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{Statement by Lauren Morgan on Sexual Misconduct}

LaurenMorganLaurenMorgan Posts: 1 Baller
edited July 3 in News & Other Stuff
{Statement by Lauren Morgan on Sexual Misconduct}

{My name is Lauren Morgan. I am a doctoral student at the University of Missouri St. Louis in Criminology, I received my Master's degree in Criminal Justice at Seattle University with a specialization in Victimology. I am currently ranked 5th on the elite ranking list in the women’s jump event. My achievements on the water include being multi-time National Champion, 4x Junior and University World Champion, being a member of multiple national teams, holder of 2 current national records, 4x collegiate all-star, a podium finisher at numerous professional events, and winning a professional event in 2012. In my time off the water I study, research, and educate on pressing criminal justice issues. I have been published in articles and textbooks, I have spoken at multiple conferences on the injustices that infiltrate our criminal system, and I am an advocate and activist for issues surrounding civil rights and criminal justice reform.

I am coming out to speak on behalf of myself and myself only. As I am aware that this statement will reach and affect others, it is not my intention to put words into anyone’s mouth, disrespect anyone, or misconstrue information or events that I was not a part of. I am a firm believer in not staying silent in times of despair or injustice. Being a member of the water ski community who has welcomed me with open arms, I hope that this statement will be welcomed with the respect it deserves and for those who disagree with my comments, I respect you too. My hope is that with this statement we as a community are courteous to those who have been victimized on both sides. Again, I am speaking on behalf of myself and hope to convey my thoughts and feelings of being a water skier in light of recent happenings with complete honesty.
On March 1, 2019, it became public knowledge that a member of our water ski community was listed on the “U.S. Center for SafeSport” database for allegations of misconduct with the terms “interim measure and restriction” listed by the defendant’s name. After years of speculation surrounding rumors of sexual misconduct, abuse, and personally seeing acts that gave me unpleasant sentiments, this announcement was anticipated and for the most part anticlimactic. Two months later on May 31, 2019, the water ski community was notified that the adjudicating body had decided that the compiled evidence in an extensive report were conclusive of a violation and a three-month suspension from the sport. My heart sank for all parties involved but with complete honesty, my embarrassment and shame were what drew me to put forth my thoughts and I will explain why in detail.

The current statement is not meant to point fingers, name names, insult anyone, or disrespect any men or women involved in any specific sexual misconduct or related encounters. The purpose of this statement is to bring awareness to an issue that like many other sports is salient and express my regret in the lack of awareness surrounding this issue for the future of our sport.

My family have been active members of the water ski community for over 50 years. As a third-generation competitive water skier, I have had the opportunity to ski with multiple professionals, coaches, and peers who have been instrumental in my success on and off of the water. With great opportunity to be successful in any sport, comes great sacrifice. Sometimes the line between what is coaching and what is misconduct becomes blurred. Between the ages of 12-18, we are most vulnerable. Throughout my career I had second-hand experiences where trepidation was invoked through unpleasant experiences with members of the opposite sex via coaching and mentorship. I am very blessed to say that those who I associated with never took advantage of my vulnerable position during these times but that’s not to say that I didn’t see this happen to others. My experiences are not uncommon. Contrary to popular images of stranger rape, most acts of sexual assault are committed by someone known to the victim (Davis, Lurigio, Herman, 2013).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sexual violence is defined as “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances...against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting.”** Across the world and outside the lines of sports, sexual violence is perpetrated against both women and men at an excessive rate but young women are the most frequent victims. Young females are the most vulnerable. In fact, child sexual abuse (defined as sexual activity with a child from birth to 14 years old) and female youth under the age of 17 are most often sexually assaulted by someone they already know. Individuals like babysitters, family friends, caregivers, and coaches commit the majority (59%) of childhood rape.

A major issue at play, however, is the reporting of sexual crimes. Sexual violence is oftentimes referred to as “hidden crime” or the “silent epidemic” due to failure to report crimes to the police or governing bodies at the time of the abuse. We see this over and over again with high profile cases and high-profile sports where lawsuits are filed years later but pinpointing the events and gathering evidence becomes challenging due to elapsed time. Children are oftentimes led to believe these behaviors are normal, blame themselves, feel they will not be believed, and ultimately are afraid of the consequences. The emotional and physical impact these situations can place on youth is extremely troublesome leading to increased delinquency, elevated substance use, depression, problems forming meaningful relationships, and risk of revictimization by their original perpetrator and others.

I’d like to highlight the revictimization aspect of sexual misconduct. Those who engage in sexual misconduct tend to do so repeatedly and those who are victimized tend to be victimized repeatedly. A study in 2006 (Davis et al.) highlighted the occurrence of revictimization where 82 participants who had been sexually abused in childhood were studied longitudinally for repeated victimization into adulthood. 30% of these women reported unwanted sexual contact in the six-month follow-up period. Four of these women were forcibly raped and others reported overwhelming situations, pressure, and arguments.
The victim-offender relationship in most sexual abuse cases is very unique (Davis, Lurigio, & Herman, 2013). Certain behaviors are very common in these relationships and it is my goal to highlight these behaviors for preventative purposes. Control is a central component of the victim-offender relationship; control is the means by which the perpetrator exerts his or her dominance over the victim, who at many times is in some vulnerable state. Abusers use manipulation tactics like utilizing superficial charm, psychological punishment, emotional blackmail, cutting off resources and family members, ingratiation, negative and positive reinforcement, intimidation, and much more to control their victims. Grooming tactics also occur where the abuser establishes an emotional attachment with the child to groom the victim into the sexual abuse cycle. Oftentimes traumatic bonding can occur where the victim builds an emotional attachment due to cyclical patterns of abuse. The existing literature on manipulation, grooming tactics, and sexual abuse points to the importance of community and accountability
in the prevention of sexual misconduct (Katz & Barnetz, 2016). I believe it is our duty as consumers of the sport to speak up when witnessing these behaviors.

What we have at our hands now in the sport of water skiing is a safety issue. We have factual knowledge surrounding a few events of sexual misconduct within our sport. While the evidence may not be available, what criminologists call “the dark figure of crime,” could be at play. The number of unidentified and unreported crimes that have occurred is enough to ignite conversation and provide deliberations over. At this time, I believe it is of utmost importance to be a unified body and start conversations. We need to take the research base surrounding sexual abuse seriously. We need to use sports like gymnastics and swimming as an example. Water skiing needs to be the example. This is a family sport and one that I hold dear to my heart. The failure to recognize, hold accountable, and the failure to place accountability anywhere whether it be on an individual or a water ski company who supports these acts is incredibly disheartening.

My disappointment comes not from the punishment, but the reaction from the sport I love and consider one of the best sports on the planet. My disappointment comes from the realization that our sport is so insignificant that it doesn’t have the courage to come out and make their own statement about the case. My disappointment comes from the sport and the industry as a whole that I believe has failed to do its job: be courageous in a time of fear. My ultimate disappointment comes from the fact that I was one of the many who when given the information was silent for too long. I hope when I say this I am not alone:

I am ashamed of being associated with an entity that values buoy count and distance over true character. I am sad that the sport I love will do just about anything to highlight the world records, medals, and victories but is silent when times aren’t in favor. I am sad that we are at a place where protecting our youth is less important than the next win or the next trophy.}
{In closing, I would like to encourage anyone who has been involved in an act they deem was violent, abusive, or simply inappropriate to seek counseling, reach out to me, or reach out to anyone. If writing is a way you express yourself that is encouraged too. If keeping your thoughts and feelings to yourself is your preferred way of coping, I understand you and I am here for you. If anyone has questions, concerns, or comments my email is [email protected] I would be happy to chat.}
I leave you with this quote:

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.” – Mahatma Gandhi
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Comments

  • GloersenGloersen Posts: 908 Crazy Baller
    edited July 3
    @LaurenMorgan - thank you for your earnest post. Rest assured that true integrity within this great sport will prevail; it's what keeps the majority of us engaged. Sponsors, clubs, organizations, and the like will have choices to make, given appropriate information from devoted, genuine participants such as yourself; the right ones will ensue.
    KRoundy
  • jcampjcamp Posts: 781 Mega Baller
    Thank you @LaurenMorgan
    The_Kristaskihart
  • wawaskrwawaskr Posts: 211 Baller
    @LaurenMorgan "The failure to recognize, hold accountable, and the failure to place accountability anywhere whether it be on an individual or a water ski company who supports these acts is incredibly disheartening."

    If this is the way you feel, why not specifically call out these individuals and companies that endorse them? We all know that ultimately, $$$ is the main motivator for these companies, so it may be the start to the change you are looking for.
    Matt
    MuskokaKy
  • KRoundyKRoundy Posts: 290 Crazy Baller
    @LaurenMorgan Thank you for this well-written and passionate response. This is a very important issue and we must protect innocent children from any type of abuse. As someone who is very, very distant from competitive waterskiing (outside of BoS I'd say that my connection would be zero), what would you suggest that I do, specifically?
  • JeffSurdejJeffSurdej Posts: 522 USAWS Official
    Here are some very helpful videos which would be a great start for anyone unaware of the issues out there.

    http://www.usawaterski.org/default.asp?Display=3171

    https://www.athletesafety.org/

    Also on the left side of the website under safesport resources you will find more.



    Login into your membership page and feel free to take the safesport courses for free as well.
    AWSA President
  • IlivetoskiIlivetoski Posts: 1,185 Crazy Baller
    @wawaskr we all know exactly what individual & what companies sponsor them.
    jayskislalom
  • wawaskrwawaskr Posts: 211 Baller
    @Ilivetoski that is EXACTLY my point, so why not openly talk about them?
    Matt
    slalom
  • skisprayskispray Posts: 160 Baller
    I know that Nate Smith is still sponsored by Nautique and D3. Does he have other sponsors? Are there any companies that have dropped support of him after he received a suspension for his conduct violation?
    MuskokaKyslalom
  • mfjaegersrmfjaegersr Posts: 143 Baller
    If the NASCAR clues on his ski are any indication of sponsors:

    Masterline
    Eagle
    Silver Spray Sports
    Zero Off
    ballsohard
  • RavenRaven Posts: 9 Baller
    whole topic makes me nauseous
    randy menyDirt2Valveslalom
  • GreggyCGreggyC Posts: 20
    so what happened?
  • APBAPB Posts: 258 Baller
    Thankyou for this. Hopefully our sport and brands involved will come correct.
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