Charmaine is not only our head esthetician, but a warrior advocate for abused girls and women, especially in the field of gymnastics. She was recently recognized by the Foundation for Global Sports Development with the 2018 Humanitarian Award. I wanted to share her story.
1. Tell me about your prior career as a gymnast.
I was a gymnast from 1976-1984. I started my serious classes in 1st grade. I was an elite gymnast and stopped because my coach was physically and sexually abusive.
2. There has been a lot of media attention on the abuse of girls and women lately, from actresses to gymnasts to the girl next door. What information do you wish everyone had, or understood, that’s not being covered?
I am so pleased to see more young women talking about this difficult subject. It’s been taboo for quite a while to talk about such issues and now we as a nation are addressing it at a whole new level. Many people miss the signs of abuse, many victims will protect their abusers while being abused due to the psychological effect the abuser has over their victims. We are not talking enough about that and the long term effects this kind of abuse can have on a person. We are talking about the hero aspect of the person who comes forth against their aggressor, but we need to deal with the psychological issues that surround victims and making sure they get the help they need while talking about their experiences.
3. You have been an advocate for abused women .Please tell me about that.
I have my own personal story around my gymnastics experiences. I shared that story with the press back in 2013. My story and my teammates stories received some media attention, because of that attention I started working with California politicians to eliminate the statute of limitations when it comes to rape in the state of California ( that’s where I grew up and did gymnastics )
Our work is not done yet, but the Ted Stevens act has been amended on a federal level just at the beginning of 2018. It’s a great start to making sports more safe for children at any level of sport and the statute of limitations was increased to 10 years to report. I also have a Facebook page called Safety in Gymnastics and I post updates and progress made with USA Gymnastics and the governing bodies that rule over it along with articles that have been appearing ever since this whole topic became public interest. I look forward to working with SafeSport to implementing changes put forth by Congress insuring our children will be safer. Some of my teammates and I were recognized by the sports community by giving us and 15 women who testified against Larry Nassir the Foundation for Global Sports Developments Humanitarian of the year award for 2018. It was quite an honor, usually bestowed upon one individual, but because of what is happening right now, both in and out of sports, they gave the award to 20 women.
4. How can we help? What can the average person do?
Everyone can help with this issue.We can help our children by watching their sports activities or make sure there is a viewing area that parents have the right to watch from. Make sure your children are at a place that coaches, educators, and volunteers have had SafeSport certification. Never leave your child alone one on one. Educate yourselves on what to look for and how to listen to a person who might disclose an abuse. Keep talking, keep the conversation going about this topic.
5. Any last thoughts?
It has been my greatest honor to work with others to help bring abuse in sports out into the public’s eyes. We continue to make strides in sports safety, and look forward to making all sports safer for children to participate in.
Watch this powerful 6 minute video of Charmaine being recognized by the Foundation for Global Sports Development with the 2018 Humanitarian Award.