June 7, 2012

Another Kristen's Story

In college I was lucky enough to meet Andrea Cooper.  She travels around the country presenting "Kristin's Story."  "Kristin's Story" is a presentation where Cooper shares her daughter's story of sexual assault, depression and suicide.  Cooper strives to raise awareness about sexual assault and provide resources so that no one else has to experience the pain of losing a child.  The presentation was extremely powerful and I was lucky enough to have coffee with Cooper beforehand to get to know here.

However, lately I've been hearing about another Kristen's story.  My old swim coach, Kristen, has been all over the local newspapers over the past few months because she was brave enough to speak out about the hell she experienced when a PE teacher at our middle school sexually abused her for years.  I won't go into all the details, it's not my story to share, but if you want to read more, here is an article that was recently published in the Contra Costa Times: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20711784/no-longer-victim-assistant-swim-coach-at-cal?source=pkg.

Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to be brave like Kristen.  The most recently article published by the Contra Costa Times was published on June 6, 2012 and can be found here: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20799532/moraga-swim-club-bans-cal-swim-coach-sex.   Kristen was scheduled to run a swim clinic at the Moraga Country Club where she swam for years, and coached as well.  My sister, brother and I were lucky enough to be coached by Kristen and her brother Marc.  Everyone loved Kristen.  All the boys thought she was so pretty and all the girls wanted her to be their big sister.  She made swimming fun and knew what she was teaching us.  None of us could ever have imagined the horror that was her life off the pool deck.  But Kristen is using her experience to spread awareness, but that's not all she's doing.  She is also the Associate Head Coach of UC Berkeley's Women's Swim Team.  She was scheduled to coach a swim clinic at our pool.  Yet, as stated in the article, the Club cancelled the event.

To the Moraga Country Club:
You should be ashamed of yourselves for cancelling her swim clinic.  There was absolutely no reason to do so.  And if the speculation is true, and the reason you cancelled the clinic was because parents want to protect the retiring principal at the local elementary school, then shame on you twice.  You have just sent a profound message to all the children who swim at the club.  You have told them that if you are brave enough to speak up and speak out about the horrific events you have experienced in your life, then you should expect to be punished in the most positive areas of your life.  What a horrible example to set for the children.

To the parents who wanted the clinic cancelled:
Why would you go to these lengths to support the principal of your school?  I highly doubt you knew him back when Kristen was a student at the other school he worked at, nor do you know what really happened at those times.  How would you feel if God forbid your child went through the same thing Kristen did?  Would you want them to be punished even more?  Don't you think what she experienced was enough?  And that principal is oddly enough retiring...I know people are innocent until proven guilty, but I think his sudden retirement is probably the closest admission to his guilt we will ever get from him.  You have set a horrible example for your children and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

To Kristen,
Thank you for being brave enough to share your story.  Thank you for striving for justice so that others living in silence might have the courage to speak up as well.  Thank you for setting an example for all the kids you have coached over the years and who have looked up to you--you have no idea that impact you are making on them.  Thank you for being willing to open up a very private, and difficult part of your life, so that justice could be served, others could be helped, and hopefully you can begin to heal.  The impact you are making will be far greater and long lasting than the horror than you have experienced.

Sexual assault and domestic violence have to be talked about.  The only way we are going to eliminate these horrors is to increase awareness and education.  Do your part, share this post, have a conversation with your friends, and let your children know that they can tell you anything.  If we all talked to 5 people, and asked them to talk to 5 people, and they asked those 5 people to talk to 5 more people, think about the positive impact we could make.

***Update*** The Moraga Country Club Board of Directors has reversed their decision and Kristen will be allowed to hold her clinic!  Read the article here: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20807152/moraga-country-club-reverses-decision-cal-swim-coach

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...