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  • Ham_Hocker

    Well written

  • Rowena

    Well said.

  • roklando

    Thanks for sharing your experience. This should not be happening anymore, but the fact that it does shows how little we have moved forward in this sport in terms of equality, and respect for young (and not so young) athletes, especially female athletes.

  • Bones

    Seriously, how intelligent do you have to be to know that you don’t get romantically or physically involved with your work-mates or anyone you are having a professional relationship with? Is this new information?

    • Michele

      I take it you think it’s the fault of Bridie and Genevieve? They’ve just brought it on themselves??

      • Bones

        Of course they didn’t ‘bring it upon themselves’ and the older individual is responsible. What they did tho, is that they put themselves in a situation where they could be easily abused and they were. Big surprise there.

    • David9482

      Hey, obviously having relationships is not ideal, but at the same time, the abusive part of the relationship is the real “mistake” (I use the word mistake, but it’s not nearly strong enough).

      Bridie and Genevieve entering relationships with these men is not an invitation for abuse/violence/etc.

      • Bones

        Not an invitation, but a precursor. Isn’t it better to avoid a dangerous situation then to try to recover from the damage?

        • David9482

          Ok, so you’re saying because the girls started dating a coworker they willingly got into a dangerous situation? How many girls have you dated that knew they were going to be abused by you? Or, do the girls who date you assume you will be a safe person to date. Abusers don’t broadcast that they’re going to physically abuse someone at the start…

          • Bones

            Nice deflection with the implied insult but this isn’t about me (married 25 years, no affairs, two teenage daughters-BTW, health care professional and surprisingly no history of DV). Regarding abusers, you’re right, they don’t advertise their abuse but they do show pre-incident indicators and their abusive behavior escalates, and they do have a history of abuse. If the victim refuses to acknowledge this behavior and stays in the relationship, don’t they share some of the responsibility for allowing this to happen to them? It’s not blaming the victim, it’s acknowledging personal responsibility for one’s own situation. And to your question, yes a woman or man that has a relationship with someone in authority over them IS putting themselves in a potentionally dangerous situation, if not physical then emotional because they are not on equal terms with their partner. A coach is not a co-worker, the relationship is never on equal terms. This is about emotional maturity and personal responsibility.

            • David9482

              See below my comment – I wasn’t implying any insult. How can a young athlete with no history with abusive partners have any foresight to assume they’ll be abused… young men and women are assumed to be innocent for a reason.

              You’re an educated and experienced man, you can’t assume young women know what you know about the jerks out there.

              I’m getting too into this discussion. As you say this is about emotional maturity…. which young men/women clearly have very little of.

              Unfortunately, the implied power of the coach-athlete relationship appears to be reversed between men and women. For a male athlete who is a potential star, they hold way more power over their coaches than it appears women do. And this is the sad part. I would hope that young girl athletes feel empowered enough that they trust their own abilities and don’t give a man this type of power over them…. but this is much easier said than done!

    • Cathy Saleta

      the intelligence of the women in these stories has no relationship to the other person’s choice to be abusive, domestic abuse is a criminal offence. This is a myth of DV that the victim made it happen somehow. Place the agency where it ought to be – with the abuser and violator.

      • Bones

        I would say that getting into a relationship with someone that is in a position of power or authority over me should bring my intelligence into question. In other words, it is a REALLY stupid decision.

        • Cathy Saleta

          I think that the power that these abusers (of any sort actually – such as domestic/family violence) have is that they exist within social contexts and environments where there is an assumed set of social rules, expectations, standards, behaviours and beliefs. Therefore the “victim” enters the relationship in good faith and expects a particular trajectory of relationship outcomes and dynamics. With an athlete – that would be advice, support, care, wisdom, the benefit of the coach’s experience, knowledge and education, and along dimensions of the physical body (conditioning, recovery), tactics/strategy, technical knowledge, resources, time, motivation and encouragement, life lessons,personal goal fulfillment etc. So a relationship extending from only coach to romantic still would come with standard expectations and beliefs of a healthy, safe relationship. Once in a relationship – any type of power imbalance or differential authority becomes abusive and dangerous – that’s what domestic abuse means. So it still isn’t stupid for two people to develop a deeper relationship.

          • Bones

            You don’t really understand how a predator works do you? I’d agree with you until you got to the part where the relationship goes from coach to romantic, because that should never, never happen. Once that happens everything taught before is null and void. Any future expectations of a healthy safe relationship are null and void because the professional covenant has been broken. Think of it this way, the advice, support, care, wisdom benefit of coach’s experience are the BAIT the predator uses to catch his prey.

            You know that it is professional misconduct for a teacher/ health care provider/ counselor etc. to have sex with a student/ patient or client right, you do know that, don’t you? Because if you know that, then (1) the reason it IS professional misconduct is that it is seen as the professional taking advantage of their underling, so (2) HOW can it be okay for a coach to enter into a physical relationship with an athlete? This is not rocket science.

            • Cathy Saleta

              Well first hand experience is pretty illuminating…

            • Cathy Saleta

              As I am a mental health worker myself – sure – I’m very familiar with all types of boundaries not to cross!!! I am not so sure if the coach-athlete one is quite the same as the roles you have listed though (except where there is an age/generation difference). The thing is I don’t actually disagree with you about it being a negative move to turn a coach-athlete relationship into a romantic. I just don’t like making assumptions that in all cases there is always power imbalance and abuse. We’re talking about people’s morals and characters here – those aren’t predestined or totally reliant on sporting roles or genitals for that matter. I think it would be much better for girls and women, in general, to stop caring so much about having a man in their life, or looking sexy, or getting married, or having a family – and just discover and attach to their own dreams, goals, needs, values, and self-identity. That applies to athletic achievement and careers too. The general gender inequality in both society and road cycling undermines that though.

    • Timiji

      I’m going to give Bones the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the lack of intelligence he’s talking about is on the part of the coach, or sponsor, or other person (almost always male). In Canada, our national Coaching body has a code of conduct. No dual relationships – or in language that even the pigs can understand, don’t fu(k your athletes. In any sense of the word – financially, emotionally, or literally. There is an inherent power imbalance in the coach-athlete relationship, which eliminates the possibility of freely given consent. Don’t do it.
      Sounds so easy, huh? It’s not always, though. When I was young, naive, horny and stupid, I was all of those things… though not a coach. I’m older, hopefully wiser, married, with a young, impressionable, vulnerable family. If I hear about this in Canada, in this day and age… First, I’ll have a private conversation with the athlete, with a few supportive club members, or family, so they know what’s wrong and what’s right. Then local, provincial and national sport organizations will hear about it. So will provincial and national coaching organizations. So will the cops. And if that doesn’t work, so will the media.

    • muz

      Ah bones, it never takes long in the comments section of any story for one to pop up.

      Well done, today it was you.

      • Bones

        Well, if that ‘one’ that you are referring to is someone that teaches young women how to minimize their chances of becoming prey to a predator, then yes, I am that one. But if you think I’m blaming the victims, you’re wrong. Young women or men should be treated appropriately in an ideal world, unfortunately we don’t live in one and predators look for prey. Ask any fox hunter what happens when they miss their shot, that same fox seldom falls for that call again.

    • Rowena

      I came back this morning to see what else had been said. Are you also the sort of person who says, “well, why didn’t she leave him if he was hitting her?” Women have been so well trodden on over hundreds of years, the doormat for men throughout most societies. Take a seat whilst we have our moment to express our dissatisfaction of men and the way they have treated us. Stand with us as we look to fix these inequalities within our communities, to be against equality and the discussion of a better future is to walk backwards.

      • Bones

        No Rowena I’m not that type of person, I’m the type of father and brother and uncle that tells the girls/women in my family to be very cautious of the position they put themselves in when dealing with men they do not know. Predators need prey and they always go for the easy kill. Don’t make it so easy for them.

        • David9482

          Bones – your advice of “don’t make it so easy for them” is wise, you should’ve taken it as your initial comment came off the wrong way completely! I agree finally with your point that obviously it isn’t the women’s fault BUT be very very very careful who you start a relationship with.

          I’m also a young dad of a daughter and these stories make my skin crawl.

          • Bones

            It is a minefield out there and plenty of boys/ men are predators. They start asking for ‘nudes’ when the girls turn 13-14. If you raise them to be strong and confident, that they don’t need a man to be fulfilled then you’re halfway there. I’ve chosen to be honest with my daughters about sex and we talk openly about it. Being a healthcare professional helps because I can take the ‘mystery’ out of the topic and talk anatomically. But as she grows teach her about the qualities she should look for in a relationship. Basically she wants a person that will take a bullet for her, someone that loves her, respects her, honors her and is willing to die for her. My girls have heard that from me since they were 5 and they know I’d be willing to die trying to save their mother or them. Good news is, there are plenty of guys willing to do the same, they just have to look for them. And a big part of that journey is avoiding the predators. It’s not rocket science.

            • Cathy Saleta

              Actually I think it would be even better if girls and women were taught how to cope for themselves and not need saviours with pen!ses…I know what you are saying about others valuing a person so much that they put their own self on the line for the other, but that’s still a bit Disneyland princessy isn’t it!? I was never taught to fight for myself, it did not serve me well, and left me vulnerable to many dangers, with learning lessons the hard way.

              The issues in this article, in any article about DV or in our comments here – these are cultural, societal values and beliefs about the roles, purposes, behaviours, and expectations of male and female bodies and minds. This is why it is no surprise that we find a widespread social issue within a sports – like cycling in this case. Women are still not widely encouraged to be independent and autonomous. Add to that a female athlete’s drive to achieve an athletic goal – winning a WWT race – and the parameters are all blurred about how she behaves, how she can achieve her goals, what to do or not to do, what to “put up with” in order to realise those goals.

              I was in an abusive athlete-coach relationship, and I thought that the only option I had for achieving my goal, was to stay in that relationship at that club (only one in whole region). If I had had more self-worth and self-confidence I would not have traded my dignity, safety, self-esteem and long-term success in the sport for a short-term experience of my sport. Once again – those are not “intelligence” (I’ve been told I’m pretty smart!) factors but psychological and emotional factors.

              These comments just provide evidence that the sport requires far more assertive and proactive procedures for addressing this issue – that would take the form of current law enforcement processes where police officers can lay charges even if a “victim” doesn’t lay charges, and also like with child abuse – mandatory reporting. It needs to have NOWHERE to HIDE. Currently it has places to hide.

        • Rowena

          Your comment, “how intelligent do you have to be to know that you don’t get romantically or physically involved with your work-mates?” You actually need to be incredibly emotionally intelligent and not everyone is lucky enough to have a parent who is a health care professional. Often these athletes are away from home, very easily influenced by others and with the expectations from society that we ‘perform’ and exceed our parents expectations along with our own just isn’t that simple. I currently know of one private girls school that talks about relationships, what is healthy and what isn’t healthy.

          Generally we aren’t taught about predators, sure, we’re told about not going home with strangers but primarily we’re taught what is appropriate for a girls behaviour and what is appropriate for a boys behaviour.

          Anyway, I read this article today that explains a bit of what I think is the problem http://upliftconnect.com/i-refuse/

        • roklando

          How about telling the MEN in the family no to be abusive dicks so that women can stop feeling like “pray” all the time? By focusing your helpful efforts on women you are still putting the onus on them and exempting men from responsibility when abuse happens which, while good intentioned, is still a deeply patriarchical position. Men generally don’t go into relationships thinking “will I be abused?” and neither should women.

          • Bones

            DO you honestly believe anyone would go through the trouble of educating only one sex in their family? IF someone is going to spend over 10 years teaching their children how to behave in relationships, you think they are only going to talk to the girls? Of course, the boys are being taught how to treat girls/women—- but, news flash, the cousins don’t date. In our society it is the female that is more likely to be abused, so the young girl/woman needs to be taught the early signs of abusive behavior so they can either avoid that relationship or get out early. ideally abuse would not happen but we don’t live in an ideal world, do we?

            Here’s another news flash, when you hear a man talking about male predators, we are not exempting them from their responsibility, we are telling you how to avoid them because we know how they think. So if you want to walk into the lions den, be my guest, just don’t expect me to feel sorry for you. Me, I’m going to walk around it.

  • erin_2503

    “I tell you what I expected: I thought I would actually get the support they promised, the salary we signed the contract on…etc” It’s utterly ridiculous that these fundamental promises (actually, contractual obligations) don’t get delivered. I know it’s not isolated to women’s cycling, it happens wherever there is the opportunity for power to be abused and someone that is driven to succeed in an activity (career!) where there’s blurring of lines of how much support and remuneration you should expect vs feeling ‘grateful for the opportunity you’ve been given’. It’s easy for a young cyclist to undervalue themselves when they won’t have had much experience in business negotiations before signing up. It’s the responsibility of organisations to mandate the treatment of cyclists, as Bridie suggests. I also think more experienced cyclists have a mentoring responsibility to newbies.
    Good article.

    • Cathy Saleta

      From my research, it also seems that women undervaluing themselves is a big problem – we seem to systematically undervalue and undermine our own worth. This means we accept WAY less than what we, firstly, deserve as being members of the human race, and secondly, deserve for the amount of effort, work, dedication etc that we put into our goals. I think this also holds us back as athletes. We deserve so much more!

  • David9482

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’m very glad I read this.

    Now for full disclosure, let’s go backwards to find out who were the team managers, staff, etc. who abused Bridie and her teammates. Then, determine if they’re still in the sport and ask the UCI to fine them, disqualify them, etc. I’m sure the sponsors would not want it public knowledge that they’re supporting abusive (or potentially criminal if wages are being withheld and abuse turns violent) behaviour.

    • Cathy Saleta

      it is interesting (and very sad) that these things are flying under the radar hey?

  • Cathy Saleta

    thanks for sharing, all these women are brave to speak out!

  • Bobby

    Thank you for sharing. I may live in a bubble but I had no idea it could be that bad.
    I have a 3 year old girl who I promised last night I would stick by her no matter what. With out judgment I will always be there for her.
    Thanks again Bridie, I learnt something.

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