Disclaimer: While many of our volunteers are sister survivors of Michigan State University, USAG, and USOC, this organization and entity is limited in the ability to accommodate all narratives of each Sister Survivor. Our statements and actions may not always represent the views of all of the Sisters Survivors.
Using a long-term method of creating a personal relationship with the athlete to reinforce power and control, and alienate the athlete from their support systems. Grooming often occurs on a continuum beginning with boundary crossing and then escalating to additional acts of sexual abuse.
Coaches, guardians, and people of influence often instill fear in athletes using threats such as reducing playing time or being removed from the team, to secure compliance and/or silence. Promised rewards of additional resources and time may be used to manipulate athletes into compliance and/or silence.
Gaining trust is often achieved by “unburdening” or doing “favors” for the parents/guardians such as providing transportation to a family that is struggling with scheduling or providing equipment to a child whose family cannot afford it. These actions often occur in a way that seem helpful and generous, but coaches, guardians, and people of influence may exploit a child and/or family’s vulnerability to gain their trust and place them in the position of a parental figure.
Coaches, guardians, and people of influence maintain control over interactions and use isolation tactics to make athletes feel alone by restricting access to other athletes, coaches, trainers, facilities, and their family.
Using pressure or manipulation to force sexual contact. For example, using shame, threats, ultimatums, or withholding access to their sport or playing time as punishment for not engaging in sexual contact.
Coaches, guardians, and people of influence* making light of abuse disclosed by athletes or whistleblowers and shifting the blame onto them. For example, gaslighting them into believing it did not happen or that the abuse was really an acceptable act within athletic training.