Staying ahead of the curve
With the recent allegations of sexual misconduct flooding the media, one might feel frightened to allow their child any freedom. We are witnessing an out pour of concern from parents and mature athletes, asking how to handle such a delicate but devastating topic. So we decided to sit down with Kiya Tomlin, one powerful high profile mom of a gymnast and Wife of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, to get her view on the topic.
Gracefully, Kiya explains that she sees the expression, courage, and vulnerability of female victims of sexual misconduct, thought provoking. And instead of taking a step back to distance her child from danger, she views it as a launch-pad to set new standards, and teach her daughter the risks of high level living, and how to handle them. Her thoughts below inspire us, as they shall you, and we encourage you as a parent and/or athlete to step forward, use your gifts to make the world of sport and dream hunting, a challenging but ever safe journey.
As the mother of a gymnast, this uncovering does not frighten me away from the sport, but instead makes talking to my 11-year old about sexual predators and abuse easier for me and more relatable for her. Sexual abuse of women and children is nothing new or foreign. We have been strong to endure sexual harassment, abuse and assault since the beginning of time. What is new is our ability to speak out. We are showing that we are even stronger, less afraid and we have power.
As a mother of both sons and a daughter, this is an urgent opportunity to talk about things that most people don’t talk about. Thanks to the strength, courage and unselfish acts of these young women, we can move beyond the concept of “Stranger Danger” to alert them to abuses that can happen in every area of life, not just gymnastics.
It’s an opportunity to teach about boundaries and the imbalance of power, ownership of our bodies, respect for others, trust in our own feelings, and the courage to speak when uncomfortable or afraid. It is an opportunity to show them that the shame associated with being the victim needs to be correctly placed on the abuser. And it is a wake-up call to us as parents that underestimate the frequency and proximity of these abuses.
I am grateful for the sacrifices these young women have made for young girls everywhere and will take advantage of the opportunities this heinous scandal has provided us.
The Olympic gymnasts that have broken the silence were my daughter’s heroes. Now they are mine.