Athletes from across leagues share their personal stories during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Last month people across the country recognized Sexual Assault Awareness month, and professional athletes, both male and female, lent their voices to the cause. To honor sexual assault survivors, Mic partnered with several athletes to create “Athletes United”, a series of short but powerful videos about their personal connections to sexual assault.
Titus O'Neil, WWE superstar, shared his family’s story, revealing that he is a product of his mother’s traumatic rape at age 11. Having witnessed the lasting emotional toll it took on his mom, O’Neil has decided to use his platform to remind people that ending sexual violence is a worthy charge, and he is committed to standing with victims and doing what he can to curb sexual assaults across the country.
Layshia Clarendon of the Atlanta Dream penned an essay declaring herself a survivor of sexual assault, imploring readers to recognize the harmful effects of rape culture and work to reframe the discussion. Her teammate, Elizabeth Williams, addressed how the culture surrounding sports can exacerbate the problem of sexual assault because athletes often hold special positions in their communities and, therefore, are not always held accountable for their transgressions.
Wade Davis, former NFL cornerback, encouraged all athletes to amplify this message and use their resources to speak out against sexual violence, both in the sports community and in their communities. And DeAndre Levy, former Detroit Lion, has been raising funds to test rape kits in Detroit, inspired by his wife, Desire Vincent, and her own experience with sexual assault.
“Athletes United” is compelling activism for many reasons. First, it shares several voices, from female survivors to male allies. Including both genders is crucial to the effectiveness of this message. Second, the pieces have been drawn from several different professional sports leagues, proving that sexual assault is a pressing issue for everyone, not just one of two sports. Finally, each athlete in the series addresses a different aspect of sexual assault; they touch on the shame victims may feel, the pitfalls of the justice system, the implications of sports culture and sexual violence, and the importance of athletes using their positions to contribute to the solution. The collection of perspectives gives viewers a more complete picture of the problem, and thus, a better understanding of what needs to be done, within the sports world and without.
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