledging that these things happened to me, and not carrying the burden of keeping these secrets in every decision I make, turn that I take and competition I attend. I also don't want others to feel alone like I have for the past two and a half years. I don't know who these other people are that have come forward, but I would love to connect with them and connect with anyone who has seen or experienced similar things.
A lot of me posting this is self-serving. I want peace in my life, and this is the last major missing piece in actually filling the void from these experiences. But I think of how hard it has been for me - a person with power, privilege and access - to get anyone in power to care, listen or to get anything done about it. Everyone is pouring time and money into making SafeSport seem accessible and helpful, and that has not been my experience whatsoever. I want to move this sport forward for myself, for the next generation, for the next little queer kid that finds safety and belonging in this sport, and for my little cousins that have also fallen in love with Trampoline.
I have to be brave enough to tell my story in order for there to be change.
If you have a story, I implore you to share if you are ready.
I'm going to take a little break from everything, and I'm bad at responding to DMs as it is, so if you want to reach out, my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heres to healing!