Learning from lived experience of childhood sexual abuse

Last updated: 25 May 2021 Topics: Athlete wellbeing Elite athletes Duty of care

In this episode, CPSU senior consultant Carole sits down with with former swimmer Karen Leach to talk about her experience of childhood sexual abuse and what we can learn from it to keep children safe in sport and improve our sport safeguarding measures.

During this powerful and insightful podcast, Carole and Karen cover topics such as:

  • creating a culture of safety within sport
  • the importance of listening to young athletes
  • the need for robust safeguarding policies
  • clear codes of conduct and safeguarding measures for sports clubs and organisations
  • speaking out and how to report a safeguarding concern
  • the impact of abuse

Looking after yourself

During this podcast we talk about childhood sexual abuse. This may be difficult to hear and, for some people, it may bring up distressing memories, thoughts or feelings.

Whilst it may not be easy to listen to, this episode includes important information to help all of us keep children safe in sport.

To look after yourself while you listen consider taking breaks, listening during a walk or before an activity you enjoy such as exercise or meeting a friend. 

You will find links to organisations that can provide emotional support below.

Can’t see the player? You can also listen to this episode on our Audioboom channel.


About Karen

Karen Leach

An expert by lived experience in childhood sexual abuse, Karen is one of the leading voices in the international work against sexual abuse and harassment in sport.

Karen is a Safe Sport Advocate, an ambassador for VOICE (Voices for Truth and Dignity Combatting Sexual Violence in European Sport through the voices of those affected), a psychotherapist and a counsellor.

Karen is also a member of the Sport England Safeguarding Advisory Panel, the pool of European Experts on Sexual Violence in Sport and the Safeguarding Children in Sport Strategic Group in Northern Ireland.

Since the publication of her experience in the 2009 book 'Deep Deception Ireland's Swimming Scandals', Karen has been speaking out across the world to create a greater level of awareness and to encourage safer spaces for children, young people, adults at risk and athletes in sport.

Karen said:

"I felt supported to share my experience during this podcast and I hope it will help other people with lived experience. I also really hope it will empower listeners to take action to make sure their sport is as safe as possible for children and young people."

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