Content warning: non-graphic sexual abuse discussion.
Kayla Harrison Becomes First American Woman to Win Gold in Judo
Kayla Harrison won gold in Judoka half-heavyweight division (78kg) and while this accomplishment is a testament to her skill in her sport, her true strength is what it took her to get here. Harrison was a victim of sexual abuse for years by her first Judo coach - and a family friend - Daniel Doyle. Doyle is now now serving a ten year prison term for these crimes. She didn’t let this horror define her or take away her love for the sport. After Daniels sentencing, she moved to Boston and re-committed herself to her Olympic dream - winning gold. On her ordeal, Harrison says:
“Because of this taboo our society places on being the victim, I couldn’t look in the mirror and had no self-esteem. Now I can’t imagine not speaking up against that. It’s so wrong and I don’t want others to have to suffer what I did.
“I hope that, by coming out with my story, my past will help people’s futures,” she says. “That little boy or little girl. I want them to know it’s OK to come out and talk about it and find there’s help.
“I’ve had a lot of older people come up and say, ‘I read your story and I wished I had done something too’. You look in their faces and can see the regret, how it changed their lives and it makes you feel sad for them. Yet it just clinches the feeling in me, that I did the right thing.”