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Sexual Assault Within Sports: Examining the Layers of Betrayal (By Cindy Miller Aron)

For most, sexual mistreatment of any kind is uncomfortable to talk about, let alone come forward and address. Sexual mistreatment is a complex issue that permeates our culture. Sexual mistreatment is an issue that is riddled with shame. It is one that people would prefer to 'leave alone' or 'not see'. If we 'see' then we must do something. The challenges athletic departments have addressing sexual mistreatment, whether on a university level, secondary or club level, in many ways mimics the inherent bind victims experience in families where sexual mistreatment and abuse occurs.

It is well established that traumatic events are interpersonal in nature and often are remarkably damaging (Briere & Spinazzola 2005) because the betrayal occurs between trusted individuals and/or systems. The interpersonal nature and damage, combined with what are likely inherent dependencies (i.e, scholarship, livelihood, and identity), creates the necessary matrix for 'betrayal blindness' (Freyd, 1994, 1997).

We as social workers are in a position to be helpful not only to individuals who are sexually assaulted or mistreated, but to make an impact on the system. I encourage all of us to continue advocating for the issues we are passionate about. This is our collective mission. To provide a voice in situations where voices are silenced. To find even one person who will listen, who will perhaps then open a door we can step through. Advocacy is tough. One encounters remarkable resistance and barriers that can be disheartening and discouraging. That is where we need to lean on each other for support and inspiration to continue forth with our collective cause.

I look forward to our conference in a few weeks...seeing ‘old friends' and getting a chance to meet new ones. Using this opportunity to brainstorm around how NASWIS can have a stronger voice.

NASWIS Executive committee member Cindy Aron received an invitation to participate on The NCAA Board of Governors Commission to Combat Sexual Violence.

Further, last February (2016) Cindy Aron also had the privilege of participating in the NCAA Higher Education Sexual Assault and Prevention Summit held in Indianapolis. At this Summit the participating stakeholders worked with the rough draft of the Sexual Violence Prevention Toolkit. During the next several months we had opportunities to edit and add to the document culminating in the release of the toolkit:

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