Hansel and Gretel: Dreams, Enchantment and Silence in the Land of Sport – Towards a Theoretical Account of the Sexually Abused Child Athlete

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Within sport studies, a handful of academics have begun to document and analyse the experiences of sexually victimised child athletes and the past fifteen years have seen the birth of theory within this field. Beyond sport studies, theorising CSA is a highly contested area where disciplinary boundaries are often deeply marked. Crucially, feminist sport scholars have depicted a hyper-masculinist context and an environment conducive to sexual harassment and violence. AIM(s)/OBJECTIVE(s): Silence around CSA, particularly victim silence, facilitates the persistent and widespread nature of this crime. Survivor testimony suggests that victims frequently interpret their role in the abusive relationship as one of complicity. The notion of 'grooming' has been widely used to both characterise perpetrator strategies but also to explain victim complicity and silence. This paper will challenge the utility of this concept and argue for the need to account more thoroughly for victims' feelings of complicity in a fashion that does not obscure children's capacity for action nor shift blame away from the perpetrator. DISCUSSION: In considering the relationship between sport and CSA, I offer a theoretical critique of the sports field and the adult-child relation constructed within it. For social theorist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002), context was crucial to comprehending social action and individual agency was intimately bound up with the fields of practice in which individuals are embedded. Through Bourdieu's conceptual framework I introduce the notion of an athleticist habitus through which the perspective of the sexually abused child athlete may be more clearly articulated and better understood. I offer an application of these ideas by drawing on recent research with 'survivors' of CSA in sport.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventInternational Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport (ICSEMIS) - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Jul 201224 Jul 2012

Conference

ConferenceInternational Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport (ICSEMIS)
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityGlasgow
Period19/07/1224/07/12

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    Hartill, M. (2012). Hansel and Gretel: Dreams, Enchantment and Silence in the Land of Sport – Towards a Theoretical Account of the Sexually Abused Child Athlete. Paper presented at International Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport (ICSEMIS), Glasgow, United Kingdom. http://www.icsemis2012.com/