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voice@dshs-koeln.de | @Voicessport

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Overview

Voices for truth and dignity – combatting sexual violence in European Sport through the voices of those affected.

The VOICE project will generate crucial research data for the European sport community by listening to the voices of those that have been affected by sexual violence in sport.

The resulting evidence-base will provide a platform for powerful knowledge-exchange opportunities and educational resources.

The objective is to enhance the sports community’s capacity to combat sexual violence and strengthen integrity in sport.

Aims and objectives

The project is based on the principle that policy and initiatives generated from the accounts of those that have experienced sexual violence in sports settings will be highly valued and, therefore, most effective in ‘reaching’ the sports community and promoting knowledge-transfer, education and development.

Watch VOICE overview film

The research will:

  1. Provide a space for those who have suffered sexualised violence in institutions related to the delivery of sport, to recount their experiences;
  2. Consider the causes, nature, and circumstances of harassment and abuse within the sport context;
  3. Prepare and publish reports including recommendations.

Research of this nature is highly sensitive and is subject to strict ethical procedures and protocols developed from best practice in the field.

Design and key actions

The VOICE-project started in January 2016 and will finish in June 2018. It is delivered via six work packages:

  1. Conduct a European and comparative research study with those who have been affected by sexual violence in sport, including a status quo analysis on intervention policies in 8 European countries;
  2. Stage 8 national/regional ‘Acknowledgement Forums’ with key stakeholders from the sport and victim-support communities;
  3. Convene a multi-national European workshop to:
    1. initiate/develop networks,
    2. exchange good practice, and
    3. create concepts for education resources on prevention of child sexual exploitation and abuse in European sport;
  4. Generate evidence-based educational resources for the European sports community aimed at the prevention of child sexual exploitation and abuse in, and through, sport.

Gloria Viseras

My name is Gloria Viseras. I am 51 years old and a mother of three children. I was Gymnastics National Champion and one of the only 9 women who represented Spain in the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Unfortunately, I was also a victim of sexual abuse in the context of sport from the age of 12 to the age of 15.

I have not been able to disclose for a long time until I met former teammates 30 years later. Verbalizing the abuse has helped me start with my recovery and put my whole life in perspective. Verbalizing the abuse has allowed me forgive myself for not being able to speak up and has made me realize that it had not been my fault.

Today I help other athletes find the help they need to recover from the consequences of having suffered sexual abuse in sport and campaign for healthy and safe sport.

Karen Leach

My name is Karen Leach. Between the ages of 10 to 17 I competed at national and international level. My dream was to swim for Ireland at the Olympic Games. I loved swimming, I loved my sport, and nothing else mattered to me at that age. My dream came at a very high price.

My Irish Olympic coach abused me mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually. He destroyed my childhood and for many years after that my life was hell on earth because of the deep pain and hurt within me. What happened in swimming in Ireland must never happen again – everyone must know the truth and protect children in sport.

I know what it is like to be in a very dark, sad, lonely, frightening place, too scared to tell anyone. My message to you is – please speak, use your voice, tell someone, start your path to freedom, get help.

Today I am a Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse. You can be too. Your Voice, Your Life, Your Truth.