June 20, 2021

Former Sportswriter Breaks Her Silence "About The Baseball Player Who Raped Me"

Kat O'Brien wrote about baseball for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Newsday.

I Am Breaking My Silence About The Baseball Player Who Raped Me
Kat O'Brien, New York Times, June 20, 2021

I was 22 years old and working as a sports reporter when I was raped by a Major League Baseball player.

I didn't tell my best friend, my sister, my mother or my sports editor, who was a woman. For 18 years, I didn't tell anyone.

I didn't say it out loud to myself, write it down, speak his name or allow myself to think about it beyond wishing hard that it would not have happened. I spent years willing it to unhappen. Magical thinking became my truth.

That all changed in January, when I heard that the New York Mets' general manager, Jared Porter, was fired for sending sexually explicit texts and photographs to a female reporter in 2016.

I hadn't been a sports reporter in 11 years, but as I read accounts of other women's experiences with sexual harassment, the full force of my own assault hit me. And with it came the relief that I actually hadn't invited it, hadn't done anything wrong at all, something I had never once considered.

I had experienced the worst kind of assault, yet a quieter, still uncomfortable strain of harassment persists for women journalists working in sports locker rooms, and women who work in other rooms dominated by men.

I choose not to name him because it would only open me up to the possibility of having dirt thrown on my reputation; even all these years later and in the wake of the #MeToo movement, a former professional athlete wields considerable power. I hope I can help bring about systemic change rather than seek unlikely-to-come justice for one horrible act. . . .

So here's my story, the one I kept silent for so many years . . .

Ultimately, I decided that I needed to say this aloud, and put my voice to a movement that needs all the voices it can get. I wish things had changed dramatically in the last decade, but the stories of harassment and mistreatment that have emerged recently suggest otherwise. . . .

Just as important, I have realized that a trauma that had been living inside me for 18 years at times weighed me down and limited my choices in life. I didn't pursue jobs that were more in the public eye because I feared it might lead to my story coming out. My fingers are trembling as I write this. I love sports, I was good at my job. And the sports industry loses out when talented women question whether it's worth it to work in an industry that brings with it so much harassment. . . .

Talking about it is traumatic, but not talking about it is as traumatic in a different way.

1 comment:

laura k said...

Thank you for posting this.