New research made up of direct accounts from child sexual abuse victims has recently been published by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). The information outlines how sporting coaches, instructors and volunteers have used their positions of power to groom, manipulate, sexually abuse and often humiliate their vulnerable young victims; those they were meant to tutor, influence, and nurture.
The paper, published in collaboration with the Truth Project has highlighted that 91% of those who shared their experience have suffered abuse at the hands of a sports coach or volunteer and that this abuse often took place in sports clubs. Other survivors of abuse in sports, including but likely not limited to angling, boxing, canoeing, football, gymnastics, ice skating and swimming, have shared accounts of the abuse taking place on residential trips and in communal areas or public spaces such as showers or changing rooms.
The abuse often followed the abuser having taken the time to approach parents to arrange trips out or overnight stays, thereby seemingly having ‘groomed’ the adults too. By creating these social links, sports coaches and other sporting ‘leaders’ took care to ensure that barriers were made which would prevent victims from disclosing their experiences thus leaving children with feelings of guilt, shame, that they wouldn’t be believed or the feeling that they themselves were to blame. This coercion also introduced the fear that if they did tell, they would have privileges removed or that they would lose their ‘promotion’ to the ‘better team’.
Where are they now?
The effects of child sexual abuse do not stop when the physicality of it ends. It is tragic and all too common that the long lasting impacts are prolonged for victims. Survivors frequently describe being forced to take the life changing repercussions with them into adulthood.
Victims can often become depressed and suffer from complex emotional issues. Sports abuse can lead to victims being unable to pursue a long sporting career or even prevent them from continuing to participate in their chosen sport due to the mental scars caused by their abuse. Whilst others often find it difficult to work or to form long-lasting and/or intimate friendships and relationships.
We understand and appreciate that disclosing and discussing child abuse is not easy. Taking that first step can seem daunting and may ignite uncertainty and bring back feelings that survivors may wish to leave in the past. However, talking about these experiences often helps victims come to terms with what has happened and assists in gaining some understanding of the effect that abuse has had on their life and what support they may need moving forward.
It is never too late to seek justice and report an abuser.
If you or someone you know has suffered abuse at a sports club or other sporting establishment, Farleys Solicitors are here to help. We have a specialist team who deal predominantly with these types of matter and we pride ourselves on treating our clients with sensitivity and compassion throughout their journey with us.
To make an initial enquiry, please contact us on our dedicated abuse line 0330 134 6430 or contact us by email.